Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Living with Insomnia

Do you lie awake at night counting sheep? You are not alone. It has been estimated that 60 million Americans suffer from persistent insomnia.
This can eventually lead to serious health problems. Researchers have linked inadequate sleep with higher risks for developing Type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiac dysrhythmias, heart attack, and stroke. One study showed that people who regularly get less than five hours of sleep have a 45% higher risk of having a heart attack.
Worry and anxiety seem to be the most common culprits.
Natural herbal remedies that can calm the nerves include chamomile, valerian, hops, skullcap, passion flower, and kava kava.
Taking a warm bath or hot shower before bed relaxes and soothes a tired body and active mind.
Quiet music, soft lights, and a peaceful environment help to set the right mood for sleep. (They also set the right mood for good old-fashioned sex, which  may just solve your sleep problem.)
Burn some essential oil of lavender in an oil burner or sprinkle some on your pillow. The essence of lavender has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety and tension.
Avoid drinking caffeine after lunch or taking an afternoon siesta.
Find someone with a sympathetic ear and talk about your fears and anxieties. Just the act of expressing yourself releases pent up tension.
Protein foods containing calcium or the amino acid tryptophan have a calming effect and make a great bedtime snack. Try warm milk, cheese, and turkey.
Practicing meditation or asking your partner for a back and shoulder massage can relax the mind and body enough to produce drowsiness. If this does not work, try repeating a favorite prayer, phrase, or poem over and over again until you fall asleep.
Listening to a guided imagery CD or visualizing your fantasy vacation can help overcome troubling thoughts which keep you awake.
If you continue to have problems, consult a physician or professional therapist.
Dawn Pisturino
Published April 10, 2007 in The Kingman Daily Miner.
Copyright 2013 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.