Insomnia: Problem and Recommendations

Insomnia affects one of ten Americans and about thirty percent of healthy seniors.  Characteristically, the problem is generally manifested when the person first goes to bed or wakes up during the night, but has trouble going back to sleep.  In some cases, the inability to sleep can be temporary.

Generally, chronic insomnia can be attributed to a serious, underlying medical disorder, such as depression, psychological disorders in the nature of anxiety, stress or grief, or physical causes, such as arthritis, asthma, breathing problems, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, indigestion, kidney or heart disease, muscle aches, Parkinson’s disease, or any other kind of pain. The inability to get a good night’s sleep can also be attributed to caffeine consumption, jet lag, or the intake of certain drugs, such as antidepressants, suppressants, allergy, lack of nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, poor nutrition habits and eating close to bedtime.  Sleep disorders can also be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle. There are people that get adapted to short-term sleep deprivation; however, that can change when their inability to sleep begins to persist.

There are two kinds of normal sleep, namely, designated rapid-eye- movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement (non-REM). The former is generally associated with dreaming.

The rules as to how much sleep is enough do not seem to be conclusive, since people’s needs are different. For some, a mere 5 hours of sleep can be sufficient, while others can function better with eight, nine or more hours of sleep. The general requirement suggested is 8 hours for adults, while young children and adolescents function better with longer hours. Studies have shown that, as people get older, it is not uncommon for them to sleep less, particularly after the age of sixty-five.

There are those that have the tendency to doze off at odd hours of the day, such as at the dinner table, or while driving, or watching television.  This may be a signal that there may be something amiss with their body’s internal clock.

There are people that experience trouble sleeping due to a problem, commonly known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).  Doctors cannot accurately ascertain the reason for such a syndrome.  Those with this problem may experience leg jerks and twitches while in bed, and there are those that experience painful cramps while in bed.  Another problem is sleep apnea, considered to be a serious sleep disorder. It is generally associated with snoring or a breathing irregularity.


l) Do not eat within two hours of bedtime.

2) Abstain from caffeine, alcohol and nicotine at least six hours before bedtime.

3) Avoid taking nasal decongestants and cold medicine in the late evening before bedtime.

4) Go to bed only when you are sleepy.

5) Exercise regularly in the late afternoon or early evening, but not directly before bedtime.

6) Take a hot bath an hour before bedtime.

7) Try not to worry when it is time to go to bed.

8) Sleep on your side to prevent your snoring.


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