A Good Night's Sleep For Some Is Just A Dream

By on August 19, 2011

Good Night's SleepOne of the hardest things to deal with as we age and as life gets busier/ more complicated is our sleep habits. We are unprepared when things go haywire, and we find ourselves without enough sheep to count at night, and sheer exhausted at the start of the next day.

We have all heard the side effects of sleep deprivation. Human rights groups even call it inhumane. Sleep deprivation can cause a general lack of well-being; lack of concentration, increased forgetfulness, mood changes, anxiety and in extreme cases, the long-term consequences may include such things as mental illness and psychosis.

Sleep research has come a long way over the last century, and we now have a much better understanding of the how the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus regulates our sleep patterns. From this knowledge of our waking and sleep cycle (also known as our 24-hour circadian rhythm), many helpful sleep tips have emerged.

Insomnia is simply defined as the inability to sleep with numerous possible reasons for the condition. There are some common forms of insomnia such as transient insomnia caused things such as jet lag or illness. Short-term or chronic insomnia may be caused by periods of prolonged stress at work, family issues, etc.

So how can we adjust and maintain an adequate sleep pattern throughout the life cycle with changing work schedules, children, stress and even seasonal changes?

First, it is important to clarify that if you can’t sleep night after night for an extended period of time, these tips and self-help solutions, we are about to cover are not for you, see your family doctor. You may have a sleep disorder which requires intensive investigation probably including an overnight sleep-over at a sleep clinic for monitoring.

Having said that, insomnia related to life events, work schedules and natural changes can often be helped by following some helpful tips.

Age is a major factor in the number of hours a person requires per night. The number of required hours decreases with age. A young adult on average requires 7-8 hours of sleep, but later in life many people may average six hours and function well. So if you are in your mid-to-later stages in life, don’t worry if you no longer require eight plus hours per night, it is normal.

Co-existing health issues such as arthritis, respiratory problems and other diseases may of course interfere with one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. This is to be expected, and it is best to check with your physician if you fall into this category.

So if you are like so many others, with occasional sleepless nights, you may be looking for tips, well here is a collection of several that just may do the trick:

  • Before going to bed, relax your mind. Try meditating, using simple breathing techniques or aromatherapy. Soft music and/or a warm bath may relax you and prepare you to sleep. Reading a calming book(not an action adventure novel) may also help.
  • Try to stick to a set sleep schedule that allows your brain to establish a normal sleep-wake cycle. However, most experts agree if you don’t fall asleep after 15-30 minutes get up and do something relaxing, lying in bed may only make it worse and harder to fall asleep.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary reserved for sleep, not a place to work, not a place for watching television. It should be a place for intimacy and rest. Psychologically, this is important.
  • With regard to one’s diet: avoid stimulating substances such as coffee, chocolate, cold drinks, etc. The caffeine stays in your system longer than you may think. It is best to avoid them, especially several hours prior to bedtime.
  • Heavy meals may also keep you up at night, so eat lightly for your evening meal.
  • Rest with the least amount of light possible in your bedroom. A dimly lit room my put you in the mood to sleep and your brain’s wake-sleep cycle may be affected the room is too bright. Keep your bedroom cool and make sure your mattress and pillow fit your needs. Pillows/mattresses are definitely not a “one size fits all.” This is especially important if you suffer from neck or back pain.
  • Exercising regularly in the morning will help you feel awake, and it also aids with sleep at night. However, it is not recommended to avoid exercising before going to bed because exercise tends to wake you up and give you a burst of energy.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping at night, avoid napping during the day, wait for your regular bed-time.
  • A good night’s sleep is important for a healthy and happy life. If the problem is your work schedule or something you can change in your personal schedule or life, do so.
  • But if the problem does not go away on its own or by using tips such as these, consult your family doctor for advice.

Nothing is more refreshing than a good night’s sleep. Repeated nights without sleep can be harmful to your health and well-being.

So, until next week: “Here’s to your health and a good night’s sleep.”

Source: The Peninsula

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