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All alone and wide awake? Here’s help!


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InsomniaAn insomniac’s defition of insomnia is probably this- it is a waking nightmare. Anna recollects, “I wondered why is it that despite being so very tired I was unable to sleep. After allowing myself to suffer for a while I decided to make a conscious effort to get good sleep. And to my great surprise that did not work either. This took me to the doorsteps of my family doctor, Dr. K.V Mohanalakshmi. According to doctor Mohanalakshmi, “one’s preoccupation with the lack of sleep often comes in the way of a good night’s sleep. Because this makes one overly apprehensive and this causes stress.”

A fact that is mirrored by Sudeep’s confession. ‘The more stressed I get about going to sleep, the less likely I was to actually do it. Finally things came to a point where just the thought of having to spend another sleepless and lonely night drove me up the wall. I had never known that  the silence and the darkness could be so lonely that it hurt.”

Medical science defines insomnia as a condition where the patient suffers from lack of  quality sleep. In fact, doctors emphasize on the word quality. As this is what largely determines how you feel after you wake up. Because, even if you are sleeping eight hours a night, if you’re still feeling drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.

Here are some general symptoms of insomnia -

  • Difficulty falling asleep despite being tired
  • Waking up fatigued and drowsy
  • Awakening frequently or lying awake in the middle of the night
  • Getting up at the crack of dawn
  • Lower levels of productivity

Insomnia like so many other diseases can easily fit into the lifestyle disease category. Life on the fast track and some activities (like watching television before bedtime) causes brain stimulation. Hence the person is unable to sleep. In the ancient times a persons daily routine allowed him to unwind and gave the system enough time to prepare for bedtime, as there was not much to do after sundown.

The kind of food one eats can also be a cause of insomnia. Heavy and oily food at dinner    time is not exactly a good idea.  So, try eating light and non-greasy food before bedtime.

If you are on sleeping pills then you must go off them under medical supervision. Because stopping them abruptly can result what is known as rebound insomnia.

Trying to indentify the causes of the lack of sleeplessness is probably the first step to tackling this problem. Find out whether is the stress caused by deadlines, long hours at work or just the fact that you need to decide who’s going to walk the dog.

Quiten the mind. Reduce stress by changing the way you handle these challenges. Remember your worrying or getting stressed is not going to make these things go away or change. But, in the bargain you will become a victim of insomnia. Remember the more relaxed you are before bed, the better your sleep will be.

Engage your mind in something insignificant like counting backwards can help you relax. The secret is to numb your brain by forcing it to perform boring and unstimulating task.

Though the last thing that most of us do before we go to bed is watch television, it is advisable to try and avoid this activity before bedtime. Do not exercise before bedtime.
A quiet and dark environment is most conducive for a good night’s sleep.

Wear loose and comfortable bedclothes.

Close your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Start at the toes and relax all the muscles in your body by alternately clenching and flexing them. Do this till you feel completely relaxed.

Besides these techniques, managing your time effectively, handling anger and stress positively and maintaining a positive outlook, can help reduce and consequently cure insomnia.

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