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Insomnia – How To Get More Sleep

Written by S.O.

Posted on February 17, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Sleeping couple

If you, or someone close to you has chronic sleeping problems, you certainly know the toll an absence of slumber can have on staying healthy, happy, and sometimes merely functioning. We need sleep to fuel our bodies. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institution (NHLBI) says, “During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.” Let’s take a look at what constitutes insomnia, as well as some techniques to help catch some zzz’s!

Mind Over Mattress

Chronic insomnia, is classified as a sleep problem under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (DSM-V) as a mental health condition. It often springs from an over-active mind, or a surplus of anxiety. It can also be caused by certain medications or physical distress, such as illness or chronic pain. Many people think that 6 hours of sleep every night is enough, but according to The National Sleep Foundation most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function efficiently.

Being Sleepy Kills

Now, this is a bench mark. Some people need more, perhaps 10 hours to be their best selves, and some are perfectly used to just 5 or 6. However, getting a minimal amount of sleep will slowly chip away at your wellbeing over time. Not only will you be sluggish and zombie-esque, but Sleep.org states that chronic sleep deprivation is responsible for 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths a year! These stats should wake us all up to just how important getting adequate sleep can be.

Tired and Tubby

Even though insomnia has mental health roots, it also affects, or can be affected by the physical. The NHLBI states that chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to such significant health issues as heart problems, kidney disease, blood pressure, stroke, and obesity. “Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down.” The NHLIB also asserts that sleep deprivation affects how your body metabolizes insulin, which can eventually contribute to diabetes as well.

A Coy Midnight Caller

When Sir Slumber is being aloof, what can you do to beckon him back for a visit? Aside from sleeping pills, there have been all kinds of things discovered and developed over the years to help insomnia. Some of which include relaxation and meditative techniques, natural oils, sleepy-time teas, specialized sound effects or visuals, and melatonin, among many others. Experts also say that keeping your room cool during the night, while keeping your socks on during the night can help induce a long, comfy sleep.

Pop a Melatonin

My partner, Mark has been an insomniac since he was very young. He has tried every kind of sleeping pill on the market to no avail, but has recently had significant success with a nightly dose of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone excreted by the body’s pineal gland which facilitates sleep, and the pill Melatonin is a synthetic replication of said hormone. Its effectiveness is debated in the medical community, but it does seem to provide many with much needed night-time peace.

A Sleepy Routine

Mark also finds keeping on a bedtime routine beneficial. The experts at Helpguide, a non-profit mental health wellness organization, advise “Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.” Mark also finds that calming mind activities help invite sleep, such as coming up with a band name for each letter or the alphabet, or saying the alphabet backwards and frontwards in his mind until he falls asleep midway through.

Sunny and Sleepy

According to Helpguide, some other techniques that have been proven to help coax sleep include: avoiding caffeine in the evening or heavy eating before bed, getting regular exercise, and unplugging a couple hours before bedtime. Possibly chief among these tactics is exposing yourself to enough sunlight daily to help the body’s sleep-wake cycle. According to Dr. Mercola, Osteopathic Physician and best-selling wellness author, “One of the key foundational components of sleeping well is maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to sunlight during the day and darkness at night.”  Having a warm bath infused with lavender right before bed is another must-try technique for insomniacs.

We hope the information above helps you rest better! Thanks for stopping by DocChat – we always love to have you.

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