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Sleeplessness And Insomnia - Facts And Solutions
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Sleeplessness and Insomnia  -  Facts and Solutions

If you're reading this, you've probably experienced a few sleepless nights. Most people don't realize how pervasive sleep problems can be and how many ways it affects us.

Sleeplessness or insomnia can involve difficulty in falling asleep, difficulty in staying asleep, unrefreshed feeling when waking up, or waking up too early.

Common causes of sleeplessness include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression and grief, mood disorders, inappropriate sleeping environment, overeating, dehydration, alcohol withdrawal, jet lag, strong coffee and cola, drugs, and emotional excitement or euphoria.

Some of the facts pertaining to sleeplessness and insomnia are surprising. 50-70 million Americans suffer from some kind of chronic sleep disorder. Only 35% of Americans get 8 or more hours of sleep a night during the work week. Women suffer from insomnia more than men. Hormonal events like menstruation or pregnancy can disturb women's sleep. One study shows that men lose 80% of their deep sleep as they age from 16 to 50. Statistics show that US industry loses $150 billion each year because of sleep deprived workers. Lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems, kill your sex drive, cause depression, age your skin, increase your risk of death, impair your judgement, cause weight gain, and make you forgetful. Prolonged sleep deprivation increases the risk of diabetes and obesity, strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Sleep requirements decrease as we age. While a newborn requires 12-18 hours of sleep, school age children 5-10 years of age require 10-11 hours. Children 10-17 years of age need 8.5 - 9.25 hours of sleep, and when we become adults, our required amount of sleep drops to 7-9 hours.

There are several things you can do to help ensure a good night's sleep. Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends, and limit your day time naps. Hard as it may be, try to limit your late night TV. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex, and not for television viewing. Exercise in the late afternoon can make it easier to fall and stay asleep. Surprisingly, a light evening snack consisting of complex carbs and proteins an hour before bedtime can lead to better sleep. That being said, certain foods and beverages should be avoided 4-6 hours before you go to bed. They include heavy or spicy foods, caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea, or soda, and alcohol, which helps some people fall asleep but results in nighttime awakenings. One of the most frequent causes of sleeplessness or insomnia is caused by stress. Going to sleep at night with all kinds of thoughts and concerns racing through our minds can easily result in a poor night's sleep. Reducing your stress will no doubt result in a better night's sleep. One of the best ways to manage your stress, whether it be during the day or right before bedtime, is to use biofeedback. There are now small portable biofeedback devices that you can use at work or home to help you reduce your stress, lower your heart rate, and bring you into an emotional state of happiness.

If you have problems getting a good night's sleep, for whatever reason, know that you are not alone. Lack of sleep can result in physical illness, depression, poor productivity, and an unfulfilled and unhappy life. The good news is that you can get a better night's sleep by managing your stress and taking the appropriate steps prior to bedtime. Once you are on a roll of several restful nights in a row, your sleep issues could soon become a thing of the past.


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