Can’t sleep? here’s what you can do….
Last night you couldn’t sleep and as a result, you were tired and irritable all day. Now it’s bedtime and you’re worried if it will happen again. That becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, of course. You toss and turn.
Every time you look at the clock, you get more aggravated. You know the next day will be awful, and it’s even worse than you expected. Once insomnia gets started, it’s very hard to stop the pattern. You know you need to find some way to get a decent night’s sleep.
Medical problems can cause irregular sleep
First, you need to find out if there are underlying medical causes for your sleeping problems. If you haven’t had a physical for a while, you’ll want a doctor to examine you and talk about whether you have a medical condition that is causing insomnia. People with arthritis, for example, may have trouble sleeping because of pain and need to take pain medication at night before bed. Certain mental conditions like depression and bipolar disorder can cause insomnia.
Sleeping problems can also be linked to cancer, congestive heart failure, lung disease, increased blood sugar levels, overactive thyroid, stroke, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and gastroesophagael reflux disease. If your doctor thinks you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or Restless Legs Syndrome, he or she may refer you to a sleep center for special testing.
Side effects of drugs
One thing to check on is whether you are taking any drugs that can affect sleep. A number of prescription drugs can cause sleeping problems, including antidepressants, stimulants (such as Ritalin), corticostersoids, heart and blood pressure medication, and allergy medications. Over-the-counter drugs may contain caffeine and other stimulants that keep you from sleeping. These drugs include decongestants, weight loss products, and some pain medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether any drugs could be causing your insomnia.
Say goodbye to bad habits
If there’s no medical condition causing your insomnia, some changes in your life may be needed to improve your sleep. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, cola, or other drinks with caffeine in the late afternoon because that can keep you from falling asleep. If you smoke, your insomnia is another good reason to quit, since nicotine is a stimulant that causes insomnia. Another stimulant is exercise, which is great for your body generally. However, exercising within 6 hours of bedtime can contribute to insomnia.
Remove TV from your bedroom
You need to work to improving your sleep environment and habits. If there’s a television or computer in your bedroom, it’s a good idea to remove them and just use that room and your bed for sleeping. Big meals right before bed can make it hard to sleep. Finding a way to relax before bed is important. Create a nightly ritual like a warm bath, breathing exercises, reading or listening to quiet music. Avoid drinking alcohol, which may relax you, but will make you sleep more lightly and wake up during the night. Any beverage close to bedtime is likely to make you wake up and have to go to the bathroom a lot during the night. Put your clock where you can’t see it so you don’t keep checking the time and worrying about whether you’ll ever get to sleep.
Take sleep medications as last resort!
If you still are having trouble sleeping, you may want to consider sleep medication. Over-the-counter sleep aides contain antihistamines that make you drowsy, but they can cause dry mouth, daytime sleepiness, and/or blurred vision. Your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills to help you break out of the insomnia pattern.
At some point in our lives, most of us get insomnia. Sleep is something we take for granted until we lose it. Making these changes in your life should soon help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. Curing your insomnia and getting good sleep is an incredible relief.