Saturday, July 04, 2009

More on sleep

Sleeping is a serious problem for millions of people around the world
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The National Sleep Foundation in the US, which you should know receives financial support from pharmaceutical companies, estimates that 20 percent of Americans, up from 13 percent eight years ago, sleep fewer than six hours a night

In Europe and other places we can imagine that the numbers are fairly similar


In most countries the lucky few who sleep a full eight hours or more has dropped from 38 percent to 28 percent, which means that most of us are not sleeping as we would like
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Being chronically sleep-deprived is more than just tiring it effects our life in many ways
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It can lead to depression, high blood pressure, lower productivity, lower sex drive and of course less enthusiasm for many other things in life
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You have probably heard these sleep do's and don’ts before, but they are worth repeating.
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If you have been tossing and turning, do not drink caffeine after the late afternoon
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Avoid more than a glass or two of wine or the equivalent amount of other alcohol in the evening
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Save stressful activities, like arguments with your partner or a review of your finances, for early in the day
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Get into bed a half-hour before you plan to turn out the lights, and read a calming book.
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No TV, BlackBerry or electronic diversion of any kind an hour or so before bed, because they tend to be stimulating, not relaxing
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Exercise regularly, and reduce the overall level of stress in your life, easy to say however difficult to put into practice but necessary for your chances of being more relaxed and therefore able to go to sleep more easily
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The herb Valerian taken as a tea in the early evening can be helpful in relaxing you and is cumulative over time when taken regularly
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Good quality mattresses are an intelligent investment considering how long we all spend in our beds, one third of our lives no less!
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Over-the-counter medications that contain sleep-inducing antihistamines are fine for a night or two, but that is all, and better avoided where possible
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They typically do not work over the long term, and they bring unpleasant side effects like dry mouth and grogginess, let alone other unknown side effects on our state of mind
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If you still cannot sleep, see a doctor. who should first try to rule out any underlying medical condition that would require treatment by a different type of specialist.
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If you have primary insomnia, a medical condition in its own right, your doctor will probably begin treating you right away. And what might he do?
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Your doctor may prescribe a so-called hypnotic drug to help you sleep through the night such as zolpidem, the generic version of Ambien
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But if your problem is waking too early, he might suggest a longer-duration drug like temazepam,
the generic version of Restoril.
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But if you do not fancy taking drugs with their hidden side effects then maybe try cognitive behavioral therapy, or C.B.T which is quite fashionable in some quarters today
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C.B.T. for insomnia is meant to help patients change the behaviors and thoughts that get in the way of a good night’s sleep.
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The cognitive part of the process teaches you to change anxiety-producing thoughts that interfere with your ability to sleep,
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You might lie awake worrying, I have to get eight hours of sleep or I will be a wreck tomorrow.
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Most people, however, can function quite well on seven or less hours sleep
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The behavioral part of C.B.T aims at actions that impair your ability to sleep, like spending too much time in bed or not exercising at all during the day
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C.B.T. should be the first-line therapy for people with chronic insomnia rather than strong drugs
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It typically takes about four to five sessions over six weeks to learn the therapy and reap the benefits.
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All of the above are trying to address the same problem, which is about learning to reduce the stress and fears in your life so that you are relaxed when you approach sleep
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Consider though that by far the most unhelpful thing is not doing anything, because unless your situation changes your ability to go to sleep is unlikely to get better without some action on your part
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Just a thought

1 comment:

Donlety said...

The highly popular sleep medication ambien is used for short term sleep treatment only, i.e. for 7 to 10 days and it is known that Ambien is a prescription-based drug and hence should be used only after getting hold of a doctor’s prescription. Use Ambien as per the instructions of the doctor to cure your sleep problems and bear in mind that this medicine is likely to become ineffective if used for a long term and hence the use of this drug should be strictly supervised by a physician.