You must have experienced insomnia at least once in your life.

You must have known what it is like to lie awake at night, frustrated at not being able to sleep. The more frustrated you get, the less likely you are to sleep. The next day you find yourself fighting fatigue, convinced that this exhaustion will be the automatic introduction to a good night’s sleep… then it happens again. Insomnia affects all of us at one point, some far worse than others.

There are three medically recorded types of insomnia:

  • Transient insomnia lasts only a night or two, or, at most, a week. It is usually caused by some outside influence like excitement or worry.
  • Short-term insomnia can last from a few days to a few weeks, and can be caused by stress or poor sleep habits. Worry over other health problems, business or relationships can bring on a bout of short term insomnia.
  • Chronic insomnia can last for years, and the resultant loss of sleep can cause daytime sleepiness, loss of energy, poor concentration and irritability. Chronic insomnia is a serious problem.

If you suffer from transient or short term insomnia, there are many methods to help alleviate the problem. These range from warm baths to warm milk, herbal tea or other herbal remedies to the various relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation. Daytime exercise is usually beneficial.

Heavy meals or sugar-laden treats late in the evening can cause stomach distress and sleeplessness. Don’t drink coffee or smoke prior to bedtime as caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Neither is it wise to use alcohol to promote sleep. This can lead to serious problems. The use of alcohol disrupts normal sleep patterns and REM sleep. Also, as alcohol is a drug and addictive, it is possible to become dependent on it to put you to sleep.

If none of these methods works for you, or if you suspect you may be suffering from chronic insomnia, seek medical advice. A doctor can search for underlying causes or prescribe medication. Before going to your doctor, it’s a good idea to keep a sleep diary for a few weeks. Keep a notebook by the bed and mark down the hours when you are awake. This may help you detect your sleep patterns and indicate how many hours of sleep you’re really getting.

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