I've written extensively about insomnia, but since so many of us have a bout of insomnia at some point during our lives, it continues to feature prominently in topics that I track. If the insomnia is short-lived, it's considered a part of life and we usually know that stress, anxiety, worries, some life transition, a sudden change in our lives is the cause. But when you continue to have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep, then you have true insomnia - and it is one of the most common medical complaints.
There are diagnostic examinations that should take place if you have serious unrelenting insomnia, since we know it can significantly impact your health and put you at risk for a number of serious diseases. That being said, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure quality sleep. To review them quickly:
- Stick to a sleep schedule
- Get out of bed when you are not sleeping for 15 or 20 minutes and then try again
- Avoid "trying to sleep" - read or play soft music to help encourage drowsiness
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only
- Make the room comfortable - adjust the temperature, use low lights, scented candles
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, eating close to bedtime
- Treat pain since it can interfere with sleep
One last recommendation is "to hide the bedroom clocks." I actually came across a new product called the SleepTracker which may help people who travel a lot, especially across time zones, and people who suffer with morning awakening. The device looks like a watch, and comes with software that you download to your computer. The watch senses your movements during the night and based on quite a bit of information that you log in to the software program, coupled with those movements being sensed by the SleepTracker, it charts your sleep cycles over time. Once it monitors about a week's worth of cycles, it finds your "almost awake moments" that occur as you move towards morning wakefulness. That time period correlates with almost disappearing Delta sleep phases (the very deep stages) and lengthening REM stages. Once you set the alarm on the SleepTracker for the hour that you need to wake in the morning, the device will find your almost awake moments and begin to gently sound a soft alarm, which will re-sound as you get closer to your wake up time.
Obviously, the movements you make during sleep may not always correlate to your REM cycles, so this is not a fool proof system. And you can end up going to bed very late and be in really deep sleep as you near your set wake up call. But many people have found that if they are able to establish good sleep habits, the warning alarms help them to wake up refreshed. A one time jar of a loud alarm can be extremely disruptive and disconcerting if you are still in a deep sleep. So those gentle and increasing early sounds can indeed be quite helpful in establishing a daily wake up routine. And that can help you establish a health sleep routine. For more information log onto www.sleeptracker.com.
Published On: March 13, 2009