De-Stressing Before a Snooze
If you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, and would like to begin treating it, one way is to create a relaxing routine that might help your body recognize it’s time to sleep.
For certain disorders, such as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) or Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS), relaxation might not be the answer – but for some, de-stressing before a snooze could prove to be the right medicine.
Think about what relaxes you. Is it a warm bath? Reading in a chair? A cup of steaming hot herbal tea? There are a number of self-help stress techniques to consider and finding the right one may take some time.
The investment will be well worth it, because it may mean better sleep that results in less fatigue, drowsiness, or any of the other symptoms associated with sleep deprivation. Once you discover the right technique for you, try to integrate it into your daily routine.
If it’s a cup of herbal tea, try to drink a cup about 30 minutes before you’re ready for bed. The tea should not only relax you due to its herbal properties but also because it’s now part of a routine.
If you can stick to a particular schedule, then your body will hopefully adjust to it so that when you take your nightly cup of tea, your body’s internal clock will know that it’s just about time to power down for the day.
As for the many other de-stressing techniques that might help you, consider reading a favorite book, taking a warm bath, or meditating. Meditation can help relax you, as well as provide you with a focus for your slumber.
Meditation techniques come in various forms, but the underlining aspect of the method is that it helps you channel your thoughts. Through meditation, you get an uninterrupted line of concentration that shuts out distractions that could be hindering your sleep process.
Related to meditation is self-hypnosis, which can take the form of repeating words or suggestions in your mind, over and again. This repetition may help lull you into slumber. Visualization, which is engaging in another type of mental journey without outside distraction, is another way to try to relax prior to sleep.
These de-stressing techniques can help you slow the body’s processes down, helping to create a bridge between your waking and sleeping moments. Easing into sleep can only be helpful if it works on a consistent basis. Keeping a sleep diary can help you stay on task.
When you begin your battle to defy a sleep disorder, just remember that you shouldn’t expect to fall asleep right away. If you know ahead of time that it may take a little time to find the right solution, it will lessen the frustration you feel in your quest for sleep.
A Sleep Disorder That Affects the Legs – Restless Sleep Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome, known as RLS, is a sleep disorder that afflicts more than 15 percent of adults.
It affects more women than men and the incidence of restless leg syndrome increases with age. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis and varicose veins, also increase the risk of developing restless leg syndrome.
This sleep disorder is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the lower legs, knees and occasionally the arms. Sometimes painful sensations accompany the urge to move. People that suffer from this sleep disorder describe the feelings and sensations in different ways. Many describe a tingling, itching or pulling sensation. Still, others say it feels prickly or burns. Some feel as if they have worms crawling under their skin.
The sensations which are typical of this sleep disorder can occur anytime during the day or night.
Restless leg syndrome occurring at night has a devastating effect on sleep. The symptoms can cause the sufferer to get in and out of bed repeatedly which can delay or disrupt sleep. Since sleep in repeatedly interrupted, extreme daytime sleepiness is common.
The combination of always feeling tired and the symptoms themselves can cause a person with restless leg syndrome to alter their lifestyle. Long trips, movies, concerts and eating in restaurants are some of the activities they usually avoid. Attending a long meeting at work can become very painful and uncomfortable. People that have this sleep disorder often suffer from depression.
Researchers believe that restless leg syndrome may be caused by malfunctions of the pathways in the brain that controls movement reflexes and sensations. Often this sleep disorder has a genetic base.
Restless leg syndrome cannot be diagnosed by one single test. Often standard neurological examinations show no signs of an abnormality. In many cases, a doctor makes the diagnosis of restless leg syndrome based on the description of the symptoms. They also take into account family history, and the results of a routine medical examination and blood tests.
Many times the treatment for restless leg syndrome is aimed at controlling the debilitating sensations that accompany this sleep disorder. Often iron supplements are prescribed because severe anemia has been linked to this disorder. Relaxation techniques, diet changes and the elimination of caffeine and alcohol help some sufferers of restless leg syndrome.
In most cases, this sleep disorder is treated with drugs. These drugs could include dopamine agents, benzodiazepines, opioids or anticonvulsants. Medications do not cure restless leg syndrome, but they manage the symptoms. People that suffer from this sleep disorder usually have to stay on their medications for the rest of their lives.
Another sleep disorder similar to restless leg syndrome is periodic limb movement disorder known as PLMD. There are two main differences between restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder. Restless leg syndrome occurs when the sufferer is awake or asleep; periodic limb movement disorder only occurs when the sufferer is asleep. Restless leg syndrome movements are voluntary responses to very unpleasant sensations; the movements of periodic limb movement disorder are involuntary and are not consciously controlled. Both of these sleep disorders can be effectively controlled with medical treatment.
Beating Insomnia With These 7 Tips
Insomnia can range from mild to chronic. Mild insomnia can happen if you’re feeling stressed about relationships or if you’re having problems with finances or trouble on your job. Emotional trauma can also cause a mild case of insomnia, but this type will pass.
Insomnia that’s ongoing and continues to prevent sleep needs to be evaluated. Sometimes, insomnia is brought on my taking a new medication with sleeplessness as a side effect – but insomnia can also be health-related.
Whatever type of insomnia you might have or the reason behind it, you need a good night’s sleep in order to be able to function the next day. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to poor ability to function at home or work and it’s been linked to numerous health problems.
Following these seven tips can break the cycle of sleeplessness and get you back on track so that you get a good night’s rest.
First, shut off your thoughts. We’re so busy during the day that it’s easy to push aside thoughts of things that weigh on us. But at night, when our body is still, our mind often gets busy fretting about whatever’s going on in our lives.
If anxious thoughts start, don’t entertain them. Imagine yourself shoving all the worries into a closet and barring the door. If that still doesn’t help, get out of bed and meditate. Do something that relaxes you – but don’t watch anything on television unless it’s something boring.
Second, avoid eating a heavy meal right before you go to bed. Overeating can cause you to wake up throughout the night.
Third, make sure your room is a sleep haven. Have a comfortable bed. Keep the room dark and block out any noises that might disturb you. Keep your room temperature at a level that you find comfortable to sleep in.
Fourth, do exercise – but not right before you go to sleep. Exercise can stimulate and invigorate your body – the opposite of what you want before bed.
Fifth, set your internal clock by maintaining a bedtime schedule. Go to bed at a set hour. If you do this regularly, your body will begin to crave sleep at that time.
Sixth, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed – and don’t smoke, either – because nicotine is a stimulant that will keep you awake or cause you to wake up once you’ve dozed off.
Seventh, have a warm, relaxing bath before bed. Soak in the tub and listen to relaxing music while the water massages your muscles.