Many adults find they occasionally have problems sleeping. Several things can cause sleeplessness, such as hormonal changes, irregular work schedules, stress, and medications are just a few. Loss of rest from stress and/or anxiety is reported by almost half of all Americans.
How much rest does an adult need? The average adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep a night. However, 100 years ago, people slept 20 percent longer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.” A recent survey completed by the CDC indicated that adults over 20 years old reported having difficulties concentrating, remembering, working, relaxing, as well as driving or using public transportation. In lieu of these situations, not having adequate rest can have an impact on a person’s ability to complete the required tasks in order to perform their responsibilities at work and in their personal lives.
In order to promote good sleep hygiene, a person should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and large meals prior to going to bed. Do not read or watch television in bed. Turn off all electronics in the bedroom. Do not use your bed for anything other than rest and sexual activities.
When should you become concerned that your lack of sleep is actually insomnia?
Several factors indicate insomnia might be a problem. The DSM-5 lists the following examples:
• Difficulty falling asleep
• Inability to stay asleep
• Waking too early in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep
• If your sleeplessness is affecting your ability to function at work, school, and in social situations, etc.
These difficulties occur when there are no environmental or biological reasons preventing rest, at least, three nights a week and is an issue for a minimum of three months.
Those who are at risk of having insomnia are women, those over the age of 60, or those who suffer a mental illness. Depression causes insomnia in 90 percent of people. Heredity can also affect disturbances in rest. Environmental situations, such as working nights, changing shifts at work, or traveling long distances, increase the chances of suffering from insomnia.
Statics indicate adults with insomnia can become overweight or obese by 27 percent. However, sleep apnea can also be a contributing factor. This is discovered from an overnight, in-depth study in a facility.
There are medications that aid in restfulness, such as over-the-counter (OTC) medications, herbal supplements, certain foods or prescriptions. Addiction and/or undesirable side effects can occur with prescription use. Examples of these are Nytol, Sleep-eze, and Unisom. Herbal supplements include melatonin, valerian root, and chamomile. Prescription medications are listed by type. They include benzodiazepine hypnotics, non-benzodiazepines, or antidepressants. Antihistamines can also be used, OTC or by prescription. It is important to talk with a doctor about any sleep aids before using them.
A doctor will most likely do some blood work as there are other factors that can cause or look like sleeplessness or insomnia. Magnesium, potassium, and iron levels in the body are important for good sleep.
Eating a banana before going to bed. They contain magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan, which help to relax muscles. Relaxed muscles can be the difference between a good night’s rest and sleeplessness.
By Cathy Milne
Better Sleep Better Life
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Image Courtesy of Bruce Fingerhood’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License