Trouble Sleeping

An article in the U.S. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) defines insomnia as follows:
“… (1) difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or nonrestorative sleep; (2) this difficulty is present despite adequate opportunity and circumstance to sleep; (3) this impairment in sleep is associated with daytime impairment or distress; and (4) this sleep difficulty occurs at least 3 times per week and has been a problem for at least 1 month.” Additionally from the JCSM – “Chronic insomnia is highly prevalent and affects approximately 30% of the general population.” – You can read the article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978319/

Insomnia can be called a disorder if it impairs your quality of life in any number of areas, including work or school performance, mental alertness, social life, physical and emotional well-being and energy, and interpersonal relationships. You will find this article from WebMD of interest:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/emotions-cognitive

Since the causes and types of insomnia vary from person to person, a cookie-cutter solution is probably not the best strategy. But there is agreement on common factors that might affect nearly everyone. Stress – in the form of worry, anxiety, depression, sudden upsets and disappointments, grief and loss – seems to be at or near the top of the list of causes. Some of my clients with insomnia describe their “racing mind that won’t shut off”. Overly-stimulated senses, especially our sense of vision – think of the video games and other activities we do while watching a screen – can make it hard to get to sleep. The abuse of caffeine, nicotine, sugary food and drink, alcohol and street drugs all qualify as major contributors. As you may know, insomnia is a side effect of some prescription drugs. And, oddly enough, some nights it seems as though your body just doesn’t feel like sleeping.

When I work with clients, no matter what the problem is, the focus is not so much on causes – more on solutions. So, here we go.

If you have regular trouble sleeping, you should know about “sleep hygiene”, a term used by The National Sleep Foundation. Here’s their definition: “Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.” Their list of sleep hygiene practices follows:
• Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
• Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
• Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
• Food can be disruptive right before sleep. Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
• Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
• Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
• Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
You can learn more by going to their website:
https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/sleep-hygiene

One more thing: do you use your phone, tablet, or computer just before going to bed? And do you sometimes have difficulty sleeping? The National Sleep Foundation has something to say about that. Please see the following article:

http://www.scpr.org/news/2011/03/07/24654/using-technology-bed-can-lead-insomnia/

If you would like to improve your sleep, I’ll be delighted to introduce you to the Alpha-Stim technology that has been helping people sleep for three decades, even soldiers who have suffered from the immediate aftereffects of combat. See the video on my Home Page or the Anxiety Page. And feel free to call 219-309-3928 for a no-cost consult.