The Bucket List
Sleep well--it's good for your health
DO YOU HAVE INSOMNIA?
Estimates are that 50 % of the population suffers from insomnia at some time. Occasional trouble getting to sleep is normal. But insomnia for a prolonged period may have serious effects on our health and well being, impacting depression, and decreasing our productivity and enjoyment of life.
Over-the-counter drugs and sleeping pills aren't the answer. Studies show that anxiety and insomnia drugs may lead to other illnesses and issues, and could well be a contributing factor in Alzheimer's, according to a recent report by the BBC based on Canadian and French research. Studies of seniors in Quebec, Canada indicated that nearly half of those with Alzheimer's in the study had been prescribed common benzodiazepine sleeping medications. The answer is not definitive—further research is going to be needed to determine if the drug treatment was prescribed to patients already suffering from Alzheimer's, but who may have not yet shown visible symptoms when the study was undertaken.
Also see the British Medical Journal Report
Since not getting enough sleep has a major impact on well being, if you think you suffer from it—you should try to avoid disturbed sleep, especially if it's starting to feel like a bad habit. “Restful sleep helps maintain health and happiness,” says Dr. Peter Asselbergs, an expert on insomnia and related issues, who believes naturally-based treatments are best. “When we’re sick, it helps to restore us. Sleep is important for safety—whether we're driving a car, using heavy machinery, or performing surgery—we need to be rested. If you’re tired, you won’t do your best in any job.”
Effects of Insomnia
Health and longevity are affected, your mind tends to be less attentive and your body may feel weaker, but you're not sure why. Not sleeping well may open the door to degenerative diseases, infections, and even premature aging. Missing out on sleep limits your productivity, even your safety during certain activities including work and when driving—try to solve the problem. Don't ignore it.
Signs of Insomnia
You may not be aware that you're missing out—signs you may have insomnia, or are not sleeping deeply or long enough, range from:
- Taking more than 30 mins to fall sleep
- Napping during the day
- Finding it hard to focus/concentrate
- Feeling irritable and cranky
- Memory worries/forgetting
- Waking early or often
- Nodding off at odd times
- Still feeling tired when you wake up
- Feeling drowsy when driving
Common Causes of Insomnia
- Jetlag/travel/unfamiliar places
- Life or circumstance change
- Busy schedule/late hours
- Shift work
- Business or financial worries
- Family or relationship stresses
- Noise or other disturbances
- Pain or medical conditions
- Emotional/mental state—worry, grief, depression, anxiety
- Too much alcohol or stimulants
- Drugs, including sleeping pills
- Too much caffeine/smoking
- Unhealthy diet
- Digestive problems
“Many sleep-related problems can be solved with simple changes of routine or habit,” says Dr. Peter Asselbergs.
15 Ways to Fight Insomnia
- Avoid excess use of stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate, or alcohol or food and beverages that contain caffeine, especially from afternoon onwards. Note from Dr. Peter Asselbergs: “Different people have different tolerances for these substances, but if you have a sleep disorder or insomnia or restless leg syndrome, they should definitely be avoided.”
- Avoid large meals, especially high protein meals, late at night.
- Avoid foods before sleep that may cause colitis such as dairy or highly-refined products, including white flour/sugar-based and junk food.
- Keep electrical and electronic devices out of the bedroom, including TVs/computers and other communication devices—hard as this may be to implement, also try to keep them out of children's rooms. We all need some ME time without external pressures.
- Avoid problem solving late at night.
- Make a list of what’s on your mind—then forget about it until tomorrow.
- Do not let anger or resentment linger—try to talk or write it out—sometimes writing down your problems means you're half way to coming up with a resolution—and helps you clear the mind until tomorrow. It's a positive step as rather than focusing on bad feelings, you're thinking about solutions. It's odd how often ways to fix our problems pop into our heads after a good night's sleep. It may be that writing down the issues helps file them away so our sub-conscious can get to work!
- Try to relax by listening to music or reading.
- Definitely avoid violent or disturbing TV shows—and don't watch the news. Let yourself power down.
- Get up at a reasonable time. if you wake up at 11 a.m., you may not be sleepy at bedtime
- Establish a routine before bed and stick to it every night: try a light evening walk, warm bath, a chapter of your favorite book.
- Try relaxation exercises, deep breathing, yoga, or indulge in quiet and alone time.
- Never work until bedtime—give yourself an hour off, at least.
- Keep your bedroom dark to facilitate the natural production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep and our health. Any light, but it is believed especially blue light and the glow from electronic devices, disturbs our sleep and disrupts how our bodies produce melatonin.
- Use a soft pillow—neither too high nor too low, but situated and flexible to keep your head in an intermediate position and avoid stressing your neck.
Alternatives to Medicines for Insomnia
With the worries about drug treatments, many individuals are looking for non-medicinal and natural remedies for a good night's sleep from acupuncture to yoga and relaxation techniques.
Many thanks to Dr. Peter Asselbergs, chiropractor and bio-chemist and founder of InsomniaMag.com, who is based in Italy and developed a natural treatment for patients with sleep problems, for many of these tips. Dr. Asselbergs treats sleep issues with the natural remedy Biomagnet®. “I developed this because the use of static biomagnets has shown to be extremely effective in achieving profound sleep. And with the growing understanding of the affects on health of taking anti-anxiety and sleeping pills, anything that I can recommend to patients that uses natural techniques is definitely a great option.”
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