“After an especially hectic and stressful day, I know that when my head hits the pillow, sleep will likely not come easily. I try to ‘let it go,’ and leave my troubles behind…but I cannot fall sleep. Typically, when I do finally fall asleep, I can expect my ‘busy mind’ will bring up many personal concerns if I wake for any reason. The worst side effect of my lack of sleep is that I am much less productive during the day, and I am often impatient with my family and my co-workers.”
– Female executive, age 43
Remember when your children fought taking a nap…and how much you would love to have one right now. Children need between 9–15 hours of sleep, depending on their age. Lack of sleep for school-age children can cause problems at school with behavior, teachers and grades. They need to work “very hard” at staying awake while in school and may have trouble concentrating or doing well with the assignments.
Most adults function best with 7–9 hours of good, restful sleep.
Lack of sleep, known as insomnia, can cause you to be less alert, not remember things, and some people become depressed. When you don’t have adequate sleep, it can increase your chance of getting sick, and you might feel body pain more intensely. When you chronically don’t get enough quality sleep, it can affect your over health and well being.
Too little sleep can make activities like driving dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that sleep-deprived drivers annually cause 83,000 motor vehicle accidents and 850 deaths. (Need a citation on this claim)
Insomnia-caused sleeplessness, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, is a symptom of physical or psychological problems.
Sleeping pills can help you get to sleep, but sadly more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are addicted to sleeping pills. (Need a citation on this claim)
Insomnia can cause a wide variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, obesity, heart disease, memory issues, lack of vigor, and lethargy. So what can help?
Relief can be found in alternative methods—complementary or alternative medicine (CAM)—so called because they can be used with traditional medical therapies. What works for one person might not work for another, but here are three safe alternatives to consider. Consult a physician before trying anything new; then start slow:
1) Yoga, when practiced regularly, can make significant improvements in quality of sleep, how long it takes for you to fall asleep, and duration of continuous sleep.
2) Meditation is the art of focusing on breathing techniques that alter your consciousness. Mindful meditation is especially effective as it focuses on the present moment and allows your thoughts to flow without any judgment. Those who practiced mindful mediation for 20 minutes a day saw major improvement in their sleep, including reduction of insomnia.
3) Hypnosis is a state of hyper focus where therapeutic suggestions can be introduced to change a given behavior. It is also used for weight loss, pain reduction, smoking cessation, and stress reduction—all of which can cause insomnia.
Each of these three techniques helps the mind and nervous system to relax and “let go.” Using one or all of these methods when you crawl into bed, could help you to look forward to going to sleep and staying asleep, and who doesn’t want that!