Inspirational Quotes

"I have learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

--Maya Angelou

"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and be vibrantly alive in repose."

--Gandhi

Sleep Problems: Insomnia

Over 58% of adults in the U.S. experience symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

insomnia

Insomnia is perhaps the most common sleep disorder. It impairs your sleep, keeps you from falling asleep, or both. Insomnia can impair your capacity to work during the day. It can also affect your mood, health and disrupt your overall quality of life.

Most people experience sleep problems at some point during their life, but some individuals develop a more serious form of insomnia that can last for months. Most of the time, a few simple changes in your life can help overcome this problem.

    Helpful tips

    Donít worry about not sleeping. Obsessing about sleeping will only make it worse. It might help to remind yourself that while sleepless nights are a problem, they are not the end of the world.

    Hide the alarm clocks. The less you know about the time at night, the better you will be. Set your alarm clock so that you get up on time, but then hide all your clocks in your bedroom. Donít forget to also hide your cell phone and your wristwatch.

    Keep your bedroom only for intimacy and sleep. Try not to eat or watch TV on your bed.

    Avoid naps. Naps can make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you have to take a nap, try to limit it to 30 minutes but not more.

    Avoid large meals and refreshments in the evenings. Small portions are fine, but overindulging later in the day can impair sleep at night. Also, reduce the amount of water before bedtime so you won't have to go to the bathroom as often.

    Find tips on how to relieve stress. A warm shower before bedtime can help you get uninterrupted sleep. It is also a good idea to create a soothing bedtime routine, for example soft-calming music, massage, and a relaxing conversation with your partner.

    Will some foods help with sleep?

    Foods that are known to improve sleep are called tryptophan-rich foods. Tryptophan is the precursor of the sleep-inducing neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, which help reduce nerve activity and tell your body when its time to go to sleep.

    Foods high in tryptophan:

    • Dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese, milk

    • Soy products: soy milk, tofu, soybean nuts

    • Seafood

    • Poultry

    • Warm milk

    Also, carbohydrates are even better since they trigger insulin which in turn speeds up the release of both tryptophan and serotonin.

    Some of these foods include cherries, bananas, and bread or whole grains

    Medications

    Every so often you might need something stronger to help you with your sleep.

    The most common prescribed sleep medications are Zolpidem (Ambien), Ramelteon (Rozerem), and Eszopiclone (Lunesta). These medications have side effects that can be serious and may cause drowsiness, impaired judgement, irritability, agitation and coordination problems.

    In addition, most doctors suggest that you do not take these prescription drugs longer than two weeks. Although some of the newer tablets can be taken for longer periods, many of these sleep medications create dependence so use caution. Always discuss your treatment options with your doctor.

    Alternative treatment

    Many people prefer taking herbal supplements for insomnia.

    Several therapies that may be helpful include:

    Melatonin

    Melatonin is a natural hormone released from the pineal gland in the brain and helps to control the body's circadian rhythm and wave cycles.

    Did you know?

    The pineal gland is a pea-sized gland situated right above the center of the brain.

    Throughout the day the pineal is dormant. As soon as the sun falls, around 9pm, the pineal becomes active and starts to release melatonin into the bloodstream.

    --The National Sleep Foundation

    People who work night shifts or travel abroad often have interrupted circadian rhythms, and research has also shown that melatonin supplements can help their bodies adjust to unusual schedules. The Elderly seems to benefit the most from melatonin supplements.

    Recent studies show inconclusive evidence that melatonin supplements are effective in treating insomnia. While it is considered safe to use melatonin for a few weeks, long-term safety of melatonin is unknown.

    Valerian

    This is an over-the-counter herb supplement sold as a sleep aid because of its mild sedating effect. Results vary among individuals, but so far it has shown to be moderately effective in reducing anxiety in some people.

    However, Valerian has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and long-term effects of this drug are not well known. Some reports have associated Valerian with liver failure in some individuals, although its unclear if the drug was the cause.

    Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that treats patients by insertion of needles into the skin to stimulate specific points in the body. Its supporters variously report that it alleviates discomfort, treats diseases and promotes general health.

    There's increasing evidence that this practice could be ideal for individuals with severe insomnia.

    *Talk with your doctor before you buy any herbal drugs or natural supplements.*

      Related topics

      Please visit the following links:


      Online Citations

      Top Four Foods that Can Help You Sleep. Provides information on foods that help you sleep. Flavored Delights.

      Foods for Sleep. Provides a guide on nutritious foods that improve sleep at night. AskDrSears.

      Melatonin. Information on the role of Melatonin. University of Maryland Medical Center.

      Melatonin. Brief information on melatonin and Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.

      2002 Sleep in America Poll. Study on insomnia in American citizens. National Sleep Foundation.

      Insomnia. Symptoms, treatment and alternative therapy for the treatment of insomnia. The Mayo Clinic.

        Citations

        Singh, S; Ernst E (2008). Trick or treatment: The undeniable facts about alternative medicine. W. W. Norton & Company.


          Article created: April 24, 2011

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