As anyone who has ever suffered insomnia knows, getting up after a disturbed sleep is very much like getting up with a hangover. You feel drained, out of sorts, and probably with a headache as well.
This happens to more of us than you might think. Some recent sleep research studies indicate that as many as a third of US adults report experience disturbed sleep episodes more than one night per week. These problems with getting enough sleep can easily lead to other health problems like high blood pressure and worsening depression.
Of course there are many, many reasons why we deal with disturbed sleep. Listed here are several that might be robbing you of your good night’s rest.
- STRESS No surprise here, especially since a majority of US adults report feeling high or moderate stress within the last thirty days.
It isn’t realistic to think stress can be entirely eliminated but it is possible to learn to turn off the worry and racing thoughts when it is time for bed. Techniques such as meditation, bio-feedback, and quiet music can help.
- DEPRESSION Insomniacs have ten times the risk for depression than those who get enough sleep. On the other hand, folks who suffer from depression also struggle with insomnia. Often it difficult to tell which condition came first.
Making things worse is a commonly prescribed class of medications used to treat depression called “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” can often times exacerbate certain sleep disorders. If you are being treated for depression and are also having trouble sleeping it is important to have a conversation with your doctor about the possible side effects of that medication.
- CAFFEINE Though this might seem self evident, caffeine will remain in the bloodstream for a much longer than you might realize. And although it depends a lot on a person’s metabolism, it can take as long as 14 hours for the body to get rid of just half of the caffeine you consume. If you do the math, this means that half the caffeine you drank at 8:00AM is still with you at 10:00PM that night.
And don’t forget that tea and coffee are not the only caffeine loaded foods. Both Chocolate and soft drinks are loaded with caffeine as well.
If caffeine is a normal part of your routine, and you are having trouble sleeping, cut out everything with caffeine from your diet and see if your sleep patterns improve.
- ALCOHOL Many of us will have a drink or two to unwind after a difficult day in the belief that it will help us sleep. And, of course, it does because alcohol does induce sleep.
But alcohol negatively impacts sleep in a number of ways. It reduces REM sleep and increases non-REM sleep which is a much lighter sleep. As the body metabolizes the alcohol as the night wears on, sleep is much shallower and easily interrupted.
As with caffeine, the suggestion is to stop drinking until any sleep problems are alleviated.
Although some disturbed sleep disorders are indications of more serious conditions, the majority are simply reactions to actions we take during the day. For most of us just a few minor changes in lifestyle is all it takes to restore good sleeping habits.
But, if you have made an honest effort and are still having problems with sleep, then by all means speak with your doctor about what else might be causing your problems with disturbed sleep.