There's nothing like a good night's sleep, but millions of people istruggle with INSOMNIA, a large majority of those frequently. An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep problem, such as insomnia, sleep apnea or sleep disorder, as well as sleep disturbances associated with many illnesses such as tinnitus or addictions, according to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Issue of restlessness and not getting enough sleep is also due to people always tethered to work, tapping into computers, cellphones and social media late into the day, plus there's the economic stress from worries about raising families and affording retirement. There are many symptoms of this condition such as:
- Difficulty falling asleep despite being tired
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Trouble getting back to sleep when awakened
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
"Insomnia is among the most common problems encountered in medicine," says David Neubauer, associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore. "Sleeplessness at nighttime and poor concentration and fatigue during the daytime are terribly frustrating."
In order to properly treat and cure your insomnia, you need to become a sleep detective. Emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression cause half of all insomnia cases. But your daytime habits, sleep routine, and physical health may also play a role. Try to identify all possible causes of your insomnia. Once you figure out the root cause, you can tailor treatment accordingly.
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed? Do you feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your sleep environment quiet and comfortable?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
More About Dealing with Insomnia and Sleep Supplements
Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when the insomnia is tied to an obvious temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Having difficulty sleeping can also make anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include anger, worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.
Medical problems or illness. Many medical conditions and diseases can contribute to insomnia, including asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancer. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia.
Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine (Midol, Excedrin), diuretics, and slimming pills.
Sleep disorders. Insomnia is itself a sleep disorder, but it can also be a symptom of other sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and circadian rhythm disturbances tied to jet lag or late-night shift work.
Identifying Activities and Patterns That Cause Insomnia and Sleeplessness
While treating underlying physical and mental issues using drugs maybe a good first step, it may not be enough to cure your insomnia. You need to look at your daily activites. Some of the things you’re doing to cope with insomnia may actually be making the problem worse. If you are using (prescribed) sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep, you may disrupt sleep even more over the long-term.
Note: Using prescribed sleeping pills over long term are detrimental to you health. Not only do you need more of it as time passes, in many cases you become depressed. Just check the fine print of any sleeping pill and you will find the horrific side effects
Poor daytime habits contribute to insomnia, but a poor night's sleep can make these habits harder to correct, creating a vicious cycle of un-refreshing sleep
How to Fight Insomnia?
Prevention is better than cure. But if you are suffering from insomnia there is always something you can do to help.
Two powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia are a quiet, comfortable sleep environment and a relaxing bedtime routine. Both can make a big difference in improving the quality of your sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, and a bedroom that’s too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable mattress or pillow can all interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to mask outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide the support you need to sleep comfortably.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning even if you’re tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. Electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts your body’s production of melatonin and combats sleepiness. So instead of watching TV or spending time on your phone, tablet, or computer, choose another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime. This includes checking messages on social media, big discussions or arguments with your spouse or family, or catching up on work. Postpone these things until the morning.
When You Need More Help to Sleep
Sometimes though you will need more help than just managing your environment. This is where sleep supplements come into play. Melatonin, Valerian Root, Chamomille flower extract and teas and so on. Most of these have no measureable negative impact over a person's health.
There are many dietary and herbal supplements marketed for their sleep-promoting effects. Although they may be described as “natural,” be aware that sleep remedies can still have side effects and interfere with other medications or vitamins you’re taking.
While scientific evidence is still being gathered for alternative sleep remedies, you might find that some of them work wonderfully for you. The two supplements with the most evidence supporting their effectiveness for insomnia are Melatonin and Valerian Root.
- Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that your body produces at night. Melatonin helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It may be an effective insomnia treatment for you—especially if you’re an extreme “night owl” with a natural tendency to go to bed and get up much later than others.
- Valerian Root is an herb with mild sedative effects that may help you sleep better.
- Chamomile is an herb that people have used for centuries. In US we know it as a tea to help with relaxation and sleep.
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Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland camera.gif, a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin can be used in supplement form as an occasional sleep aid, and is especially effective against jet lag,”
According to research, the body naturally produces melatonin after the sun goes down, letting us know it’s time to fall asleep. Supplemental melatonin assists with this process. When combined with light therapy, melatonin helps minimize nighttime restlessness in elderly dementia patients, according to a 2008 study. In most cases, melatonin supplements are safe in low doses for short-term and long-term use
Along with contributing to a good night’s sleep, this light, silvery metallic element is an oft-overlooked nutrient that helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, and promotes normal blood pressure, according to the NIH. Lack of magnesium inhibits nerve cell communication, which leads to cell excitability.
The result: a stressed and nervous person. Several older studies show that magnesium can improve sleep quality and reduce nocturnal awakenings.
First used as medicine in ancient Greece and Rome for centuries and now used to treat a variety of ailments, the Valerian herb is native to Europe. Valerian is commonly known for both its ability to relax the nervous system and its sedative qualities.
Most experts recommended this herb to reduce the amount of time it takes to nod off. According to the NIH, no single compound in valerian has been identified as the active agent. However, the NIH reports that valerian seems to have sedative properties, and it may increase the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a compound in the brain that prevents the transmission of nerve impulses.
Potential Side Effects of Sleep Supplements
Just like everyone can have a different reaction to a food where one consume it without issues whereas another person may be allergic, herbs can have similar effects. In general these are safe to use. For example Melatonin has shown to be safe when used over multiple years. Food supplements are in general not regulated by the FDA so there are no official guidelines on consumption.
To be on the safe side you should not take any food supplement if you are a pregnant or nursing mother or a child under the age of 18. If you are taking prescription medication do consult with your doctor before taking any form of supplement. Always follow the cautions and directions listed on the label of any medication or supplement you take.