Statistics are hard to come by, but surveys have shown that 30 percent of Americans are insomniacs. Even though there is an awful lack of information about how to cure insomnia and other sleep disorders, enough is known to offer help.
First, people must recognize that loss of a few hours sleep here and there is not insomnia. Nor are people who can get by on as little as four or five hours a night insomniacs. Insomnia is not really how much sleep you get but how it affects you. It’s when the person feels upset and tired the next day, that’s what makes the condition called insomnia.
Second, everyone has his own “individual time clock” that establishes a sleep pattern. This clock can be disrupted if a person goes on shift work or takes a jet flight. In addition, people should be wary of using drugs to alleviate insomnia.
To cure insomnia, some doctors prescribe sleeping pills for insomniacs without understanding the nature of sleep. They feel that the only way to cure insomnia is to increase the time of sleep. But that’s not what it’s all about.
Insomniacs may get the full amount of sleep but they have a hard time getting the right kind of sleep. So, what can insomniacs do to cure insomnia?
People should have a definite routine about preparing themselves for bed. The bedroom should be a quiet place of sleep, and the bed should only be used for two things: sleeping and sex. It should not be used for studying or watching TV or bookwork or anything like that. Go to bed at a definite time every night. And you must get up at the same time each day, and there should be no naps.
Also try to rid your mind of worries from during the day. Any time you catch yourself thinking of an unfinished problem, think of something else. Get away from stressful and upsetting subjects.
Heavy meals should be eaten not less than four hours before going to bed. And you should not have any tea, coffee or chocolate at least six hours before.
There are three common types of insomnia, prompted by psychological rather than physical causes. One is the person who is tired and can’t wait to hit the bed but as soon as he hits it, he’s up. For this, try to relax the muscles of the forehead, eyes and nose and get a certain word to think about while you are doing that.
The second type is a person who arises in the middle of the night feeling wide awake, but worries that if he doesn’t get a few more hours he won’t be able to make it through the day. Sleep experts suggest staying up. If a person feels refreshed, he probably has had enough sleep.
The third type is the sleeper who awakens at 3 a.m., feels dead tired and can’t drop off again. The advised strategy is trying not to disturb yourself. Try not to get the senses fully awake. Try to get a little something to eat, not too much though.
There are two kinds of sleepers – the short sleeper and long sleeper. Short sleepers sleep under seven hours and tend to be people who don’t worry about things, whereas the long sleepers sleep eight or more hours and tend to be the doers, the worriers, the creative people.
People search for a magic pill that will once and for all cure insomnia without making them addictive or dependent on a particular drug. That pill does not exist.
A better approach is to learn to eliminate the stressful emotional problems that are often responsible for insomnia. Many basic medical conditions are known to interfere with sleep. Ulcers of the stomach, thyroid disturbances and a wide variety of other illnesses can be disruptive to sleep. Certain drugs, coffee and tea (they contain caffeine) and alcohol are additional factors to consider.
Changing your habits also might help. Wind down at the end of the day. Don’t exercise just before you sleep. Don’t do mentally stimulating things before sleep. Do sleep in a dark quiet room and do develop regular sleep habits.
That which is not usually recognized is that sleep patterns vary with age. Sleep requirements may alter. Dislocation from jobs by premature retirement, loneliness, bordeom and depression and nagging anxiety should be explored in trying to find an answer. A good heart-to-heart talk with your doctor, exploring all these possibilities is a far better approach to cure insomnia than the chronic dependence on drugs.