Happy new week! lol.
I've been wrestling with a bout of insomnia recently. I think lots of writers, whether by choice or nature, are insomniacs. Maybe we're insomniacs because we're writers; maybe we're writers because we're insomniacs. Who knows?
But it may get to a point where all you want is a good night's sleep. In that case, here's some of what I've uncovered on insomnia.
Insomnia is now defined by QUALITY of sleep, rather than quantity. So if you get 5 hours of sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and able to get through your day, then you're not an insomniac. If, on the other hand, you sleep 10 hours every night, but you toss and turn, wake up 4 or 5 times, and in the morning you feel like you've just been steam-rolled, then you are an insomniac.
Here are a few things that may contribute to your insomnia.
Medicine: Some medicines cause drowsiness, but there are a few which can stop you from sleeping. Asthma meds, BP meds, and antidepressants are known for this, but ask you doctor if insomnia is a side-effect of any of the meds you use.
Breathing: If your breathing is disrupted during sleep, it will wake you up. Disrupted breathing can be a result of sleep apnea or a myriad of sinus/nasal problems.
Stress/anxiety: Increased tension due to worrying.
Medical problems: heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, etc... can cause insomnia.
Pain: Even mild pain can cause disruptions in sleep, which can lead to sensitivity to pain. Sad little circle of life.
Light: Even small amounts of light can cause sleep disruption. In addition, the light from computer screens is particularly troublesome, because this light occurs naturally only in daylight, tricking your body into thinking it's not time to sleep.
Depression: Offsets natural biological rhythms. It starts a cycle of not sleeping at night, napping in the day, not feeling sleepy, not sleeping...
Yahoo! Health recently featured a list of foods that can help combat insomnia.
Cherries contain melatonin- a chemical the body produces to induce sleep.
Bananas contain potassium and magnesium- muscle relaxants. They also contain an amino acid converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin.
Milk contains the same amino acid.
Carb-rich foods (like toast) trigger insulin production, which induces sleep by speeding up the release of tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals that relax you and send you to sleep.
Oatmeal triggers a rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin production and the release of sleep-inducing brain chemicals. Oats are also rich in melatonin.
Exercise: Vigorous exercise combats depression, releases stress and increases serotonin levels. Also weight is a factor in many of the medical problems and breathing issues that cause insomnia.
Go dark: Switch of your laptop an hour before bed (!!!! I KNOW, RIGHT???). Use dark curtains to block light from the street. Charge your cellphone in another room and use a clock without a lighted dial. Read on an e-ink reader, rather than a backlit one.
Medication/treatment: Use medication or therapy to alleviate pain that may be causing insomnia. Ask your doctor to develop a program to help you fight your high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, etc.
Relaxation: Try a deep relaxation technique. You can look it up online, but basically, lie still, clear your mind, and concentrate on relaxing muscles one by one and breathing deeply. Also, you can try yoga.
Avoid: Alcohol causes shallow sleep.
Smoking affects the lungs and nicotine keeps the brain from resting.
Preserved meats cause the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that makes us feel alert and wired.
Chocolate contains caffeine, and tyrosine, a stimulating amino acid.
Spicy food- digestive disruptions can also cause trouble with your sleep.
Red Bull, Coffee and other stimulants... well, they stimulate.
Napping. If you sleep in the day, why would you need to sleep at night?
Establish a routine: Go to sleep at the same time and get up at the same time. Use the bed only for sleep and sex, not reading or watching tv.
Don't fight it: If you can't sleep, get up. Lying in bed when you can't sleep, increases anxiety and lessens your chances of getting to sleep. Don't watch the clock either. That also increases anxiety.
It's Monday (Well, Tuesday here- 12:36 am- sigh) and sadly, that's what's on my mind.