Puritan Ad

Personal Care - 468X60

Insomnia: Natural, Inexpensive Ways to Combat Sleeplessness

Not being able to sleep as deeply or a long as you think you should is a very common problem.  Part of this problem arises because of false beliefs about sleep, and part because of things we do that actually decrease our ability to sleep deeply.  There are very good medicines for people with true insomnia; this post is for those who have trouble sleeping, and would like to try every cheap and natural means to correct the problem before resorting to medications.  First, let's talk about the natural sleep cycle with respect to getting older, and some things that can mess up your sleep.

It is completely natural for it to take anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes for you to fall asleep.  Everyone is different in this respect, and one is not better than the other.  Using medication to try and change this is not a good idea.

Natrol Melatonin Timed Release, 3mg 100 tablets
Great Sleep Aid
As you get older it is a natural and normal thing for you not to sleep as deep, or as long, as you did as a younger person.  It is normal for a person who slept "dead to the world" for eight good hours every night in their 20's, to "cat-nap" for 5-6hrs nightly in their 60's and beyond. A good rule of thumb as one gets old is, if you don't find yourself falling asleep during waking  hours then you are getting enough sleep during your sleep hours, even if you feel that you are not sleeping well.  If you find yourself falling asleep in the car during red-lights, or dozing off in the doctor's waiting room then you may not be getting enough sleep.  If you are not sleeping well, then before you start taking a pill, let's make sure you are not doing anything to interrupt your natural sleep cycle.

Many patients want a pill that will "knock me out".  Since some doctors have obliged them in the past, they feel this must be a healthy request.  I have to inform them that it is not natural or healthy to be "knocked out".  Healthy, refreshing sleep is something you slip into gradually over 10-60 minutes.  Taking anything that will turn off the lights quickly is definitely a good way to wild up hooked on something, or to have long-term problems with your sleep cycle.

When I was a teenager, I could drink a 2-Liter Mountain Dew and then go immediately to sleep; now, if I have any caffeine after noon, I'll be up at 3 am tossing and turning!  Both caffeine and nicotine appear to have greater negative effects on sleep as you age.  So a good rule is to stop any caffeine at lunch, and keep nicotine use as far away from bedtime as possible; better yet, just QUIT SMOKING!

Say Good Night to Insomnia
Good Book
Some medicines can affect your sleep. Steroids like prednisone can really interrupt your sleep cycle.  So if you're having to take steroids for an itchy rash or some medical problem, you can expect to get less that good sleep until you have finished your medicine.  Beta-Blockers such as atenolol and metoprolol, and some pain medications can aggravate certain peoples sleep problems, and help others.  If you have to take these medicines then you will have to experiment with the best time of day for you to take them.

I personally have found that having kids or pets in the bed is a good way to get a bad nights sleep.  As much as you love them, if lack of sleep is interfering with your daytime happiness, it may be time to send them to their own bed.

Eating a light snack before bed-time may help you fall asleep, but a big meal can interfere with deep sleep, and also can cause heartburn.

Exercise is a must if you want to sleep deeply.  It is best to exercise at least 4 hours before bed; exercising too closely to bedtime can leave you tossing and turning.  I've had many a patient complaining of not sleeping deeply correct this problem immediately (and for free) by starting to walk a mile or two each day.

Some people notice that having milk or turkey helps them fall asleep better, this is because of of the tryptophan they contain.  This doesn't seem to help everyone, though.  Two other natural sleep aids are melatonin and Valerian root.  Neither will knock you out nor cause disruptions in the sleep cycle; but they will help most everyone have more restful nights.  Over the counter sleep aids like Tylenol-PM contains benadryl and are fine for occasional use.  No research has shown that any of these sleep aids to be habit-forming or problem-causing.

I Can Make You Sleep: Overcome Insomnia Forever and Get the Best Rest of Your Life! Book and CD
Good New Book
Many folks think that alcohol is a good sleep aid, but we need to talk about this...  Having one drink in the evening may in fact help you sleep better, but more alcohol is Not better.  Oh, and for my red-neck buddy's, one drink is defined as one 12oz beer, or 1oz of alcohol in a mixed drink, or 8oz of wine; sorry but "40's" and "stovepipes" count as more than one drink!  Too much alcohol before bed and you will fall asleep quicker, but you will stay in the shallow stages of sleep most of the night and thus not feel rested the next day, or wake in the middle of the night and be unable to return to sleep.  Also, you will quickly become habituated to this pseudo-sleep-aid and won't be able to fall asleep without more of it. 

More tips on getting a better night of sleep can be found here and here.

You can email this to a friend any friend who would benefit from this info by clicking the little envelope icon () just below...

No comments:

Post a Comment