Lack of sleep is becoming a common ailment in America today. With busy schedules, multitasking, jobs, kids, functions, many of us simply have too many demands on our time. In an effort to get everything done, we often skip a bit of much needed rest. More than 100 million Americans are experiencing trouble sleeping or simply aren't sleeping enough. You can go to bed at a reasonable time, but find you are tossing and turning all night, or waking up too often or too early resulting in a lack of proper rest for the body.
When you are lacking in sleep you can experience many symptoms. You may feel tired and irritable, doze off at inappropriate times, unable to concentrate, suffering from decreased mental function, reduced reaction time and other bodily changes that, in turn, contribute to accidents and injuries.
The proper amount of sleep one needs vary from person to person. Some people only need three hours of sleep a night while others need ten. The average in Americans is seven and a half-hours a night. Like pain, insomnia is a symptom. It is not a disease. Therefore, let's focus on possible causes.
More than half of all cases of insomnia is caused from psychological stress. Anxiety and depression top the list.
Ailments that cause pain, such as arthritis, backaches, indigestion, breathing difficulties such as allergies and asthma and a non-stop cough can keep you awake at night.
Prescription or nonprescription drugs containing caffeine, ephedrine, aminophylline, norepinephrine or amphetamine frequently disturb sleep.
While asleep, some people will stop breathing for ten to ninety seconds at a time. They will then jerk awake suddenly. This can occur several times during the night in people with sleep apnea. This condition can be potentially dangerous. If you think you may have this problem, get an evaluation at a sleep disorder center. Snoring is often associated with sleep apnea. Not always, but often.
There are ways you can work on relieving yourself of snoring. Lose weight, sleep with your head elevated on pillows, (which is also good for allergy symptoms), and never sleep on your back if you can help it. There are over 300 patented anti-snoring devices on the market today but these suggestions will usually alleviate snoring.
When you have restless legs syndrome, you have a powerful urge while resting to move your legs. In some it is not only very difficult to keep them still, it is nearly impossible. Leg movement usually accompanies restless leg syndrome when sleeping. Twitching and jerking are common during sleep. Take note of your sheets and bedding in the morning. If they are disheveled and all over the place when you arise, chances are you suffer from this syndrome. You can also ask your partner if you kick your legs around all night. Or perhaps you don't have to! They may be complaining already!
Ways to help this problem are to avoid caffeine. Get some exercise with your doctor's approval, of course. You could try a supplement, too. There are several that can help; iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamin E, but oftentimes prescription drugs are necessary to suppress restless legs.
Any of the following can disturb your sleep:
- Drinking. More than two cocktails, two beers or two glasses of wine a day.
- Abusing narcotics.
- Drinking coffee, tea or cola in the late afternoon or evening.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Severe stress at work or at home.
- Taking life too seriously and worrying frequently.
- Not exercising.
- Poor sleep habits. It is all too easy to get in a rut, causing you to perpetuate habits that fight sleep. Bed can become a sexual battlefield, or a symbol of the frustrating failure to sleep. Some people only sleep well on weekends when they feel more relaxed and are away from the stress of their job. Others cannot sleep in any other bed but their own.
Lack of Sleep Can Promote Weight Gain
A lack of sleep, along with making one tired and cranky, is also a culprit of weight gain. Those who sleep less than six hours a night are categorized as short sleepers. Those who sleep seven to eight hours a night are categorized as normal sleepers. Studies have now shown that the short sleepers have an impaired ability to dispose of blood glucose using insulin, which may put them at risk of obesity. More studies are being done to determine whether or not short sleepers can improve insulin sensitivity by sleeping more.
Another study done that proved interesting was done on those who slept only four hours a night. The results showed the metabolic levels in these people decreased and their ability to process carbohydrates had diminished. In the long term, these alterations could lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and mental sluggishness.
In conclusion of the weight issue and lack of sleep, it is strongly recommended one get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night for optimal metabolism and mental clarity. An occasional restless night shouldn't be detrimental to your weight, but a continued pattern could very well be.
Curing Your Insomnia
There are natural supplements that can help with insomnia. Hyland's Sleeplessness Tablets or Valerian Root are two popular and very helpful sleep aids. Best of all, there is no fear of side effects or addiction.
Many people swear that a drink made with hot water, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and honey (to taste) helps them get a more restful night's sleep. This isn't scientifically proven, but experimenting with it could be rather delicious.
More than 80 percent of those who suffer from insomnia can overcome this problem by identifying the causes and taking steps to eliminate them.
Keep a Daily Sleep Log and Day Log
In your sleep log, you will want to keep track of several things:
- The length of any naps you may have taken
- Sleeping medications you've taken
- What time you turned out the lights to go to sleep
- How long you think it took you to fall asleep
- Total minutes awake all night
- How often you woke
- When you got up
- Total hours slept
- How refreshing - or not refreshing -- your sleep was.
In your day log, record the following information:
- The amount and type of exercise you did
- Any incidents or thoughts about those incidents that upset you
- What and when you ate and drank
- Make note especially of high-sugar foods and caffeine
- Medications taken
Free Sleep Log
Download our free FREE sleep log!
After a couple weeks, determine which two nights were your best and which two were your worst. Give a lot of thought as to why you identified them that way. See if there are any changes that you can make to repair the situation.
Drinking coffee, tea or cola's with caffeine in the late afternoon or evening may keep you awake at midnight. As we age, our sensitivity to caffeine can increase. Any person who had more than three cups of coffee, tea or cola in a day or several pain pills containing caffeine can cause themselves sleep loss or difficulty at night. Those amounts can be addictive, also.
Drinking at night will cause your sleep to be troubled and fragmented. Reliance on alcohol could also lead to dependency. Many think alcohol makes one sleepy and it may for a time, but in reality, it makes it more difficult to sleep well. Note also, it can be lethal when mixed with sleeping pills.
Nicotine acts as a stimulant in your system. Smokers are notorious for complaints of insomnia. Cigarettes raise blood pressure, speed up heart rate and stimulate brain wave activity, making it difficult to relax. Just as with alcohol, many think a cigarette is relaxing when in truth, it is not. It isn't at all uncommon for a smoker to wake up at night due to the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine dependence.
If you are overly stressed, seek aid in relaxation techniques that will allow you better rest.Passion flower proves specially useful in the insomnia of infants and old people - It gives sleep to those who are laboring under the effects of mental worry or from mental overwork.
Hints for Sleeping
Sleep disorders are among the most common complaint doctors hear. The trouble is, few doctors know how to treat this problem. In medical school, a doctor most likely spent less than three hours on this subject. Often insomnia is misdiagnosed as anemia, a thyroid disorder or just laziness due to the similarities in symptoms. For many, the best route to take for help would be to a sleep disorder center.
Sleep disorder centers are equipped with advanced equipment and helpful counseling techniques needed to find the cause of your sleeping problem. Statistics have proven sleep disorder centers to have the ability to help four out of five people with sleeping problems, or insomnia. For a list of credible sleeping disorder centers (quacks can -- and do -- open sleep disorder centers) write to the following address and request a list of centers near you.
Resource: The National Sleep Foundation
You may also find of interest...
- Mind Over Matter
- Snoring and Your Heart (Timeless Health Tips)
- SLEEP (Timeless Fitness Tip)
- Sleep Apnea and Blood Pressure (Timeless Fitness Tip)
Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.