It’s no secret that we need sleep to regenerate and feel fresh. Insomnia and sleep deprivation can result in fatigue, and reduced functionality.
The percentage of people who have difficulty with sleep increases with advanced age. Older people are more prone to have disturbed sleep patterns than younger ones. Large numbers of individuals with sleep disorders or problems try to self-medicate and use over the counter supplements to get some relief.
Did you know that the rate of insomnia is higher in women than men?
Are there things you can do to improve the sleep quality?
The simple answer is yes. However, many times we desperately look for symptom management rather than attacking the cause of the problem. I’m aware that many times finding the cause of insomnia is difficult.
In my experience a detailed discussion about the aggravating and alleviating factors can help patients greatly.
Health problems—no different than everything else— are better and easier solved and treated if we start talking about them as soon as they happen.
The success with medication therapy is O.K. but not perfect. That is why I would like to offer you few conservative treatments that have shown to help people have a good quality sleep.
How to get your best night’s sleep
1. Avoid alcohol
It is a common myth that alcohol can help with sleep. Large numbers of people try to self-medicate their way through insomnia by drinking a good amount of alcohol every night. Alcohol may help some in the short-term. However, it has been shown to worsen insomnia on a long-term basis.
2. Don’t eat late
Eating late is bad, not only for the sleep quality but also for entire health. I usually don’t suggest eating any big meals 3-4 hours before sleep. If the stomach is full of steak, be 100% sure that your body will not let you to sleep.
You can’t expect to have a comfortable and quiet sleep when your stomach and bowels are in high alert and working hard.
3. Turn off the radio and TV
I know you want to find out about the latest on the stock market, politics, fashion and many different things or attempt to find a good movie on TV. However, it’s late and you should try to go to sleep. Don’t expect that the TV or radio is going to make you tired and sleepy, it will almost never happen.
There are always good movies, stories and breaking news out there that could stimulate you. One of the main steps to get a good quality sleep is to shut down all sources of stimulus, especially, media.
I shouldn’t forget about social media. Checking the likes and stories on Twitter and Facebook could be very exciting. However; it shouldn’t happen at bedtime. You should make yourself turn off the electronic devices.
4. Avoid over the counter antihistamines
People who are older than 65 years should be very cautious with taking over the counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (e.g. Benadryl). There isn’t enough evidence showing that these medications help with sleep. But what they have in common is a huge number of side effects such as drowsiness, diminished cognitive function and alertness, increased risk of fall, constipation, blurred vision and dry mouth. Long term usage of these medications is also not recommended in younger patients.
5. Don’t lay down in your bed forever
If you aren’t able to sleep don’t wait until it happens. Leave your bed after trying for 20 minutes and return when you’re ready to try again.
6. Avoid any stimulants
As we discussed, you will be more successful of getting a good night sleep if you aren’t exposed to stimulants. I mean anything that could activate your body and mind, including coffee, smoking, stress, anxiety and too much light and noise.
Pain is also one of the stimulants and often the reason for insomnia that should be managed. However it goes back to our discussion about finding the source of insomnia that requires a direct discussion with your physician.
Managing insomnia is complex and requires a comprehensive approach.
You want to know more about the best techniques to manage insomnia? If yes, click here to discover more.
I wish you a great sleep.