Do you ever wonder where your get up and go has gone? Has it deserted you for good? How often have trouble falling to sleep, remaining asleep? Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night deep in serious thought? Insomnia sucks, it can rob us of our lives, but why do we suffer this malady?
The average person spends about a third of their life in bed, hopefully getting beneficial sleep. And then there folks like myself who might be in bed, yet find sleep to be ever so elusive. We sometimes can dial right in on the problem, yet often the cause is sketchy at best. There are any number of issues which can rob us of our much needed slumber, stress being the most common, and major factor. Sometimes, just the stress alone of laying there wondering if you will ever nod off is enough to keep you awake.
Often, sleep disturbances result from depression, sporadic sleeping habits, having a disrupted sleep pattern such as I have being a professional trucker on top of being a health and wellness author. Most of the time, this life robbing malady of insomnia is a result of psychological and emotional stress. If you suffer insomnia, is it because you are “all wound up”, or “have too much work to accomplish” of find yourself struggling with children and home responsibilities which can hamper the amount of time you can dedicate to slumber.
Hot flashes associated with menopause, and chronic fatigue syndrome are associated with poor sleep habits. Folks who exercise are usually much less prone to insomnia than sedentary people, however, if you get in vigorous exercise within 4 hours of your bedtime, you may find your body is too invigorated to fall asleep. I personally have this problem when I train with my free weights too close to retiring for the evening.
Hormones also might be robbing you of a good nights rest. Some women report needing more time to sleep during PMS. A woman might require more sleep during the first trimester of pregnancy than during the final trimester. Sleep disorders also increase as we age and if we have other health issues. such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), medical conditions such as allergies, heart burn, medications, smoking or even just the environment you are surrounded by.
Another avenue which may be causing your insomnia may be what you eat, since many dietary habits can and will interfere with your sleep. Consider that you may be killing your sleep through the consumption of coffee, alcohol, the size and spiciness of your evening meal. quick weight loss dieting and even some food additives, which is one reason I personally do not eat processed foods any longer. Nor do I advise you to either.
If you are an insomniac, there are things you can do to help it. Watch how much and what you eat for dinner. Large, fat laden meals may make you drowsy, but can ultimately keep you awake later at night. Heavy meals stimulate prolonged digestive action, which can keep you awake. Try eating your largest meals for either breakfast or lunch while keeping your evening meals light. You should consider keeping your evening meal at 500 to 600 calories and include chicken, extra lean meat, or fish in order to keep you satiated all night long. You really do not want to be waking up at midnight and subsequently find yourself cruising the refrigerator or pantry because your stomach is rumbling from hunger. Most often, this kind of grazing results in folks eating what ever is handy and already prepared. This is the time when it easy to snack on that cake on the counter or to grab a spoon and eat ice cream straight out of the carton as you are trying to decide what else to eat. If you have ever had a weight problem, you likely know exactly what that is all about. Spicy or gas forming foods can wreck your sleep for obvious reasons. Spicy foods will really get to you if you are obese with added pressure from your gut trying to push the contents of your stomach back up your esophagus, the ill effects of acid reflux or GERD. Meals prepped with garlic, hot peppers or chilies can cause bad heartburn and indigestion. Foods seasoned with mono sodium glutamate (MSG) can cause sleep disturbances such as vivid dreaming and restless sleep for some. Snarfing down gas-forming foods and eating too fast which can cause you to swallow air, can cause you to feel bloated and uncomfortable, which in turn robs you of quality sleep. Try avoiding gas-forming and spicy foods, at dinner time, and eat slowly to thoroughly chew the food and to avoid gulping air.
If we have ruled food out as the source of our insomnia, stress is the most likely culprit. One tenet of David’s Way is the reduction of stress in order to improve our lives. Controlling our stress levels can greatly improve or eliminate our problems with getting a good nights rest. The bitch of having stress rob us of sleep is it becomes a vicious circle where sleep deprivation actually increases our stress load which interferes with our ability to solve problems, which can eventually pull us down mentally until we find a way to end the stress. Besides practicing coping skills during your day, try to not allow stress into your bedroom at night. You can do this by setting aside a time early in the day to deal with worries such as an ever building pile of bills and other life issues. In the evening, you should be trying to unwind at least 3 to 4 hours before you retire. You can do this by soaking in a hot bath or shower, reading a book in bed. Turn off your television and or other electronic devices. Also, do not pay bills or argue with your spouse at bedtime. Try to keep your emotions on an even keel during the evening hours. If you are tired yet cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, just get up. Try doing something monotonous, such as reading a book or listening to soft repetitious music.
Try to live your life by the tenets of the Serenity Prayer, even if you are a non-believer. The concept helps immensely.
The Serenity Prayer
Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I cannot change. The Courage to change that which I can. And the Wisdom to know the difference.