Dec 17, 2010

How to overcome insomnia

I myself suffer from insomnia that is why i have a special feature on this topic. Are there ways to treat this condition without having to take any medication?Let us explore insomnia together and learn how to overcome this condition.

 INSOMNIA:  causes and treatment

Are you always awake at night and cannot force yourself to sleep no matter how long you close your eyes and lay on bed? Your mind is always drifting and seem to be awake. You might be suffering from insomnia. So what is insomnia per se?

Insomnia includes any combination of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, intermittent wakefulness and early-morning awakening. Episodes can be transient, lasting as long as 2 weeks (short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).

A person suffering from insomnia may be noticed having posture changes, dark circles under the eyes, disoriented, gets tired easily, irritable or having reduced energy level. Insomnia may also trigger depression.

Causes of insomnia in adults:
·        Aging
·        Physical illness ( e.g.,  enlarged prostate, cystitis, COPD, arthritis, heartburn, toxic goiter, heart or lung problems)
·        Depression
·        Anxiety or stress
·        Alcoholism or abruptly stopping alcohol after long-term use
·        Poor sleeping environment such as excessive noise or light
·        Exhilaration or excitement
·        Frequent urination
·        Medications, such as thyroid medicine, ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, theophylline
·        Illicit street drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine
·        Restless leg syndrome
·        Stimulants taken in the evening (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, food)
·        Counterproductive sleep habits (sleeping too much during the day, early bedtimes, excessive time spent awake on bed)
·        Shift work
·        Jet lag
·        Lack of exposure to sunlight


Prior to opting to take medications for insomnia you should try to change your sleeping habits first. Treatment should be based on the cause of insomnia. Try some of these tips:
1  1.  Avoid emotional upset or stressful situations before bedtime. 
    2.  Avoid using alcohol in the evening. 
    3. Avoid caffeine for at least 8 hours before bedtime. 
    4.  Give up smoking; nicotine is a stimulant. 
    5.   Eat a light snack before bedtime. 
    6.  Exercise regularly, but not 2 hours before going to bed. 
    7.  Establish a regular bedtime, but don’t go to bed if you feel wide awake. 
    8. Relax by reading, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music before going to bed.
    9. Take your TV or computer out of the bedroom. 
   10. Use the bedroom for bedroom activities only.  Once in bed, use creative imagery    and relaxation techniques, e.g., deep breathing, yoga or meditation to keep your mind off unrestful thoughts. 
   11. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. Use earplugs or eye shades if needed.

Foods that Help or Harm Your Sleep

Here are the list of foods that you can eat at night and which ones to avoid for a restful slumber: 

1. 1. Tryptophan-rich foods
Dairy products contain tryptophan which is sleep-inducing substance. Other examples are poultry, bananas, oats and honey. 

2.   Carbohydrate-rich foods
Carbohydrate-rich foods complement dairy products by augmenting the level of tryptophan in the blood. Late night that might help you to snooze include a bowl of cereal and milk, or yogurt and crackers.

3.   Snack at bedtime
A little food on your stomach may help you fall asleep, but keep it small, otherwise it can make you uncomfortable  and prevent you from sleeping. 
4.  High fat-food
Avoid high-fat foods such as burger and fries. People who indulge on high-fat food not only gain weight, but they also experiences a disruption of their sleep cycle. 
5. Caffeine
Caffeine sources not only include coffee, but cola, tea, chocolate and decaffeinated coffee as well. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances.

6. Alcoholic beverages
Alcohol may help you sleep faster, but you may experience frequent awakening, thus less restful sleep, headaches, night sweat and nightmares.

7. Heavy, Spicy Foods
The digestive system slows down when you sleep, that is why lying down with a full belly can make you uncomfortable. Moreover, spicy food can cause heartburn.

 8.  Protein-rich foods
Protein-rich foods are harder to digest, making it a poor choice for a bedtime snack. 

9.  Fluids
Curtail your fluid intake before bed to avoid frequent urination a t night.

References for posts on sleep disorder :
1.     American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep Disorders.
2.     Centers for Disease control and Prevention.2010. Key Sleep Disorders.
5.     http://www.


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