Do you lie awake staring at the ceiling? Do you sleep but drag around the next day because your sleep was not refreshing? Are you waking up before the birds do? Do you wake frequently through the night? If you answered “yes” to two or more questions, you may have a sleep disorder.
Most people need 7 to 8 hours of good, restful sleep. Some need more and some less. There are people who function just fine on 4 hours a night and some that are cranky and sleepy after 8 hours. The question is not how many hours you have slept, but how you feel and function the next day.
There are two types of insomnia: the first is primary insomnia, which are sleep problems not associated with any other health concerns. Secondary insomnia is associated with medical problems such as depression, some medications, and pain.
There are two relatively common conditions that can cause sleep problems. The first is called restless legs. A person suffering from this has legs that won’t let her sit or lie down for very long. There is a sensation that she must move her legs by getting up and walking. Some of the following may help:
Walking, jogging, stretching, taking hot or cold baths, and messaging legs.
If these don’t work, a doctor should be consulted.
The second condition is sleep apnea. This is a potentially fatal condition where the person stops breathing repeatedly, sometimes hundreds of times a night and often for a minute or more. A person suffering form sleep apnea will feel tired and sleepy all the time and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, even while driving. A partner may complain of very noisy snoring and might even notice that her bed mate has stopped breathing. If you suspect sleep apnea, you should be evaluated at a sleep clinic because this condition can result in death and it is relatively easy to treat.
For those who have primary insomnia, the following may help:
? Go to sleep the same time each night
? Try not to take naps
? Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day
? Get regular exercise
? Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day
? Made sure your sleeping place is comfortable and dark and quiet and that it is not too warm or too cold
? If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask
? If noise is a problem try white noise like a fan or a white noise machine
? Follow a routine to help you relax and wind down
? Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleep or sex
? If you can’t sleep, get up and do something that is not over stimulating like reading the dictionary or watching an infomercial
? If you lie awake worrying about things, make a list before going to bed. This may help you to “let go.”
? Wiggle your toes up and down 12 times
? Place your hand on your navel and begin to make small circles clockwise, gradually increase the size of the circles and then gradually go back to naval and repeat counter clockwise
? Imagine it is time to get up
? Imagine something peaceful
? Imagine something boring
If none of these works, it may be time to see a doctor.