If you’ve ever laid awake, staring at the clock and hoping for sleep, you’re one of the millions of people who have experienced the dreaded insomnia. Although it might seem like you are the only one awake in the early morning hours, there are many people out there that are in the same sleepless boat. For people suffering from neurological conditions, sleepless nights can be more than just a frustration.
Today, people sleep approximately 20% less than they did 100 years ago. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every three people suffer from insomnia at some point in their lifetime. More than half of Americans lost sleep due to stress or anxiety. While women are twice as likely as men to suffer from insomnia, about 35% of those people have a family history of the condition. Due to so many people having difficulty sleeping, it is no surprise that sleep aids are a popular way to combat insomnia. In the US today, approximately 10 million people use sleep aids.
Although not every person needs the same amount of sleep to be healthy and productive, there are some guidelines when it comes to sleeping. Infants require about 16 hours of sleep a day, while teenagers need an average of nine hours of sleep. Adults should aim for seven to eight hours a night, but women in the first trimester of pregnancy may need more sleep than usual. For people with neurological conditions, sleep is critical. In a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the very conditions that require sleep, sometimes make it very hard to attain. And lack of sleep for neurological patients can lead to worsening symptoms from pain and stiffness to memory loss, confusion, headaches and even seizures. For these people, medications can be daunting as well, bringing about additional problems from extreme fatigue during the day to racing heart at night and even depression. “Many neurologic conditions are associated with a higher rate of depression, so many patients also take antidepressants, which can adversely affect quality of sleep,” says Michael Thorpy, MD, director of the Montefiore Medical Center Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in the Bronx, NY.
So what can you do to help overcome insomnia? There are many suggestions to help better regulate sleep. Though it may seem like a no-brainer, controlling noise is imperative. If you cannot sleep in a quiet room, white noise or earplugs may help. Regulate the light in your surroundings by bringing in sunlight during the day and making sure that the room you sleep in at night is completely dark. Reset your “inner clock” by maintaining a consistent schedule including bed and waking times. Make your bed as comfortable as possible and take a warm bath before bedtime. In addition to helping relax muscles and prevent cramping, it makes you feel good! And finally, keep your bedroom for sleeping. Try not to work, pay bills, play video games or do anything else not sleep related when you are getting ready for bed. These things keep your mind engaged and going and significantly lowers your levels of melatonin, which helps to regulate circadian rhythm. Important to remember in the morning hours as well, when you awake, do not lounge in the bed. A good rule is if you cannot fall back to sleep in 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something in another room, such as reading, before trying to return to bed for additional sleep.
If sleep problems are persistent, it is important to discuss that with your physician. Before visiting your doctor, try keeping a sleep diary for a week to ten days and be sure to include when you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, when you wake, when you get out of bed, if you take naps, exercise and any alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that you consume.
Do you or a loved one suffer from a neurological condition and find that you are having trouble sleeping or have symptoms that are interfering with rest? Chiropractic Neurology may be the perfect, drug-free treatment plan to help. For questions and a consultation, please call Dr Marc Ellis and his team at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center today.