A lot of people are suffering insomnia including myself. I'm not sure if it’s Ramadan or just the summer craziness but we all could really use some sleep right now. Insomnia is a symptom to a sleep disorder which is characterized by the difficulty to fall asleep, not getting enough sleep or even staying asleep. To call yourself an insomniac, you should suffer from it for at least 1 month. There are 3 types of insomnia, transient insomnia (lasts for less than a week and is usually a result of stress, depression, or changes in sleep environment or timing), acute insomnia (lasts for up to a month), and chronic insomnia (lasts longer than a month and affects motor and mental functions). The lack of restful sleep can affect your ability to carry out simple, daily tasks as it leaves you tired, disoriented and lacking concentration. To give your body enough rest, you should sleep for 8 hours but of course this varies from one person to another, some people wake up refreshed after only 4 hours of sleep and others need 10 so the best way to know how you feel when you wake up the following day. Some people take medications for insomnia which do in fact work temporarily but can worsen the condition on the long run and also cause tolerance and dependence (being un-able to sleep without it and requiring higher doses for the same effect). Anti-histamines as well are useless over time and affect your memory on the long run. Insomnia may cause dark circles, puffy eyes, fatigue, restlessness, disorientation, reduced energy levels and posture changes. Here’s what you can do to fight insomnia naturally:
1. Take a warm bath: a long hot soak can leave you relaxed and ready to sleep.
2. Get a massage: just before you sleep, get your spouse or a massage therapist to ease that tension at the nape of your neck and back to soothe your body before you hit the sheets.
3. Listen to slow music: there are some CDs designed for that purpose, usually containing ocean sounds or rhythmic heartbeats.
4. Have a hot drink: milk or herbal teas (chamomile, anise, or fennel) contain natural ingredients that soothe the nervous system and help you sleep.
5. Have a bedtime snack: do not eat a heavy meal before you go to bed, instead snack on some juice and cheese one hour before you sleep.
6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco: these three contain substances responsible for your alertness. We know you’ve heard it a million times before and you can’t stop the bad habit, but at least try.
8. Sleep on your back, on a firm mattress: It's the best position for relaxing your spine, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. If you must sleep on your side, do it on your right side, not your left. Sleeping on the left side causes your lungs, stomach and liver to press against your heart causing stress on the organ. Never sleep on your stomach as it causes pressure on all your internal organs -- including your lungs, which results in shallow breathing and a stiff neck (from the posture).
9. Exercise: working out for 15 minutes, an hour before you go to bed will give your body the oxygen it needs to help you relax and sleep better.
10. Keep regular bedtime hours: keeping a regular time for sleeping daily will make it easier for you to fall asleep. Get up at the same time every day even on weekends; don’t sleep in because our bodies just love the routine.
If the condition presumes or worsens, you should see a doctor to look for any underlying causes that might be the reason why you can’t sleep at night.