Medical Disclaimer: No claims are made for cures of any type within the following blog post. Check with your physician before following any regimen for insomnia or any other medical issues you may be facing.
Everyone has a night or two of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. However, when it becomes a persistent case of insomnia, it can impact your quality of life, as it takes a toll on your mood, energy, and ability to get through your day. Adequate sleep is a primary part of a healthy lifestyle, and chronic insufficient sleep can lead to compromised health. That’s exactly why it’s important to look into cures for insomnia before the condition goes on too long.
As far as most people are concerned, the sleeping cap is a historical item rather than something that’s relevant to people in need of a few hours’ worth of sleep in the modern era. In some ways, they’re correct. Most people do not need them in today’s world filled with modern conveniences such as central heating and air conditioning. That doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t at all useful today. Many retailers still sell them today.
The History of the Sleeping Cap
While it’s not exactly known when or, specifically, where the sleeping cap (often referred to as a nightcap, sleep hat, or sleep bonnet) originated, at one time, sleeping caps were worn because fires died down and homes were incredibly cold during the late hours of night or wee hours of morning. Since the thought was a large chunk of a body’s heat escapes through the head, it made perfect sense to keep the head covered in an effort to retain body heat so you can remain warm throughout the night.
The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health report, Effects of Drugs on Sleep, states that: “Chronic use or abuse of certain drugs may lead to the development of substance-related sleep disorders. Primary sleep disorders, such as apnea, periodic movement disorders, and parasomnias, may be exacerbated by various drugs.”
According to a Harvard Report on how External Factors Influence Sleep, the impact of prescription medications on sleep varies from one type to the next. For instance, beta blockers, which are commonly used to reduce blood pressure, cause decreased slow-wave sleep and in important REM sleep, while increasing sleepiness during the daytime hours. Alpha blockers, also used to reduce blood pressure and to treat some prostate conditions, also lead to decreases in REM sleep as well as boosts to daytime sleepiness. Some antidepressants, known as SSRIs, are believed to actually promote insomnia. The long-term impact of other antidepressant drugs on sleep are, as of yet, unknown.
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Insomnia can be a real dream killer, and it’s a problem that plagues far more people than you realize. According to the National Institute of Health: “A general consensus has developed from population-based studies that approximately 30% of a variety of adult samples drawn from different countries report one or more of the symptoms of insomnia: difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early, and in some cases, nonrestorative or poor quality of sleep.”
What this means is that insomnia is a condition that crosses all borders of race, religion, location, health, and wealth. It impacts people across the board and around the world.
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep each and every night. Unfortunately, for a large segment of the population that is a rare commodity. While there are some who would argue that the time spent sleeping is time you cannot enjoy some of the more entertaining aspects of life, sleep actually improves the quality of your life and may even help improve your life expectancy. If you’re having trouble sleeping, keeping a sleep diary can help you manage your sleep a little better now and in the future.
Benefits of Adequate Sleep
There are many benefits that you get from a proper amount of sleep that most people don’t really understand until after they’ve gone through a fairly significant period of sleep deprivation at least once. As you age, the side effects of a sleepless night become much more pronounced and harder to overcome. These benefits include: improved mood and temperament, a brain that’s more receptive to learning, improved immunity, better alertness, increased balance, and more energy.
Sleep, aside from food and water, is one of the most important things the body needs in order to repair itself, recover from injuries, and prepare to face the day. People who have difficulty sleeping or are unable to get an adequate amount of sleep will often find their communication ability, critical thinking, and even mobility are impaired—especially those who suffer from long-term sleep deprivation.
Are you getting enough sleep? Do you wake up feeling well-rested most mornings, or do you find yourself hitting the snooze button a few too many times once morning rolls around?
What if You’re Too Tired to Sleep?
Believe it or not, some people feel so tired and yet are unable to fall asleep. Any parent who has gone through the terrible two’s knows what it’s like to have a little one fighting sleep. The child is sleepy, it’s past nap time or bed time, and the child is struggling, fighting, wailing, and crying—anything to keep from going to sleep.
When you’re overly tired, sleep can be incredibly elusive leaving you feeling as frustrated as an overstimulated child fighting sleep. Your body is screaming for sleep, but your mind simply won’t shut off and let it happen.
The average person feels a little jagged around the edges as a result of a sleepless night or even a night when the quality of sleep was less than optimal. However, a recent study conducted by the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley has revealed that “people who are highly anxious may actually be more vulnerable” to serious anxiety issues in the aftermath of a sleepless night.
The University of California, Berkeley study scanned the brains of 18 adults (who were all in good health) on two different occasions. One was after an ordinary night’s worth of sleep and the other after a night where they were deprived of sleep. During each session, subjects were exposed to a period of prolonged anticipation of a potentially negative experience. Those who experienced sleep deprivation the night before had reactions that were significantly stronger than those who had enjoyed a more restful sleep on the previous evening. In some cases, primarily for those predisposed to anxiety, the reaction was amplified by as much as 60 percent.
Which Comes First, Anxiety or Sleep Issues?
Once upon a time it was well understood that chronic anxiety can do a real number on your ability to sleep. For a long time, it was believed that sleep problems were simply side effects of anxiety disorder. However, new research indicates that sleep deprivation can actually be the cause of an anxiety disorder. Research also indicates that patients suffering from almost any psychiatric disorder also suffer from some form of sleep disorder. People who suffer from chronic insomnia are at a much greater risk of developing some type of anxiety disorder.
It’s a busy world we live in today. Thanks to advancements in technology, we seem to be always connected. Add that to the stress of dealing with a demanding job, worrying about our children or aging parents, or concern over a health condition either for ourselves and a loved one, and there’s no surprise that some of us have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some tool that could relax our minds and let go of our stress and worries to fall into a peaceful deep sleep? Well there is, and it’s called guided imagery.
What is Guided Imagery for Sleep?
Have you ever “counted sheep” to help you to fall asleep? If so, you were practicing guided imagery without even knowing it. In a nutshell, guided imagery is a relaxation technique where one’s thoughts are purposely redirected through imagination and visualization to achieve a desired goal. While this goal is commonly to help with falling asleep, it’s also used to help adults cope with a serious health condition, such as cancer, manage stress, depression, pain, and anxiety. It’s also a helpful technique for children, particularly in helping to chase away their fears.
Benefits of Guided Imagery for Sleep
Using guided imagery for sleep disturbances can help both adults and children alike find a soothing, relaxing, and comforting way to drift off to sleep. As a directed form of visualization, guided imagery is based on the thought that the body and mind are connected. By tapping into one’s own imagination, guided imagery can relax oneself into a soothing slumber.
Those big puppy dog eyes are begging for a snuggle. It’s almost impossible to say no to your cozy little dog, all curled up next to you under the covers—almost as hard as it is to say no to your 5-year-old who’s scared in the middle of the night. And very few of us can deny a spouse who has just as much of a right to the master bed as you do. But sleeping companions can dramatically reduce the quality of your sleep in myriad ways. Each time they move, you’re disturbed. Every snuffle or snore, chortle or blanket snatch interrupts your precious sleep. If you happen to be a light sleeper or suffer from any form of insomnia, those disruptions can rob you of hours of sleep every night as you lay there staring at the ceiling, worrying about bills or work. Long-term, that can have serious implications for your health. So what do you do? How do you reclaim your bedroom sanctuary? Here are some ideas.
Insomnia is one of the most common ailments in adults. A full ten percent of the population suffers from it. Despite all of the sleeping pills on the market, that number isn’t going down. We live in an anxiety-driven, caffeine-fueled culture, and that’s just the beginning. Considering the economic situation in the United States over the past few years, people have a lot to worry about, and worrying and sleep don’t mix. For many of us, bedtime is the only time of day we really stop and think. It’s the first quiet moment we’ve had since we woke up, and our brains take full advantage. But at what price? The science is definitive: poor sleep means poor health and when you’re tired you aren’t at your best. Your job performance suffers, your relationships suffer, and your health slowly deteriorates. What’s really going on here?