Can’t sleep at night? Know the reasons and how to deal

Counting sheep used to be an oft-repeated phrase for people who have trouble sleeping. Nowadays, it takes a whole lot more for most people to hit the snooze button. Whether you’re dealing with work-related stress, a domestic tiff, hormonal changes, insomnia or any of its triggers, you can have the upper hand and overcome the thieves of sleep and energy.

A common sleep disorder, insomnia can quash most people’s desire to rise & shine. An insomniac more often than not feels irritable, anxious, or unable to pay close attention to tasks and activities during the day. That’s mainly because energy’s depleted. Lack of sleep zaps energy and diminishes the body’s disease-fighting ability. That’s what countless people put up with.

Some people can doze through a hurricane, and there are those who just aren’t able to nod off to sleep until it’s way past the ideal time to hit the sack.  If you’re among those who can’t sleep at night, put on your thinking cap to assess what needs fixing in your usual bedtime routine, or better yet, ditch unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Stressed out teens, or young adults who love booze and partying until late evening, or spend endless hours from late evening until the wee hours of the morning navigating social networking sites, often miss out on sleep. Unhealthy eating can aggravate the sleep-related problems they have. Nightmares may also interrupt sleep.

Being aware of what’s causing your sleepless nights – be it noise, fear, a bout of depression, anger, a stimulant medication, or caffeine – can be the first important step to nipping the problem in the bud. If simple measures, like drinking warm milk or chamomile tea just don’t let you drift into peaceful slumber, there may be other reasons disrupting your sleep.

Insomnia may be caused by any of a number of things – from worrying over a trivial matter, to prolonged medication, an internal imbalance, to experiencing a major life change, and so on. Insomnia may be your body’s way of signaling that you’re afflicted with a certain medical condition, or simply that you lack exercise.

Before sleep deprivation takes its toll on your health, get a grip on what may be ailing you or causing you to lose zzzs. Seeing a sleep specialist and/or healthcare professional may be a huge help. One of the usual reasons why peaceful, restful sleep eludes most people is nutritional deficiency.  The relationship between sleep and diet should not be overlooked. A person who can’t sleep at night may possibly be low in tryptophan and/or magnesium.  Load up on whole grains, leafy green veggies, nuts, and seeds that are high in magnesium.

Eating foods high in tryptophan, like brown rice, turkey, cottage cheese, tofu, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds, can trigger the neurotransmitters that aid in the brain’s sleep cycle.

Subsisting on foods devoid of vitamins and minerals will make your body go haywire and affect your sleep, among other negative effects. Loading up on leafy green veggies and fresh fruits like pomegranates, bananas, pineapples, oranges, and berries will improve your sleep and overall health. Indeed, eating healthy foods is one of the best all-natural ways to fall asleep.

If you often can’t sleep at night and you don’t eat well, chances are your body’s struggling to go through the biochemical reactions that induce sleep (and let a person stay asleep). A healthy diet and regular exercise (which also eases stress) or a mind-calming activity like yoga, may help a person overcome insomnia.

It’s also important not to be thrown off your natural sleep pattern or cycle. Note that if you travel and encounter jet lag, or if you’ve just had a baby and nursing the child, the sudden change in sleep-wake schedule may confuse your body’s natural rhythm. Following a consistent pattern of sleeping and waking up at a certain time will help a person get back on track.

External factors may also be contributing to your difficulty in falling asleep, so take a closer look at your sleep environment and set the stage for sleep. Some people just need to fix up or add something to their bedroom that’ll make the ambiance conducive for sleep. Muted colors may contribute to a room’s soft, relaxing feel.

Eliminating clutter and making your private sanctuary serene by opting for soft, relaxing music and dim lighting may aid in letting you sleep. Feeling refreshed (taking a warm bath may help), and not stuffing yourself (a light post-dinner snack will do) before bedtime may aid in letting you fall asleep.

Extreme temperature like long summer nights or chilly weather, may encumber quality sleep. Adjusting air-conditioning and heating systems may be helpful in ensuring long, restful sleep. There’s also a mattress that not only helps keep the spine perfectly aligned, but reacts to the sleeper’s body heat, thereby forming a supportive, comfortable cushion around the person’s body. Avoiding take-home work and prolonged TV watching, or using the bedroom only for sleep and relaxation is advisable.

Besides the physical conditions, a person’s psychological state may be what’s causing trouble sleeping. Lots of anxious, sleep-deprived people take prescription medication, but these may have bothersome side effects. Others eventually opt for all-natural ways to fall asleep once they’ve overcome the blahs.

Sleep problems may be alleviated by the therapeutic properties of herbs. A naturopathic doctor can offer good advice on suitable herbs that soothe, calm, and pave the way for restful sleep.

Sleep-inducing herbs which come in the form of teas or capsules are hops and Kava Kava (suited for those experiencing anxiety attacks). Before using herbal sleep aids, though, consult a doctor and know the right dosage. You can avoid the negative effects by using extra caution. If stress is the main culprit that’s making you miss out on adequate sleep, opt for a gentle natural remedy like Passion flower.

Age may also be a contributing factor to difficulty in sleeping at night. One of the remedies prescribed by a doctor is melatonin. It is a hormone that older people tend to have less of as they age.

Sleep is a very important thing. Knowing which the safest remedies to use are can prevent sleep deprivation and contribute to quality of life and longevity.

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