How To Correct Your Sleep Disorder

DR YOMI GARNETT By DR YOMI GARNETT, 17th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Sleep

Sleeplessness can be a very real menace. Learn the most effective strategies for combating it to regain your normal sleep pattern. Your usual energy and vitality is only a decent snooze away!

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is insufficient, disturbed and non-restorative sleep, and three forms of it are now recognized: occasional insomnia of one to two nights, short term insomnia of three nights to two weeks, and chronic insomnia of longer than two weeks, or frequent episodes of this chronicity. Put in simpler terms, insomnia is an inability to get a good night’s sleep, and far from being a benign, harmless condition, it can actually be a costly ailment, causing serious dislocations in family life and corporate performance. The most common forms of it are: difficulty with falling asleep, difficulty with staying asleep, difficulty with getting back to sleep after waking up at night and feeling drowsily tired on awakening in the morning, and this can extend into the rest of the day.
of one to two nights, short term insomnia of three nights to two weeks, and chronic insomnia of longer than two weeks, or frequent episodes of this chronicity. Put in simpler terms, insomnia is an inability to get a good night’s sleep, and far from being a benign, harmless condition, it can actually be a costly ailment, causing serious dislocations in family life and corporate performance. The most common forms of it are: difficulty with falling asleep, difficulty with staying asleep, difficulty with getting back to sleep after waking up at night and feeling drowsily tired on awakening in the morning, and this can extend into the rest of the day.

Causes of Insomnia

While, admittedly, everyone is subject to the occasional period of poor sleep, chronic and recurrent insomnia can, however, usually be traced to specific causes. We all have physiological biological clocks deep within our brains, which control regular fluctuations in body functions. The clock controlling sleep-wake typically cycles every twenty five hours, and in some people, this normal cycle can become either abnormally shortened or prolonged.
Over-The-Counter medications, which include nasal decongestants, cough syrups, diet pills and sleeping pills, can disturb the normal pattern of sleep activity in the brain. Of course, substances of abuse, such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and cocaine, can also disturb sleep patterns, and so interfere with sleep.
The abrupt discontinuation of certain medications, after weeks or months of regular use, can also precipitate insomnia. For example, people who have been on tranquilizers and pain killers can develop insomnia when they suddenly stop using them. In fact, the cessation of long–term usage of sleeping pills can cause a well-known condition called rebound insomnia, and this can last for weeks.
Another group of causes are anxiety, worry, depression and stressful life events. After a protracted period of not sleeping well for several days, many people typically become quite worried, frustrated and even depressed. This propels them to put psychological pressure on themselves to sleep, which in turn leads to increased anxiety at bedtime and this further interferes with sleep. This pattern precipitates a vicious cycle that is technically termed failure-worry-more failure-more worry, and once this vicious cycle is established, the sleep-failure pattern becomes self-perpetuating.

Negative Conditioning

Some insomniacs form negative associations with their bedrooms, such as lying in bed, in the dark, for hours on end, literally learning to fear the very act of trying to get to sleep, and in the process, becoming negatively conditioned about success in this area. This unfortunate tendency is not unlike what men experience when they have an attack of erectile impotence. An incontrovertible fact is that the harder you try to make yourself sleep, the less success you will have. Tragically, also, the longer your sleeping problem lasts, the more difficult it will be to correct, for the simple reason that, over time, you are likely to inculcate more bad habits and negative associations.

So, Just How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Although this varies from one individual to the next, the amount of sleep that is appropriate for you is that amount which enables you to remain wide-awake, alert and energetic throughout the day, and for most adults this will range between seven and nine hours, although some can be comfortable with as little as four to five hours.

Combating The Menace of Sleeplessness

The best way to deal with the isolated, single or couple of bad nights of sleep is simply to go to bed early the very next evening. Taking naps can make you less tired during the day, but they may make you less able to sleep at night. What is more, the habit can interfere with the re-institution of your normal sleep-wake cycle.

Avoid Stimulants

It is advisable to avoid the use of caffeine to keep awake during the day, or the ingestion of alcohol to assist in getting you to sleep at night, for the simple reason that both of them can easily alter the normal sleeping cycles in the brain, which can lead to further and, perhaps, long-standing insomnia. Admittedly, alcohol’s sedative and calming effect can help get people to sleep initially, but it tends to increase night-time awakening, and reduces Stage 3 brain activity which is needed for proper rest. However, you can use sleeping pills to help you catch up on your sleep, as long as it’s just for a night or two, as protracted use of such drugs can also disrupt the normal sleep patterns in your brain.

Avoid Conditioned Behavior

There is an ever present constellation of conditioned thoughts and behavioral responses that can become associated with one’s sleeping environment. After protracted and unsuccessful attempts to get to sleep, your bed, or even the entire bedroom, can become associated with your failure to get to sleep. Of course, insomnia-sustaining behavior, such as staying in bed for far too long when you can’t get to sleep, can also aggravate the problem. An interesting validation of this theory is seen in the fact that people tend to finally get to sleep well in places that they don’t normally associate with sleep, finding, for instance that they may not have trouble sleeping on vacations, or at a friend’s home.
Other conditioned responses that can lead to bad sleep habits include: failure to adhere to a consistent sleep-wake schedule, trying to catch up on lost sleep over the weekend, thinking of work-related problems during the night, excessive time awareness or frequent clock-watching while in bed and exercising vigorously too close to bedtime. A seemingly involuntary trait in insomniacs is time-watching. A compulsive glance at the clock every five to ten minutes while lying in bed, or a furtive peep at the clock to see what time it is anytime you awaken during the night is unnecessary behavior that should be avoided, and to help you with this, you could consider keeping clocks away from your bed.

Avoid A Noisy Sleep Environment

A safe, quiet and comfortable sleep environment is very important to anyone with sleep difficulties. If bothersome noise appears to pose a problem, the human sources of such noise will necessarily have to cooperate with you. If minor noises distract you from sleep, a constant background noise may just be what you need to help you get to sleep. Alternatively, you might also consider using ear plugs, which can be particularly helpful in coping with a snoring spouse.

Helpful Pre-Sleep Rituals

Fortunately, however, these unhelpful habits can be reversed, especially with positive pre-sleep rituals, for instance, reading, a warm bath, listening to soft music or anything else that can help put you in a relaxed mode before going to bed. Another powerful strategy is to retire to bed only when you feel sleepy. This translates, roughly, to making sure that you do not employ your bed for any other purpose than sleep. The beauty of this strategy is quite apparent in the fact that it positively associates your bed with feeling sleepy.
Yet another effective strategy is to avoid trying to sleep. The more you try to will yourself to sleep, the worse your problem is likely to become. Sleep is not a task you must perform. It, rather, requires a relaxed, calm and peaceful state in which you are not willfully trying to do anything.
One of the best ways to terminate insomnia is the disciplined establishment of a consistent wake-up time, and to adhere strictly to it. If, for instance, you set your alarm for, say, nine a.m. every day, it would be better to ensure that you vacate your bed at that time. The disciplined establishment of a consistent wake-up time encourages your body and brain to adopt an equally consistent sleep-wake pattern, which will take over naturally on its own after a while.

A Trip Away From Home Can Work The Magic!

Ironically, for a lot of people, a business trip, or a short holiday, can be all it takes to re-institute normal sleeping patterns. An amazing thing usually happens when someone who has suffered insomnia embarks on a business or holiday trip. The usual scenario is that, on arrival at his room at the hotel, such a person would sit on the bed, laying his head on the pillow for a moment of recuperation after an exhausting flight. Almost invariably, that act of relaxation is usually the last awareness he would have of his conscious self. More than six hours later, he would spring awake, still fully dressed, and full of wonder that all it had taken to break his insomnia was a change in environment!

Tags

Causes Of Insomnia, How Much Sleep, Insomnia, Negative Conditioning, Sleep Disorder, Sleep Problem, Sleeping Time, Sleepless Nights, Sleeplessness, Stimulants And Sleep, Treatment Of Insomnia

Meet the author

author avatar DR YOMI GARNETT
I am a physician turned creative writer. I have authored three books; one on stress, and the other two in the genre of the motivational. I am also a ghostwriter, biographer and article writer.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
18th Oct 2013 (#)

Useful and comprehensive share, thanks - siva

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