How are your sleep patterns? When we get better sleep we have a better life. Doctors recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Some people have trouble falling asleep; others fall asleep; but awaken very early in the morning. Some people seem to have less of the deeper sleep. If we aren’t getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours sleep, we may suffer the consequences.
When we were young, we slept, well,…like a baby. We could sleep anywhere and anytime, with no problem at all, and not a care in the world.
As we get older, many of us develop insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. There can be many causes. With aging we may be sleeping lighter or we may awaken often. We may have trouble falling asleep in the first place. We could be suffering from bladder or prostate problems that cause us to awake frequently during the night for trips to the bathroom . Sometimes medications, that we are taking, could be causing sleep disturbances. Certain physical conditions can sometimes interfere with our sleep. Taking sleep medications is risky business because of the side effects and they often don’t work. I will suggest some alternatives to taking sleeping pills below.
Simple behavioral changes can often improve the quantity and quality of our sleep.
Behavioral changes that may help insomnia:
- Avoid large meals close to bedtime
- Refrain from caffeine 6 hours before bed
- Avoid smoking close to bedtime
- Exercise 3 to 4 hours before bedtime
- Deep breathing exercises
- Go to bed at approximately the same time every night
- Refrain from naps any longer than a half an hour
- Establish a regular bedtime routine
Example of bedtime routine: bathing or washing face, etc.; brushing teeth and hair; light snack, reading, prayer or meditation, etc.
Let’s explore some things that can cause insomnia.
- Certain medications, herbs or supplements
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart failure
- Pulmonary disease
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Lack of or not enough exercise
- Natural aging changes
- Frequent urination
- Sleep disorders
What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a disorder characterised by episodes of brief awakenings because of not being able to breathe properly. These episodes result from complete or partial occlusion of the airway, which results in snoring, gasps for breath or brief periods of not being able to breathe. This can happen hundreds of times during the night. The episodes cause a drop in blood oxygen levels and disrupted sleep, when the body awakens briefly, so that we can resume breathing.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea: Symptoms of sleep apnea may include: Gasping, choking and loud snoring during sleep. The sleep apnea sufferer may experience dry throat and mouth when they awake. They may suffer from daytime drowsiness, headaches, irritability, poor concentration or memory problems and depression. Please see your physician for testing if you suspect you may have this disorder.
Causes of Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is caused when the upper airway is obstructed or collapses. Being overweight, or loss of muscle tone due to aging are the major causes. The muscle relaxation found in dream or REM sleep, may also contribute. It may occur more often when someone is sleeping on their back. Also there are times that the brain doesn’t stimulate breathing.
Sleep apnea can have major health consequences and can be life-threatening. Excessive daytime sleepiness may cause you to fall asleep while driving. People who suffer from sleep apnea may have an increased risk of: irregular heartbeat, coronary heart disease, heart failure or heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, heartburn and reflux, RLS (restless leg syndrome), PLMS, (periodic limb movement), concentration and memory problems, erectile dysfunction, stroke or TIA’s, depression or sudden death.
RLS – Restless Leg Syndrome
What is Restless Leg Syndrome? Sufferers of RLS have intense discomfort in their legs, often described as a creepy crawly sensation. They feel a need to keep moving, repositioning legs, or a desire to get up and walk around to relieve the discomfort. This often hinders their ability to fall asleep.
PLMD – Periodic Limb Movement
What is Periodic Limb Movement? People who have PLMD experience rythmic movement of legs or arms during sleep. These movements typically occur every 20 to 40 seconds. The sleeping person may not even know this is happening. Bed fellows describe the movements as kicking or thrashing of the legs or arms.
Suggested home treatments for RLS or PLMD: Soak legs in a warm bath before bed. Exercise legs regularly.
If you have insomnia, I hope the behavioral changes I have suggested will help you attain better sleep, and in turn a better life. I wish for you all to have blissful sleep and sweet dreams tonight and every night.
Thank you for reading. I love comments. You may use the comment section below to leave a comment or ask questions.
Stop by again sometime. I love company! Sweet dreams.
At your service,
Disclaimer: I am not a physician. This post is for information only. It is not meant for the purpose of diagnosing insomnia or sleep disorders. Please see your family physician if you have any symptoms mentioned and before embarking on alternative methods for dealing with insomnia.