Sleepless in North Carolina…or too tired to write.

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Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have trouble sleeping through the night? Do you find that you’ve just settled into your best sleep right before the alarm clock goes off? Do you have difficulty getting out of bed each morning? Do you find those happy morning people extremely irritating?

You’re not alone. The National Institute of Health states that at any given time, 30% of the population states they are sleep-deprived. Frighteningly, ten percent of these people suffer from noticeable daytime functional impairment. I’ve heard it said that driving sleep-deprived is the same as driving drunk.

Do you have insomnia?

People with insomnia either have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Symptoms of poor sleep are:

  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating at school or at work
  • Mood swings/Irritability
  • Depression
  • Behavioral problems
  • Relationship Issues

There are two types of insomnia, acute and chronic. Acute insomnia refers to those transitory times when we just can’t fall asleep. These are times like Christmas Eve, the night before a new job or the first day of school. Acute insomnia doesn’t persist. It may last for a week or so, but eventually without any effort on your part, you go back to your normal sleep cycle. Chronic insomnia is different.

What is Chronic Insomnia?

Insomnia is considered chronic when you experience poor sleep at least three times a week for a minimum of three months.  Studies show that people who experience chronic insomnia are more prone to traffic accidents, state decreased job satisfaction, take more frequent sick days and are easily irritated.

What Can You Do About Chronic Insomnia?

Assess your diet. Caffeinated drinks such as sodas and coffee can impact your ability to fall asleep. I find that I can’t have caffeine after lunchtime. Each time this past month that I’ve had a caffeinated drink in the late afternoon, I’ve experienced difficulty falling asleep. And by difficulty, I mean I can’t fall asleep.

Alcohol use can also negatively affect your sleep. Although alcohol is a known sedative, it interferes with your body’s ability to achieve a deep and restful sleep. Limit yourself to one glass of wine or beer each evening.

Review your life. Have any major life events happened recently? Have you moved, lost or gained a job, or gotten a divorce? Major life changes, good or bad, can throw us for a loop. These changes can wreak havoc on your internal clock and negatively affect your natural sleep rhythms.  Be kind to yourself and consider therapy. Recent research has shown that the only treatment that works to remove the CAUSE of insomnia is talk therapy. Medication can help in the short-term, but unless you want to take medicine forever, therapy is your friend. Look for therapists who specialize in insomnia.

And last, but certainly not least, talk to your doctor about your insomnia; there may be an underlying medical cause for your inability to fall asleep. When’s the last time you had a complete physical? Keep a sleep and diet log to track your dietary habits against your sleep cycles. By tracking my caffeine use, I was able to see the correlation between drinking tea late in the day and my lack of sleep that evening. You don’t have to live in the foggy state of the perpetually sleep-deprived. Work to get the rest you desire so you can live the full life you deserve.

Take care of yourself. Don’t let poor sleep keep you from achieving your goals!  I made an appointment with my doctor for next week.

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