You are not alone. 30% of the ‘normal’ population has at least one sleepless night every week but it is made up the next day. It is not important to sleep a set number of hours but to feel fresh in the morning.

Do you find that you….

  • take too long to fall asleep?
  • wake up often in the night, feeling restless?
  • wake up too early in the mornings and feel at your worst?
  • manage to sleep, but still feel unrested?

Insomnia is not rare, and, nor is it always an illness. It can be caused by…

  • changes in one’s life, such as a new job
  • pain or discomfort during illness or withdrawal from drugs
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • other psychiatric problems

Tips to improve sleep

  • Learning to meditate and practicing certain Yogic breathing or relaxation exercises, may relieve you of your sleep problem. Here are some other tips you may like to try. You will have to see which of these suits you best.
  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Don’t lie in bed to think or read.
  • Keep regular sleeping hours. Stop afternoon naps. Also, follow a routine each night just leading up to bed time.
  • Do not drink alcohol, coffee, tea, or cold drinks, a few hours before sleeping. Alcohol, in particular, suppresses the deepest sleep. Instead, try warm milk.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and your room just as you like it for sleeping.
  • Stop trying hard to fall asleep. People sleep better when they are told to try and stay awake instead.
  • Stop worrying about what will happen if you don’t get sleep. Your body will take as much as it needs. People can do with much less sleep than they think.
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Engage in quiet activities before sleeping.
  • Wake up an hour earlier than your usual wake up time – this may make you feel sleepier next evening.
  • Put on soft instrumental music before sleeping.
  • Have someone massage your neck and shoulders.

If none of these methods work for you, or if you feel that your sleep problem…

  • is accompanied by changes in your behavior
  • is accompanied by feelings of anxiety or depression
  • has gone on for too long
  • is severe

…then, consult a psychiatrist or psychologist.

The psychiatrist may use special relaxation techniques, or teach you bodily control through biofeedback. Machine assisted electrosleep earlier in the evening helps a person sleep better. The psychiatrist may try to uncover the basic reason for sleep disturbance. Medication may be used temporarily to correct the sleep cycle. Medication would be required if sleep disturbance is a part of a bigger psychiatric problem as is usually the case.

Some words of caution:

Never take any sleep medication on your own. The body can become used to these medicines very rapidly, and stronger doses are needed each time for a relaxing effect. Both sleeping pills and alcohol suppress the deepest stage of sleep. Even when prescribed by a physician, check about discontinuation after some time. Let the psychiatrist decide under which conditions use of sedatives for sleep is appropriate.