Health Notes - Insomnia (Part 2)
Pinpointing reasons you can’t get a good night’s rest.
by Ellen S. Mullen M.D.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two part series concerning insomnia. Dr. Mullen offers tips on how to pinpoint the possible reasons you can’t get a good night’s rest.
If you awaken during the night, get up, don’t stay in bed. Go to a different room and try reading a book for about twenty minutes then try to go back to bed. If you cannot fall asleep, get up again and try the same routine. Make sure you are not drinking alcohol or eating or drinking caffeine, especially in the evening. Decongestants and tobacco are also stimulants that may contribute to insomnia. Big meals prior to bedtime can also lead to sleeplessness. Avoid taking daytime naps. Exercise can cause us to be more physically tired but it is best to exercise earlier in the day and not before bedtime.
Decreasing stress by becoming aware of situations that are bothering you is essential in curing insomnia. Make a list of all the things you are worried or concerned about and then go back through the list. As you recognize things on this list that you feel you can change, write down what you will do about them. All of the other situations that you have no control over, try to simply ignore them by crossing them off of your list.
Depression can also be associated with insomnia. Therefore it is very important to be in touch with your feelings and get help if you feel you are depressed. Insomnia can be a warning sign of deeper psychological problems.
See insomnia as a warning sign that something is not right and needs to be corrected in your life. As a last resort, over the counter sleep aids can be helpful but should not be used long term in most situations. It is wise to check with your doctor to assure that these medications are safe for you to use. If these do not help, see your doctor and he may suggest a prescription medication to help you to sleep. Again, in general, these should only be used temporarily to reset your internal sleep clock. Finding out the cause of your insomnia is the real cure.