For as long as scientists have known that sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy and chronic insomnia, can lead to serious health problems and they have know about it for many years, all sorts of insomnia cures have been marketed as the latest silver bullet.
Difficulty sleeping may be a real danger signal for a more serious illness although behavioural and environmental changes can have more of a positive impact on sleep than sleeping pills, sleep aids or other medications, without the risk of side effects or dependence.
Many people enviously read about Churchill or Edison’s sleeping habits and hope they could train themselves to sleep only 4 hours per night having far more time for other activities and more importantly not feeling the sleepiness during the waking hours that accompany insomnia.
Insomnia and worse chronic insomnia, the inability to get to sleep or sleep well at night, is a very common sleeping problem and is the most common sleeping disorder, a condition more prevalent in the western world than type 2 diabetes.
Although research suggests that people with chronic insomnia don’t usually become sleeping pill addicts, the use of sleeping pills over long periods of time, or in higher doses than recommended, can cause a rebound of insomnia that returns when you stop taking the medications.
As a result, it takes additional pills for people to sleep, with a tendency to up their dosage. People take sleeping pills because they don’t see rest as regenerative and refreshing and have reduced so much bed time that they have to get some fast sleep each night. So as one of the most used of insomnia cures, sleeping pills are not the answer.
Only take a sleeping pill when you will have enough time to get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Sleeping pills can help people sleep better, some feel more alert in the morning, others feel groggy and they are not for everyone. If you sleep against your natural rhythm you will often experience tiredness or drowsiness that can be resolved by adjusting your sleeping hours.
The most important advice for sleep deprived sufferers is to use your sleeping room for sleep only (and sex of course), keeping it dark and quiet.
With the currently available data on sleep the conclusion is to not try to compress NREM 2 by sleeping less. NREM is the non-rapid eye movement sleep, most of which is the less useful form of light sleep within the range of sleep stages.
With a little practice, these skills can improve your sleep better than a sleeping pill or sleep aid.
A huge chunk of the population inflict pain, misery and mental strife on themselves and their families by trying to regulate their sleep with alarms, irregular shift-work, sleeping pills, alcohol, caffeine, etc. By using artificial mechanisms like the electric light, alarm clocks and sleeping pills, we have wreaked havoc on the sleep process.
Your medical professional may decide you should go to a sleep clinic where you can be prescribed tablets in a way that will help avoid dependence however there is good news for the sleep deprived as in most cases of insomnia, cures can be of your own doing, without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills.
Now that being said there is a huge amount of advice and recommendations, a lot of which is on this site, which will almost certainly be of great benefit, but I find that for people I’ve spoken to in the past, a lot of the ideas are to radical and means too big a change in their lifestyle.
Using relaxation for sleep can be a useful technique, as can treating the anxiety and stress that can be the cause of insomnia.
Then there are all the good foods you can digest and all the bad stuff you should avoid but of all the insomnia cures out there, there is one that, since the 1980’s, that has been used to improve memory and concentration as well as treat ADHD, depression and YES! you’ve guessed it, insomnia.
It’s an audio option that trains the brain or “brainwave entrainment” – it sounds a little out there but as an option it doesn’t require a huge change in lifestyle or major commitment.Continue reading
Sleep, what’s it all about then? If you have laid in bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep then you might have asked this question to yourself on many occasions. The answer should be obvious but we really don’t know exactly. For those people who can’t sleep it is of little value to know that simply put, getting the right sleep is essential to help the body and brain function properly and lack of sleep can have devastating effects on mind and body.
It has long been understood that during periods of sleep the body mends and repairs itself, which indeed it does but in fact it is now believed that normal relaxation does the same or a similar job.
Besides, during sleep you are likely to be on the move betwen 20 and 40 times a night and certainly the brain remains active also, processing memories and emotions or what I like to think of as “housekeeping”.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Without a night of restful sleep you can simply feel rubbish during the day but after a few nights or more of sleep loss you can experience a whole range of physical and mental effects.
Sleep deprivation effects include a higher risk of depression, stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
And for example, sleep deprivation studies have shown that women who get less than 6 hours sleep a night are more likely of developing breast cancer than a women who gets 7 hours.
So as well as the immune system, the heart and circulatory system lack of sleep can also affect the hormonal system with the result that sufferers tend to eat possibly one and a half times more than good sleepers.
This may cause a vicious circle with obesity being one of the prominent causes for sleep apnoea.
Other symptoms of insomnia are a lowering of the immune system making you more likely to get infections, an impairment of co-ordination and judgement, certainly making you more dangerous on the roads, moodiness, causing relationship issues at home and work and overall a chronic lack of sleep is thought to overall lower your life expectancy.
So something needs to be done if you’re not getting the right sleep.
Stages of Sleep
There are 2 types of sleep REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non rapid eye movement which occurs within 5 stages of sleep which then constitutes a cycle lasting for around 90 minutes.
The first cycle begins with stage 1 NREM when you’re sleeping lightly. Stage 2 NREM follows when you’re arousal level is higher and lasts for 10 to 25 minutes. Stages 3 and 4 of NREM or slow wave sleep takes around 20 to 40 minutes in the first cycle. Stage 5 is REM sleep and lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes in the first cycle and around 60 minutes in the last.
So stages 1 and 2 can be seen as the slowing down of body functions in preparation for stages 3 and 4, slow wave sleep, in which your blood pressure and body temperature falls, your breathing slows down and your kidneys function is reduced, producing less urine. During these stages growth hormones are released aiding in the repair and maintenance of the body tissues and immune system.
Stage 5, REM sleep is characterised by the eyes darting all over the place. Your breathing rate increases along with your heart rate and blood pressure and the brain is as acitve as it is when you’re awake, however your muscles are temporarily paralized. This may be to prevent you acting out your dreams.
Your dreams are the manifestations of memories and experiences that are being processed and stored. This is why it is thought that too little sleep can affect memory.
Although you dream in REM sleep it is not as deep or satisfying as in deep sleep, stages 3 and 4.Continue reading