One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, reposition pillow again, try left side now move to right side…”I forgot to take shirts to dry cleaners and I still need to buy that birthday card” before you know it the alarm clock buzzes 6:00 am. Another sleepless night. Sound familiar?
Adults ideally need 6 to 9 hours of sleep each day for optimal health and daily functioning and to obtain REM sleep. However with the fast paced western lifestyle insomnia seems to be becoming a prominent problem for many. Insomnia affects between 30-40% of adults. Some people have trouble falling asleep while others have trouble staying asleep. It really only is considered troublesome when it affects someone’s daily life.
Common Culprits of insomnia
traveling (jet lag), anxiety, depression, medical conditions (acid reflux, congestive heart failure), medications (decongestants, stimulants, some antidepressants), nicotine, alcohol ingestion, caffeine, not being adequately active during the day, poor sleep hygiene, shift work, sleep apnea, and of course stress.
How it affects body/health?
-decrease in mental alertness and concentration levels
-decrease in memory functioning
-more likely to gain weight or unable to lose weight
-more likely to increase caloric intake (including carbohydrates due to the feeling of tiredness)
Sleep Hygiene tips
-wake up each morning at the same time even on the weekends
-use bedroom only for sleep or intimacy
-try relaxation techniques such as a hot/warm bath, listening to soothing music, yoga, reading a book
-limit or avoid alcohol
-limit or avoid caffeine, if you drink coffee limit to before 4:00 pm. (caffeine is included in coffee, teas, cola drinks as well as chocolates)
-limit or avoid smoking
-partake in a regular exercise program but try to avoid strenuous exercise about 4 hours before bedtime.
-make sure bedroom is dark and has limited noise.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland located in the brain. The natural levels of melatonin in the body will decrease as we age. Many people turn to melatonin to use as a sleep aide. It is relatively safe if used properly. Such as taking lowest dosages and for short term duration, is relatively safe. It is important to consult with your physician or healthcare provider to discuss its use with your health conditions and medications.
It is clear that sleep is vital our health and its important to make it a priority just like eating well and exercising that we rest as well.
Remember the healthier you are, the younger you’ll look
Body and Health Canada