Insomnia: Some help and advice on how to combat the condition that affects up to 25% of the population. There are a variety of causes but thankfully there are alternatives to the traditional pharmaceutical approach.
A good nights sleep is vital to maintain your health.
Almost 25% of the population have problems sleeping, with senior citizens suffering more. A survey of people aged 65 and over revealed that almost 30% of men have trouble sleeping. This is dwarfed by the statistic on elderly women which shows that nearly 40% suffer from the effects of insomnia. A US study in 2003 showed that people who were more susceptible to illness were also more likely to have less sleep, linking the quality and length of sleep to the quality of our immune systems.
Some Interesting Statistics
In England alone, each year doctors write over 10 Million prescriptions for insomniacs, and consumer groups are worried about the effect this amount of sleeping pills is having on the population. Side effects of sleeping tablets can include memory loss, irritability and concentration lapses which may result in accidents. A statement issued by the Consumers Association Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin stated:
‘Even though the elderly are more likely to experience the symptoms of insomnia, it is this demographic who should avoid prescription medication treatment. Even though, over 80% of sleeping medication is prescribed to the elderly, many of whom become reliant on the drug and take them for many months or even years.’
Sleeping pills should only be used short term as the body can build a dependency on them. The Foundation for Mental Health estimates that long term usage of sleeping medication is higher among the older generation bit also women of all ages. Dr Ike Iheanacho , editor of The Consumers’ Association Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin states:
‘Even though there is little evidence to show their effectiveness and there are a whole range of unwanted side-effects, the use of hypnotic drugs is common’
As the main causes of insomnia are stress, emotional problems and dietary habits there are ways of dealing with the symptoms without having to resort to harmful drugs.
Firstly, try and treat the root cause of your stress, take time out from hectic schedules to relax, try not to take your work home with you.
Exercise is amazing for insomnia, firstly, it tires the body out so it needs sleep, secondly, it releases anti stress hormones into the brain. Exercise should be taken regularly anyway, why not treat your insomnia and get healthy at the same time?
Less sleep as you age?
It is believed that as we age our bodies need less sleep. Researchers are now saying that this is a myth and that those who sleep less at night tend to nap in the day to make up for this. This would explain why the elderly have an afternoon nap.
As we age, we produce less of a hormone called Melatonin. Melatonin is believed to be a key ingredient in regulating sleep. Melatonin is produced under a variety of conditions, especially being exposed to daylight. Scientist’s recommend getting at least 2 hours of daylight per day, research shows however that the elderly average only 1 hour per day. Melatonin is available in supplement form but only on prescription, it is a known antioxidant and is widely rumored to have anti-ageing properties.
Valerian is a herbal remedy that has been proven to work by modern science. Thousands of studies have shown its effectiveness in regulating sleep patterns. An additional benefit is that it does not cause the user to feel drowsy the next morning.
As we now know, sleeping is vital to maintaining a healthy body, give your body the rest it deserves!