Do you lie in bed staring at the alarm clock for hours on end? Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep when desired – is a common disorder that affects nearly half of the adult population (48%). Both men and women, young and old, can experience this disorder. If you find it difficult to fall asleep, keep reading to learn more about insomnia and how to treat it.
Insomnia is unique in the sense that it’s both a medical condition and side effect. Certain types of medications, such as antihistamines and nasal decongestants, may trigger insomnia. Consuming large amounts of the stimulant caffeine can also increase a person’s risk of developing insomnia.
The Importance of a Good Night’s Rest
Thanks to modern-day science, we now realize just how important sleep truly is for the body’s health and well-being. Sleep plays a critical role in a number of different bodily functions, one of which learning and memory. People who don’t get enough sleep often have trouble concentrating on tasks the following day, which subsequently places them at a greater risk of injury.
Sleep also plays a role in cardiovascular health. Several studies have linked insomnia to higher rates of hypertension, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and increases levels of stress hormones Other functions that are directly impacted by sleep include metabolism, weight, mood, and immune function.
Top Sleep-Related Difficulties Among Adults:
- Concentrating on Things – 23.2%
- Remembering Things – 18.2%
- Working on Hobbies – 13.3%
- Driving or Taking Public Transportation – 11.3%
- Taking Care of Financial Affairs – 10.5%
- Performing Employes or Volunteer Work – 8.6%
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
This is a question that medical experts continue to debate. It was previously thought 8-9 hours of nightly sleep was the ideal amount for adults, but new evidence suggests a shorter session may prove more beneficial.
The national Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) now recommend 7-8 hours of sleep for adults (including the elderly), 9-10 hours for teens, 11-12 hours for young children in preschool, and 16-18 hours for newborns.
Warding Off Insomnia
There are both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical solutions treatment options for insomnia. While many prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids are effective, they only mask the problem for a short period of time. Most people who use them develop a dependency in which they must continue to increase their dose to fall asleep.
Rather than popping a pill to fall asleep, try the following tips listed below:
- Eliminate all sources of caffeine from your diet.
- Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise daily.
- Cut back on sugars, saturated fats and sodium.
- Talk with your doctor about the benefits of taking a melatonin and/or 5-HTP supplement.
- Turn off the television and all electronic devices when you are getting ready for bed.