The ABCs of Getting ZZZ

Cecile LaRiviere

Posted on March 18 2014

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, wake too early or feel tired, groggy and have difficulty concentrating during the day, you could have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia.

According to recent reports one-third of adults suffer occasionally from insomnia and 14 percent experience chronic insomnia.

Sleep is absolutely vital for good health. It is a fundamental need for survival, just like food and water. Yet it is often compromised to accommodate a busy schedule.

There are many misconceptions surrounding sleep. Contrary to common belief, if you miss sleep during the week you can’t catch up on the weekend. And if you think that sleep is just a passive state you may be surprised to know that during sleep our bodies are actually producing hormones and working on important elements for repair and regeneration.

The consequences of poor or inadequate sleep go well beyond just feeling tired during the day. Getting less than six hours sleep is now associated with many serious health problems such as heart disease, depression, weakened immune function, headaches, memory loss and even low libido and weight gain.

Aside from a busy life, many factors can hamper our ability to get a good night's rest, including:
  • stress

  • hormonal imbalances (such as menopause)

  • use of alcohol or caffeine

  • side effects of drugs

  • working shift work and more.

As a quick fix approach many turn to prescription sleeping pills. In fact, the use of these drugs in our sleepless society has almost doubled over the past decade. While these drugs may help put you to sleep, they do not provide a long-term solution and they are associated with several side effects including loss of short-term memory, next day drowsiness and sleepwalking. When used chronically, they become less effective, can result in dependency and can actually worsen sleep quality.

To sleep better without the risks of sleeping pills, try a few simple lifestyle changes. Here are some A, B, Cs to have better quality Zs:

A - Allow
Allow adequate time for sleep and make sleep a priority each day. Experts recommend
7-8 hours for adults.

B - Bedtime
Bedtime routines help develop good sleep hygiene. Try going to bed around the same time each evening. Do relaxing activities at night such as reading, stretching or meditation. This will help to signal your brain that it’s time to sleep. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar in the evening; these are common sleep disrupters.

C - Consider
Consider a supplement. Sleep supplements  can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Try femMED’s Sleep formula.

D - Darkness
Darkness can help by promoting your body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycles. Make your room dark by using light blocking shades. Keep electronics such as cell phones and computers out of your bedroom.

If you are struggling with persistent problems sleeping, despite making lifestyle adjustments, consult with your doctor for a proper assessment.

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