March 11, 2011
So here you are again. The day is done, the sun said goodbye, and the curtains of the night drape the horizon. It’s time to sleep again. Another night, another time to relax. You lie down on your nice bed and try to sleep. Then it happens. Your eyes are closed, but your mind is racing. Ideas and thoughts of work, deadlines, and things to do fly around your head. You beg for sleep, but no sleep comes. You check your clock and an hour has passed by already. An hour of precious sleep just flew by. Then a second hour passes. You still haven’t slept. Are you kidding me?! You ask yourself in helplessness and almost anger. But, it won’t help. It struck again. We call it insomnia.
Believe it or not, insomnia is most often caused by what we eat, drink, think of, or by external factors. So the best way of fighting insomnia is getting around these factors. Here are some tips:
Watch what you eat
Since insomnia is caused by what we eat or drink, there are certain things we have to avoid eating before we sleep. These are foods or drinks that are high in caffeine, carbohydrates, or sugar. Caffeine, which can be found in common sodas, soft drinks, coffee, and some variants of tea, acts as a stimulant to the nervous system which keeps us awake.
Foods that are high in carbohydrates also cause insomnia. If taken in excess, even foods that have medium carbohydrate content will cause sleeplessness. Allow me to refresh you what foods have carbohydrates. Essentially, these are “Go” foods such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, grains, etc. We eat cereals, grains and bread in the morning because these foods are “body fuels” that causes us to “Go.” But at night, you don’t want to “Go” anymore, do you? You want to rest. So, if you want to eat any of these foods, make sure you don’t do so at night. Another type of food to avoid is those that contain simple carbohydrates, or simply, sugar. High-sugar foods cause insomnia so candies, cakes, and other sweet treats should be taken in moderation.
Anxiety and depression are also known causes of insomnia. First of all, you should acknowledge sleep as a time of rest, so you should stop worrying and thinking of all those deadlines when you climb into bed. Make your bed space and bed room, if possible, a personal sanctuary of sorts, a place where you can relax and let go of stress. However, if you’ve been feeling down and depressed for a long period of time, I suggest you consult a guidance counselor, therapist, or even a friend or family member about what’s troubling you. Your chronic insomnia may be a wake-up call for you to go seek some help.
The most common cause of insomnia is linked to external factors. Your neighbor might be playing his stereo too loud, or you’re just recovering from jetlag. It may also be that it’s too hot or it’s too cold. Or maybe your working hours aren’t a good fit for you. Sometimes you end up getting used to these external factors, but often times they can be really grating on the nerves. So try to work out these factors and make yourself as comfortable as you can.
To sum it all up, when you can’t sleep, stop thinking of worrying thoughts that trouble you. Reading a book helps. Don’t open your computer or watch the television as bright lights stimulate your brain. Listen to relaxing music. Classical music, maybe? With these in mind, I hope your next slumber will be pleasant.