Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep? Samantha Wong shares some proven ways to overcome insomnia PHOTOS COURTESY OF Pexels
The most well recognised cause of insomnia is… you guessed it, stress. Both acute insomnia, which lasts a few days, and chronic insomnia, which renders you unable to get a good night ’s sleep for a month or more, are often the result of long, demanding working hours, problems at home, or worries about the state of the world.
Studies show that women are more likely to have insomnia than men. Older people, those in pain and people suf fering from depression are also particularly susceptible.
Of course, a great many medications can cause insomnia as a side effect. Cold medications are the most common culprits. Certain anti-depressants can also cause wakefulness if taken at night, and several of the anti-hypertensives (used to treat high blood pressure) can also result in poor quality of sleep.
To combat the problem, step one is to regulate your lifestyle. Our circadian rhythms vary throughout the day, causing us to feel sleepy at certain times and awake at others. Irregular habits disrupt that, so try to regulate what time you go to bed and what time you get up.
Take a look too at what you eat and drink and when. Avoid eating too late at night because this will mean your body is active (busy digesting) right when you want to rest. And take care with alcohol. Although it will make you feel sleepy initially, it can lead to poor sleep quality and tiredness in the morning. Of course, caffeine can keep you up at night, so have your last cuppa at 6pm or even earlier if you are sensitive to it. Substitute with natural teas – try camomile which is commonly regarded as a mild tranquiliser or sleep inducer. Be sure to drink a glass of water right before bed, and keep a jug of fresh water on your nightstand.
Interestingly, the old wives’ tale about warm milk making you feel sleepy holds true. Milk contains tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter which can help with sleep.
Insomniacs should also take a good look at what they eat. Reduce your meat intake, eat more vegetables and clear sugar from your diet. Sugar makes adults hyper – not just kids – so sleeplessness is another good reason to cut it out. Be sure to avoid sugarladen processed foods and fizzy drinks. Carbohydrates like rice and cereal will aid sleep, but if you’re after a healthy night-time snack, try cherries. They contain melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.