Insomnia: Why You Can’t Get a Good Night’s Rest
We spend on average around 8 hours/day sleeping: our bodies need this vital downtime and more importantly, so does our brain.
Most of us will have had issues with sleeping properly at some point in our lives, but will get over these quite quickly without causing any serious or long-term effects. However, according to the National Health Service, 1 in 3 people will suffer from insomnia, a medical condition which has serious consequences not only on our health and daily life, but also those around us as well.
There are several factors that have been linked to insomnia which may be relevant to you:
- Stress caused from work pressures or personal pressures/relationships.
- Use of certain medications such as steroids and anti-depressants
- Lifestyle factors such as shift work patterns that play havoc with a sleeping routine.
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol intake before bedtime.
- Factors such noise and light pollution from having to live in a busy city centre.
- Certain conditions or stages of life such Premenstrual Syndrome or during menopause, when women often wake up with night sweats.
- Certain medical conditions such as heart or lung problems or those that cause pain which prevents restful sleep.
- Recovering from an injury or operation.
- Traumatic events which cause re-occurring nightmares which wake you up and then stop you from getting back to sleep.
Here are some steps you can take to try and resolve the issue which include:
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime.
- Drinking a warm milky drink before sleeping (unless of course this means you wake in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom!)
- Setting a routine of going to bed at the same time
- Winding down before bed by having a relaxing bath, reading or listening to music
- Aromatherapy including essential oils such as lavender
- Removing all electronic devices from your bedroom, including your mobile phone
- Take a magnesium supplement just before bedtime (365mg is suggested)
- Notwithstanding the suggestion to remove all electronic devices from your bedroom, some people find that they can drift off to sleep much easier if they are listening to music or recordings of waves or tropical forest fauna.
- Airing your bedroom by opening a window for at least half an hour every day; some people prefer to sleep with a window ajar, even in winter time and say this helps them sleep better.
- Evaluating your sleeping covers to make sure that they are suitable; where possible, choose natural filling for duvets and check that your pillow is giving you the right support.
Quite often, we find that many sleeping issues stem from stress. There’s nothing worse than worrying about whether your job is going to disappear in the next round of downsizing or how your wage this month is going to cover utilities and car repairs; and you know you shouldn’t have splashed out on that outfit that goes oh so perfectly with those equally gorgeous shoes you bought last month. And that doesn’t even begin to cover issues such as ageing parents, troublesome teenagers, gridlocked roads every day and that oh so annoying person in Human Resources…!
There are a number of branded sleeping remedies that you can find in your local pharmacy without the need for a medical prescription. You’d be amazed how just the addition of magnesium can help people by simply stopping that “racing brain” that can happen when you’re lying there making lists of things you must do the next day. It’s well worth a try and given the right intake, you should start noticing a difference within around 2 weeks
If the problem persists, do go to your doctor to discuss further; they can check for any underlying medical conditions as well as prescribe medication that may help. Please bear in mind, however, that sleeping meds can aggravate the situation with side effects. Your body will also become accustomed to the drugs which will mean they are no longer effective for you, so your doctor will only prescribe something for a short period of time.
Please don’t just lie there tossing and turning every night; it doesn’t do you or your other half (if you have one) any good!