10 reasons for not getting sleep
Wake up and fix your sleeplessness!
By Ravi V. Chhabra
"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book" - Irish Proverb
Feeling drowsy, groggy and irritable day after day? No matter what your sex, age, blood group, colour or religion - improper sleep is bound to show up not just on your face but on your complete health. Sleep patterns may vary according to age, place of dwelling and on the kind of profession you are in but what remains common are the symptoms and risks to health. Most people don’t even know when it’s time for them to take stock of and mend their sleeping problems.
One has often heard people saying, “I think I badly need to catch up on sleep” or even say “If I don’t go to sleep, I will fall on the floor.” These are not just as quite simplistic expressions in frustration just as they may seem. The human body clock has been preset for 6-hrs to 8-hrs of uninterrupted sleep a day. And, if we don’t heed the signals we receive in many forms then there can be big trouble.
It’s a common sight to see people snoozing in metro rails, on platforms, in buses, in cars and on the benches in the parks. This does imply the problem called sleepiness or want of enough sleep. The tell-signs of not getting enough sleep are plenty. These may vary from an irritable mood, short-temper, drowsiness, lack of concentration, breathlessness, fatigue and body-ache. If any of these affect you it is time you took it seriously.
It’s important to know what hinders your sound sleep. Is a good night's sleep the first thing you sacrifice when life gets too full and busy? “Sleep deprivation is a serious medical risk, but few people are aware of that. You have to pay as much attention to your sleep as you do to eating a nutritious diet,” according to Dr. Joyce Walsleben, an associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.
A few reasons for not getting sleep could be that you have had intoxicants like alcohol before sleeping or smoked a cigarette. If you’ve been pondering too much over a dodgy, pending work project or thinking about a tiff with your colleague or best friend when you're trying to fall asleep it could be a hindrance. No arguments with spouse or close family members before going to bed can surely get you better sleep! Also when fidgety, it may be a good idea to get up and go to another part of the house, the anxious thoughts will usually stop instantaneously and then you can go back to bed and fall asleep. For many, shutting their thoughts and meditating or reciting prayers just before sleeping work effectively.
Remember, having late nights can be fun but they do take a severe toll the following morning and as is natural, when followed by extra bed time in the day, they throw off your internal clock, which is controlled by a bundle of nerve cells in the brain that also regulate appetite and body temperature. So, even if you've been up late, don't sleep in more than an hour longer than usual. To make up for lost slumber, take an afternoon catnap (not over 30 minutes, though, as an extended daytime snooze can keep you awake at night).
Hunger pangs tend to wake you up and it is common that people trying to lose weight may wake up frequently, so saving some calories for a high-protein bedtime snack, such as a small serving of cheese or a glass of milk may be a good idea as protein produces greater satiety than carbohydrates and fat. However, it is equally important to remember that over-eating or going to bed immediately after eating meals is a terrible idea and can hamper sleep.
Talk about aliens in your bed? The fact is that you could be sharing your bed with lakhs of dust mites without ever realizing it. The residue these mites leave behind can trigger mild to very severe allergies. Increasing the airflow in the room is one of the most effective ways to curb the growth of dust mites, says a recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, so make sure your bed is clean, bed-linen is regularly dry-cleaned and beds are timely sprayed with anti-mite. Some prefer an odor of their choice before sleeping, so use the natural incense, fresh flowers or spray room freshener to feel good with the aroma of your choice. Personal hygiene, of course, is a must. Some people get better sleep after a warm bath at night.
A tidy bed is a cosy bed. Remember to sort out all the clutter of papers and books on the bed or on the side-tables as this may mean unnecessary bother and lead to disturbance. Keep the laptop and other palm-sized devices away or in a cabinet that can be closed. By keeping away these light-emanating and radiation emitting devices you can be assured of no distraction. While for some people, any sound (television, blaring music by neighbors or traffic) keeps them up at night. For some pin-drop silence can be un-nerving, so put on the fan or play soft music and that may help you feel comfortable before sleeping.
Erratic levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body before, during or throughout peri-menopause can disrupt sleep due to hormonal changes. Thus, women may encounter problems like waking up during the night, long before the start of hot flashes and hormone therapy may be the solution.
Medically, of course, sleep disorder or somnipathy afflicts many people. It is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental and emotional functioning. Polysomnography is a test commonly ordered for some sleep disorders. When a person suffers from difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep with no obvious cause, it is referred to as insomnia.
While dyssomnia refers to a group of sleep disorders with the symptoms of trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep, which may cause an elevated sense of sleepiness during the day. Insomnia is characterized by an extended period of symptoms including trouble with retaining sleep, fatigue, decreased attentiveness, and dysphoria. Individuals with insomnia often worry about the negative health consequences, which can lead to the development of anxiety and depression. In addition, sleep disorders may also cause sufferers to sleep excessively, a condition known as hypersomnia. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.
Be watchful of the medication you take as over-medication can spell trouble in sleep regimen. Also relying on sleeping pills for a sound sleep can throw your sleep patterns out of gear, so do not take sleeping pills for more than the period they have been prescribed for. Keep in touch with the doctor to describe sleep patterns.
Last but not the least is ‘sleep apnea’ - a blockage in the nasal-passage while sleeping that obstructs ample intake of air, hence the patient grapples with breathing by snoring loud. It also leads to the patient being drowsy in the day time for want of quality sleep. It can be an acute medical condition if it goes untreated and some patients eventually develop erratic heartbeat if this goes untreated. So what should you be doing? Well…seek an appointment with a sleep clinic and meet the doctor/specialist.
Almost all hospitals have the sleep clinic - here they will put you through a sleep test and monitor your sleep pattern. This test will determine the sleep disorder. If detected with sleep apnea, you could either go for an operation to correct the apneas or start using the CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine that will ensure healthy, uninterrupted sleep. But then there are certain factors you have no control over or cure for…an occasional bad dream that wakes you up in the middle of the night for example! We all must know good sleep is a real blessing.