A natural shock-absorber of the many hassles of life, sleep is one of our very basic requirements for relaxation. Lack of sleep, or sleeplessness, is a distress signal and an invitation to physical and mental affections. The quality of sleep, though variable with individual needs, is probably based on body requirements and age.
But, we all need a good dose of sleep - in tune with our individual needs.
A sleepless person [insomniac, in medical terminology] is a person who suffers from sleeplessness. S/he may fall into any one of the three categories of sleeplessness:
- When s/he takes more than half-an-hour to fall asleep
- When the sleep is disturbed
- When s/he wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and does not feel refreshed.
The last mentioned is the most important, nay worrisome, component of the lot.
Problems of sleep loss
Sleep loss has shown that there may be a temporary letdown in performing tasks, both simple and complex. Severe loss is also evidenced to lead to behavioural problems.
Today, sleep difficulties and also excessive daytime sleepiness are considered public health problems. Not only that. Sleep problems have been associated with decreased physical and mental activity, drowsiness during daytime, and an increased risk of accidents.
Research shows that, relative to normal persons, insomniacs have more problems with short-term memory and greater loss of cognitive [thinking] and motor [physical] performance.
If your sleeplessness does not respond to simple measures, you would need to think aloud. The best thing to do is to quickly explore options with your therapist. Better still - with a doctor who specialises in sleep medicine, a branch of learning related to sleep issues.
- Maintain regular sleep and wake-up time
- Avoid excessive time in bed
- Avoid naps, except when working in shifts
- Use the bed only for sleeping and sex. Not for reading, or watching TV
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol
- Exercise regularly early in the day
- Do something relaxing before bed-time. Example: meditation, or listening to soft, soulful music.
- Try also to eat a light snack before bed-time [if hungry].
Other things to Do
- Go to bed only when sleepy
- If unable to fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, move to another room
- Return to bed only when sleepy
- Stick to a regular awakening time even during weekends
- Avoid napping.
In addition, try not to look at the clock. Try also to eat a light snack before bed-time [if hungry].
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