(AscendHealthy.com) – Sleep quality can make or break a day. Some people might take for granted how important those 8 hours of downtime every night really are, but sleep can feel like a precious commodity for those of us who aren’t getting enough of it.
Insomnia is an ongoing issue for one in seven adults, with women being in the slight majority. It can strike people for a number of reasons, but most cases can stem back to one of three major issues. We have the breakdown and some ideas that might help.
1. Missing Ingredients
Our bodies run on a delicate balance of hormones and neurochemicals, all of which depend on our taking in a certain amount of nutrients. When deficiencies arise, the effects can be surprising — especially when it comes to their connections to our sleep.
Melatonin, one of the chemicals our brains make, has numerous functions, but one biggie is that it helps us fall and stay asleep each night. Our brains need the right ingredients, including vitamin D and L-tryptophan, to make this important hormone.
Deficiencies are easy to overlook as a cause of insomnia, but some people find a change as little as broadening the diet or getting a few minutes of sunlight each day makes a difference in their sleep quality. Consuming foods naturally high in melatonin, such as cherries, grapes and strawberries, may also help improve sleep quality.
2. Racing Thoughts
For some people, bedtime is when their brains feel the most active. Every little worry becomes inescapable, making rest a distant dream.
Research has found strong links between anxiety and depression and chronic insomnia. In fact, insomniacs are nearly 10 times more likely to suffer from anxiety and almost 20 times more likely to be depressed than people who sleep normally.
Distress over reduced sleep quality can further feed insomnia, sometimes causing dangerous downward spirals. In many individuals, variations of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which tackle the sources of the distress, can alleviate this type of sleeplessness.
3. Poor Sleep Hygiene
For some insomnia sufferers, fixing the issue can be as simple as making a few changes to their sleep routines. Good sleep hygiene is necessary for restful, consistent sleep. Many insomniacs find the following tips helpful:
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Aim to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning — even on days off.
- Have a nightly routine for winding down and relaxing before bedtime. This may mean reading a good book or meditating.
- Reserve time in bed solely for sleep and intimate activity with a partner.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Keep the bedroom temperature comfortable. Rooms that are too hot or too cold can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol late in the evenings.
- Strive for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
- Only go to bed when you’re ready for sleep.
- Get up for a short while if sleep doesn’t come within 20 minutes.
Establishing good sleep hygiene can take some effort at first, but many people find that a regular routine helps them get more consistent sleep.
Most of us have dealt with insomnia at least once, but chronic sufferers often have similar underlying factors. These three are the most common, but they’re not the only possible causes. If none of the above reasons seem to apply, consider seeing a healthcare provider to rule out specific medical issues that can also affect sleep quality. Chronic insomnia can devastate a person’s quality of life, but real solutions are available.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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