Insomnia can be a miserable ailment and can exacerbate other illnesses and make chronic pain worse. Insomnia can be caused by a multitude of issues from increased stress, obesity, pain, medications, caffeine, nicotine, depression, unresolved anxiety, a change in work hours or shifts, marital and family strife or discord, sleep apnea. or even a spouse or partner who keeps you awake with their snoring.
Not getting enough proper sleep can affect us physically, mentally and emotionally. It can also contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
How much sleep you require depends on your age. Children typically need more sleep than adults and seniors often sleep fewer hours at night, but may take catnaps during the day. The key to determining how much sleep you need is to poll yourself each morning to see how rested you feel. If you are groggy and unable to feel alert until later in the morning, you very likely need more quality sleep.
Consider keeping a sleep diary, much as you would a diet diary if you are in the process of losing weight. Head on over to the dollar store and purchase a composition notebook or a small notepad and place it on the table by your bed. By daily recording what time you go to bed, how long it takes for you to fall asleep, how many times you awaken during the night and the duration of these wakeful periods you will be more able to determine how much sleep you are actually getting. Be sure to note in your diary each morning how rested, or not rested you feel. This will be helpful information for your physician.
Additionally, it will be helpful for you to note in your sleep diary if you are worried about something when you find that you can’t sleep. By tracking what you are worried about you can determine what treatment may be appropriate for you. People who go to bed worrying about the events of the day or what they anticipate to be unresolved issues they will have to face tomorrow, suffer from early morning awakening (usually around 2 or 3 AM). The treatment here requires understanding your internal dialogue and correcting it.
By developing a regular bedtime routine, you may find yourself well on the way to curing what ails you. It is important to establish routine whereby you go to bed at the same time each evening and awaken at the same time each morning. And yes, this goes for weekends and days off as well. Sorry about that!
Taking a hot or warm bath before bedtime and drinking a warm decaffeinated drink may also be helpful. As your body cools, it automatically becomes sleepy. Getting plenty of exercise also helps sleeping habits because it removes clutter and stress from the mind.
If you have a television in your bedroom, turn it off or remove it altogether. Your bedroom should be a place for sleep and your mind needs to recognize that when you enter your bedroom that you are preparing for sleep.
I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.
Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis