The positive effect of a good night sleep is visible in the smiling face of a person. On the other hand, if you have been struggling in your bed to catch some sleep before the morning work, you will feel drowsy and tired through out the day. Sleep is an essential activity which rests our body and refreshes our body systems. It helps us stay fit and healthy and keep fighting hurdles to move ahead in life.
Sleep requirements vary for kids and adults. While infants need 15-16 hours of sleep for brain development, young kids can do with 9-10 hours of undisturbed sleep. An adult would require around 8-9 hours of sound sleep. These are just a range and individual needs may be different. If you feel tired, sleepy and are unable to concentrate on your work then these are the body signals to go to bed and catch some sleep.
Considering the hectic lifestyle we live nowadays, it is common to have sleep problems. Sleep problems are not limited to adults but children and elderly are equally vulnerable. Children can have sleep problems such as night terrors, nightmares, bedwetting or sleepwalking. Elderly people also have a number of sleep problems such as insomnia, early waking, restless leg syndrome, disturbed sleep etc.
Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults. Women are more susceptible to this sleeping disorder as compared to men. Insomnia also gets worse as the person gets older. Hence, it becomes all the more important to treat insomnia as soon as the symptoms are diagnosed. Insomnia is characterized by the inability to sleep/maintain sleep for a reasonable length of time. You can see your insomniac friends in college or work to be awake till late in the night while doing nothing.
Insomnia can be classified as transient, acute or chronic insomnia. Transient insomnia is the most common case where a person has sleep problems for a period of few days due to anxiety or jetlag etc. If episodes of transient insomnia repeat after every few days then it may be called intermittent insomnia. Acute insomnia is the cases where the problem can continue for few weeks to months. A person is known to suffer from chronic insomnia if he passes sleepless nights for over a month together. Cases of acute and chronic insomnia should not be neglected.
The activity of sleeping and waking up is controlled by melatonin hormone that is produced in our body. Melatonin is responsible for controlling the body clock by telling us when to sleep and when o wake up. The production of melatonin is inhibited by light and it is during our night sleep that melatonin is released by the pineal gland of the brain. Decreased production of the hormone causes sleep problems. However, this is not the sole culprit. Melatonin supplements are available in form of pills and are prescribed to insomnia patients.
The best way to treat insomnia or any other sleep disorder for that matter is to develop a healthy sleep routine. Leading an active lifestyle, physical exercise and simple food habits can take you a long way. Though there are medications available, but most of the medications either are addictive in nature or they tend to be ineffective after a few weeks of usage.
There are several home remedies as well but there utility has not been medically proven and the effectiveness is purely anecdotal. Pomegranates have known to be useful for people with insomnia. Similarly, a glass of warm milk and cider wine with honey during bedtime is known to give a healthy sleep. Aroma therapy massages with lavender oil, jasmine oil used in combination with carrier oil is also known to induce a deep sleep. These alternative remedies can be really helpful for some people and one must definitely give them a try before going in for chemical medications.
Also people who have suffered from insomnia attacks should avoid intake of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or any such stimulants, especially during the evening or before bed. These directly affect the brain activity and can hinder the sleep process.
As a final word, I would like to emphasize the fact that sleep disorders can be disturbing for any person. One must live a cautiously and judiciously to prevent such problems. Always remember the adage “Prevention is better than the cure”.