Insomnia Strikes again!
Why am I up?
Do these late night/early morning social network post look familiar to you? Would it shock you to hear that 1500 deaths occur yearly due to drowsiness and it’s not always as a result of alcohol intoxication? According to NIH National Center on Sleep Disorder Research, 6 to 12% of the adult population struggle with insomnia (inability to sleep). If you are in the number, I totally feel your frustration. I’ve been there and done that. As, an overnight worker for the past seven years that had to adjust to sleep disturbances, I’ve tried and tested a number of lifestyle modifications that I professionally recommend to patients. Insomnia is a top complaint in the pharmacy and most customers desire an OTC recommendation from me. I’m happy to consult, but I always discuss some of the following first to see if we can detect some preventative efforts on the patient’s part.
#15 Lifestyle Changes to Improve your Sleep Hygiene
- Try to eliminate stress factors & implement relaxing activities or if that isn’t an option implement some talk therapy. If you don’t have a relaxing companion in your household, keep a list of positive Patty types that you can call up to relax your mind before going to sleep. Euphoria is intoxicating, this works!!!
- Keep a routine sleep pattern. Go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time everyday including the weekend.
- ONLY use the bedroom for sleep and intimacy, NOT reading, watching TV, checking email, to do list etc.
- Make your bedroom sleep friendly. Set the thermostat to your comfort zone, invest in a comfortable mattress, and eliminate noises (ticking clocks, T.V.s, etc.).
- If you like falling asleep with the TV on, set the alarm for the TV to go off after a set amount of time.
- If you and your spouse have different TV sleep preferences, try earplugs & eye masks so that you can cohabitate successfully. That goes for the snoring spouse as well!
- Don’t take naps throughout the day. If you do choose to nap, take either a 30-minute power nap or 3-hour nap otherwise you will awaken from your nap feeling restless just like the people I’m writing this for.
- ROUTINE EXERCISE;) Of course, this improves your sleep patterns, get to it! Make sure it’s not too late in the evening. A good guide would be to finish up at least 3 to 5 hours before bedtime.
- Eliminate Substance Abuse
- Alcohol and nicotine should be avoided in the later part of the evening. Alcohol makes several people drowsy but it actually can have rebound effect and cause you to awaken very early in the morning.
- Caffeine that we all love to hate can stay in your system for up to 14 hours, so lunchtime at best should be your last sip on the tea or coffee or in my case Dr. Pepper!
- Spend time outside during the day being exposed to light.
- Refrain from drinking fluids the last hour before bedtime to prevent bathroom breaks throughout the night.
- Shower and brush your teeth every night before going to bed. You will be more comfortable and relaxed and your partner will appreciate it;)
- Don’t go to sleep hungry or full. Eat a light snack if it’s close to bedtime and you are still a little hungry. Make sure you don’t eat foods that have proven to give you nightmares or indigestion. Keep a bottle of water on the nightstand, if you wake up thirsty, you don’t have to walk all the way to the kitchen which will cause you to have a harder time falling back to sleep.
- If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up, leave the bedroom and do something and try again. I have a plan B resting area. Sometimes it just requires a change of location.
- Pillows! A pillow between the legs can assist your comfort in falling asleep. There is a very interesting pillow companion on the market in the shape of an L that you can give a try.
- If you have a newborn baby, HANG IN THERE:), this is only a season! Most definitely try to sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Jet Lag can cause temporary insomnia. Try to plan vacations and business departures and returns to allow for the appropriate adjustments back to your regular schedule.
BONUS TIPS for my Fellow Swing/overnight Shift Workers
- Try to have as normal a day as possible. Schedule breakfast, lunch, dinner, & exercise as part of your regular routine
- Black out the windows in the sleeping room with special light darkening shades &/or use a sleep eye mask (if you live alone and are Type A/control freak like me, this will not work, stick to the shades on the windows)
- Set firm guidelines for spouses and children for not interrupting your designated sleep time (conversely to ease your guilt of quality time, schedule that also even if it’s just a meal or 30 minutes of “play time”)
- Try to avoid sleeping in the early morning (7:00-10:00am); your body’s natural circadian rhythm will be fighting extremely hard on this one. Research shows and I will co-sign that your body will find it easier to go to sleep and stay asleep if you operate just as if you worked a 9 to 5 traditional job.
- Set an alarm to remind you to PREPARE to go to sleep/(wind down) at the same time and stick to it. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of people working traditional hours.
Are you wondering if you suffer from insomnia?
It could take you an abnormal length of time to fall asleep, you are not getting a good 6 to 8 hours of sleep, wake up frequently throughout the night, very early in the morning, or you describe your sleep as having a rough night. The bottom line, if your daytime functioning is suffering and you feel it is associated with your sleep pattern, then you fall into the category of sleep disorders. You can utilize the above tips for healthier sleep patterns and hopefully a better quality of life. Sleep is a huge determinant on our daily efforts to lose weight, stay fit, produce efficiently on our jobs & activities, and in our households. I hope these help! If they don’t, consult your pharmacist for an OTC recommendation. For most patients, simple lifestyle modifications will enhance their sleep pattern. Some patients, however are actually experiencing insomnia for other healthcare reasons or as a result of taking another medication. Those individuals will need to discuss with their primary doctor how to take care of that issue.
Rx Fitness Lady is curious…
- Which of these lifestyle modifications do you think will be your biggest challenge to overcome?
- What other solutions/products have you found other than medications that help with insomnia?
Rx Fitness Lady
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