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Hot Topic: Why Can't I Sleep?

Hot Topic: Why Can't I Sleep?


            Do you have trouble sleeping?  Do you feel ready for bed but can't actually fall asleep once your head hits the pillow? Do you wake up tossing and turning, just staring at the clock? Have you ever thought that you could have insomnia?  Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep.  It affects your energy, mood, and ability to function on a day to day basis.  In fact, many have gotten so used to sleep deprivation that at many Americans no longer know what it's like to feel fully alert and awake.  Even those who get their full eight hours of sleep a night can suffer from insomnia because it is based on your quality of sleep, not quantity.  Insomnia can occur for just one night up to several years. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

The number one answer to solving your sleep problems is to simply not worry about sleep.  Watching the clock, thinking about how much sleep you need for the next day's activities, forcing yourself to sleep at a certain time when you are not tired, and thinking about the stresses in your life will ultimately cause psychophysiological insomnia.  Keeping these thoughts out of your head will keep your mind rested, therefore leaving you more rested.

Another cause of insomnia could be blamed on your cup of coffee you had to wake yourself up this afternoon.  People do not realize that caffeine can stay in your system for an average of 15 hours, depending on your metabolism.  That afternoon cup of coffee to wake you up may keep you awake throughout the night.

Some may turn to self-medication to help themselves sleep at night.  Truth is much of these "self-medications" are what actually keeps you awake.  Whether it be the alcoholic drink to help you relax, the sleeping pill you think will put you to sleep faster, or the before bed cigarette that takes the edge off, all have negative effects on your sleeping.  Alcohol causes brain arousals throughout the night without you realizing that you are awake.  Although a harder habit to kick, nicotine is a stimulant and the addiction causes the same arousals to occur when your body begins to need nicotine again during the night.  Who knows...It may be an incentive to quit the habit if you know how it affects your sleep!

The key to finding a cure to your insomnia is to figure out what is causing the problem.  Of course, there are always the common reasons for insomnia, such as emotional stress, depression, anxiety, and underlying diseases and conditions, like sleep apnea.  These are not always the answer though.  Keeping caffeine intake to a minimum and a morning habit, avoiding late night alcohol consumption and choosing a sleep time that goes along with your biological clock are all the little behaviors that make falling asleep restful and enjoyable.




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Symptoms of insomnia:

  • o Difficulty falling asleep even when you're tired
  • o Waking up often during the night with trouble getting back to sleep
  • o Non-refreshing sleep
  • o Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep
  • o Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, or irritability
  • o Difficulty concentrating during the day

Little changes to help you sleep:

  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool-Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep.
  • Have a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoid naps
  •  Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Use a sleep diary to identify insomnia-Some habits are so ingrained that you may overlook them as a culprit to your insomnia.  Keeping a sleep diary is a helpful way to identify behaviors that may ultimately affect your sleep at night.
  • Check medications-If you take prescription medicine and have trouble sleeping, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if your meds can affect your sleep.