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Solutions for sleeplessness

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. You know better, but after tossing and turning for hours, you give up and look at the clock. It’s 2.14 am. Panic ensues. “How
30 May 2009 12:00

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. You know better, but after tossing and turning for hours, you give up and look at the clock. It’s 2.14 am.
Panic ensues. “How will I function on four hours of sleep?” you wonder. “What if I only get three hours?”
Sleep, they say, is for the weak, something we can do when we’re dead. But few things will wreck your life faster than the side effects of sleep deprivation, which include foggy-headedness, irritability, depression and problems with memory, judgment, focus and co-ordination.
A lack of shut-eye also can make you fatter and increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure and hyperactivity. And did we mention it’s a form of torture that leads to psychosis?
“It’s time to think about sleep much like we think of nutrition and exercise,” says Phyllis Zee, a neurologist and director of the Sleep Disorders Centre at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s important for our overall health.”
Although we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, many of us don’t do it very well. Experts say about one in five adults fails to get the necessary seven to eight hours a night.
The trick to catching this elusive bedfellow is learning how to let it come to us. Here are seven situations that often lead to sleepless nights – and seven solutions for luring the sandman back to your side.

Problem: You can’t fall asleep.
Solution: Don’t stay in bed. It turns your sanctuary into a torture chamber and actually decreases your sleep drive, says Zee. Instead, practise good “sleep hygiene” by reducing your caffeine intake, exercising (but not too close to bedtime) and avoiding stimulating activities, such as TV and computer use.
Resist the urge to knock yourself out with wine, because alcohol prevents deep sleep. If anxiety is keeping you up, keep the lights dim, get out of bed and listen to music, talk radio or an audio book with your eyes closed. Go back to bed when you feel drowsy.

Problem: You wake up in the middle of the night.
Solution: Don’t turn on the light. This “tells the brain it’s morning and it stops producing melatonin,” says sleep expert Michael Breus. Don’t go to the bathroom simply because you’re awake. Instead, he says, distract your monkey mind by counting backward from 300 by 3s – that requires more calculation than counting sheep. If you wake up within an hour of the time you’re supposed to get up, then just get up, says Breus. “If you stay in bed longer than 30 or 40 minutes, your body could push you back into a deep sleep,” he says.

Problem: Your bladder wakes you up.
Solution: Don’t drink liquids after 8.30pm. If you’re worried you might be thirsty in the middle of the night, put a small cup of water near your bed so you don’t have to get up. You probably won’t need it, says Breus, the author of Beauty Sleep. If you’re male and feel pressure on your bladder, have your prostate checked.

Problem: You’re taking medication.
Solution: Don’t be shy about talking to your doctor about your medications. About 1000 drugs (including antidepressants, cough and cold remedies, and statins) can make you feel wired, says Suzy Cohen, author of Drug Muggers. Try taking antidepressants in the morning (unless they have a sedative effect). If insomnia persists, ask your doctor for a lower dosage. Getting more sleep can help with depression.

Problem: You have Sunday night insomnia.
Solution: Anxiety plays a huge role for many, but another problem is staying up too late on Friday and Saturday. “Then the body wants to stay up later on Sunday too,” says Breus. “If you stay within 45 minutes to an hour of your normal bedtime it should diminish,” he says.

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