Chronic insomnia is defined when you have problems falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or experience nonrestorative sleep that occurs on a regular or frequent basis, often for no apparent reason.

How much sleep is enough varies from person to person. Although 7 1/2 hours of sleep is about average, some people do well on four to five hours of sleep. Other people need nine to 10 hours of sleep each night.

Insomnia can affect not only your energy level and mood, but also your health as well because sleep helps bolster your immune system. Fatigue, at any age, leads to diminished mental alertness and concentration. Lack of sleep caused by insomnia is linked to accidents both on the road and on the job.

Insomnia is a common problem that may be temporary or chronic. As many as one in 10 Americans have chronic insomnia, and at least one in four has difficulty sleeping sometimes. But that doesn’t mean you have to just put up with sleepless nights. Some simple changes in your daily routine and habits may result in better sleep.

Causes

Common insomnia causes include:

  • Stress. Concerns about work, school, health or family can keep your mind too active, making you unable to relax. Excessive boredom, such as after retirement or during a long illness, may occur and also can create stress and keep you awake.
  • Anxiety. Everyday anxieties as well as severe anxiety disorders may keep your mind too alert to fall asleep.
  • Depression. You may either sleep too much or have trouble sleeping if you’re depressed. This may be due to chemical imbalances in your brain or because worries that accompany depression may keep you from relaxing enough to fall asleep.
  • Stimulants. Prescription drugs, including some antidepressants, high blood pressure and corticosteroid medications, can interfere with sleep. Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including some pain medication combinations, decongestants and weight-loss products, contain caffeine and other stimulants. Antihistamines may initially make you groggy, but they can worsen urinary problems, causing you to get up more during the night.
  • Change in your environment or work schedule. Travel or working a late or early shift can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, making you unable to get to sleep when you want to. The word “circadian” comes from two Latin words: “circa” for “about” and “dia” for “day.” Your circadian rhythms act as internal clocks, guiding such things as your wake-sleep cycle, metabolism and body temperature.
  • Long-term use of sleep medications. If you need sleep medications for longer than several weeks, talk with your doctor, preferably one who specializes in sleep medicine.
  • Medical conditions that cause pain. These include arthritis, fibromyalgia and neuropathies, among other conditions. Making sure that your medical conditions are well treated may help with your insomnia.
  • Behavioral insomnia. This may occur when you worry excessively about not being able to sleep well and try too hard to fall asleep. Most people with this condition sleep better when they’re away from their usual sleep environment or when they don’t try to sleep, such as when they’re watching TV or reading.
  • Eating too much too late in the evening. Having a light snack before bedtime is OK, but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down, making it difficult to get to sleep. Many people also experience heartburn, a backflow of acid and food from the stomach to the esophagus after eating. This uncomfortable feeling may keep you awake.

Symptoms

Doctors associate a variety of signs and symptoms with insomnia. Often, the symptoms intertwine with those of other medical or mental conditions.

  • People with insomnia may complain of difficulty falling asleep. The problem may begin with stress. Then, as you begin to associate the bed with your inability to sleep, the problem may become chronic.
  • Depression and mental illnesses are often associated with insomnia.
  • Most often daytime symptoms will bring people to seek medical attention. Daytime problems caused by insomnia include the following:
    • Poor concentration and focus
    • Difficulty with memory
    • Impaired motor coordination
    • Irritability and impaired social interaction
    • Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers
  • People may worsen these daytime symptoms by their own attempts to treat the symptoms.

Medical Treatment:

Insomnia is a symptom not a diagnosis. As such, your treatment will be personal and will be focused on your underlying condition. Your treatment may include one or more of the following therapies:

  • Improving sleep habits
  • Correcting sleep misconceptions
  • Controlling your sleep environment
  • Behavior management
  • Light therapy
  • Medications

Here some advices:

  • See a Doctor

Insomnia can be a symptom of physical disorders, although for most of us it’s the result of tension, stress and anxiety-and of course the more anxious we get about our insomnia, the worse it gets. If your doctor pronounces you a “healthy” insomniac, he might suggest some of the techniques provided here. Or she might prescribe drugs to help you get to sleep.

  • Take a Warm Bath

It’s a great way to relax your body. Don’t overdo it, however. You merely want to relax your body, not exhaust it. Too long in hot water and your body is drained of vitality.

Use bath salts, or throw in Epsom salts and baking soda-one cup of each. These will relax you and also help remove toxins from your body.

  • Get a Massage

Have your spouse (or whoever) give you a massage just before going to sleep. If you can convince them to give you a full body massage, great. If not, even a short backrub and/or a face and scalp massage can be a big help. Have them make the massage strokes slow, gentle, yet firm, to work the tension out of your muscles and soothe you to sleep.

  • Listen to Music

Play some soft, soothing music that will lull you to sleep. There are even cassettes and records designed for that very purpose. Some are specially composed music, others simply have sounds of waves rhythmically breaking, or the steady pattern of a heartbeat.

Of course if you don’t have a record, cassette or CD player that will automatically turn off, we don’t suggest this. If you have to get up and turn it off at the end, you’ve obviously lost its effect.

  • Drink Warm Milk

A glass of warm milk 15 minutes before going to bed will soothe your nervous system. Milk contains calcium, which works directly on jagged nerves to make them (and you) relax.

  • Drink Herb Tea

If you don’t like milk-or are avoiding dairy products-try a cup of hot camomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea. All contain natural ingredients which will help you sleep. Most health food stores will also have special blends of herb tea designed to soothe you and help you get to sleep.

  • Eat a Bedtime Snack
  • Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco
  • Sleep in a Well-Ventilated Room
  • Sleep on a Good Firm Bed
  • Sleep on Your Back
  • Get Some Physical Exercise During the Day
  • Keep Regular Bedtime Hours
  • If You Can’t Sleep, Get Up
  • Don’t Sleep In
  • Get Up Earlier in the Morning
  • Keep Your Bed a Place for Sleep
  • Avoid Naps
  • Avoid Illuminated Bedroom Clocks

Sources: Well, Emedicine Health

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