Most of us can experience periods of sleeplessness and episodes of insomnia from time to time. As such, it really is not something to worry about. Before too long, we usually find ourselves coming back to our normal sleep patterns with no harm done.
Yet research has found that around 30% to 50% of people report being affected by insomnia, while about 10% report suffering from chronic insomnia.
Exactly how much sleep each person needs is, of course, entirely subjective.
Some of us seem to need more and some less. But what is certain is that not everyone needs the much quoted standard 8 hours sleep. And worrying that we are not getting those full eight hours can complicate and increase sleeplessness itself.
In any discussion of insomnia, it is important to realize that it is not a diagnosis, but a symptom. If you have been experiencing sleeplessness for some time, then it really is advisable that you consult your doctor in order to eliminate any medical reason.
Once you have reassured yourself that there is no physical reason for your sleeplessness, you then have the responsibility of dealing with it.
First of all, what do we know about our body's need for sleep?
– Sleep is as important as food – Although no-one fully understands sleep itself, what is clear is that we do need it. What is not quite so clear, however, is how much sleep we actually do need. Children and younger people are known to need more and, as we age, we naturally seem to find ourselves needing less sleep.
– Lack of sleep affects the appetite – The hormone which regulates hunger is called leptin. When we do not get enough sleep, then leptin levels drop. Leptin is the hormone that tells the brain when we have had enough to eat and are full, and an insufficiency here can influence how – and how much – we eat, thereby affecting our weight.
– Affects of insufficient sleep may go unnoticed at first – Chances are that you may not notice how tired you really are. In order to compensate for serious lack of sleep, your body will automatically take 5 to 15 second micro-naps, dipping into and out of brainwave sleep. Since this can happen with the eyes open, often it happens without you realizing it. Obviously, this is not the ideal state in which to be operating machinery, driving a car of doing anything that requires your full focus and attention.
Whether or not lack of sleep is cumulative seems to depend on which authority you listened to. There are those experts in sleep research who maintain that we do indeed build up a cumulative 'sleep debt' and there are those who firmly oppose this idea.
What few would disagree on, however, is that sleep is an individual thing, with each person having his or her own needs that alter and fluctuate in different circumstances and at varying times in the life journey.
Here are a few things you can do in order to enhance your sleep experience and get the sleep that you need:
– Remove the clock from the bedroom – Accept that you do not really need to be aware of the time until you need to get out of bed in the morning. Lying awake watching the clock can only complicate and add to the anxiety of sleeplessness.
– Do not watch the news – Thought-provoking documentaries, intense dramas, overly stimulating TV programs and using the computer before going to bed are all ill-advised when it comes to falling and remaining sleep. The mind needs to be in the best position to unwind when we sleep and these will licit exactly the opposite state.
– Manage internal dialogue – Reserve the bed for sleeping and for making love. If you find yourself going over things again and again in your mind before going to sleep, get out of bed and commit your thoughts to paper or sometimes to a tape recorder.
– Get out of bed after 25 minutes – If you are unable to fall sleep within this time, get up and do something. No point in lying there sorry. Choose a boring, repetitive task that does not stimulate the mind: loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, cleaning shoes etc. Return to bed only when tired and ready to sleep. Stay up until then.
– Try to stay awake – This strategy is called 'paradoxical intent': or reverse psychology and will work only if you focus on staying awake, but not on anything else. Be sure to concentrate on the task of staying awake above any other thought.
– Learn systematic relaxation or self-hypnosis – Teach yourself how to let go of stress with relaxation exercise, or better yet, by learning self-hypnosis. Invest some time here and it can be subtracted from time wasted by sleeplessness.
Research has found that even individuals who thought they got very little or no sleep did actually experience sleep without being aware that they had done so – which proves that, when it comes to sleep, perceptions can be extremely unreliable.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when dealing with sleeplessness and insomnia is that inconvenient and worried because it can be, your body and mind will find ways to cope.
Trust in this and sooner or later nature will do the rest.
IMPORTANT: This Information is not a replacement for medical advice. If you suspect that you have a sleep disorder you are advised to visit your doctor or other qualified health care professional.
Source by Peter James Field