Insomnia: What to do about it

Insomnia is that annoying disorder of not being able to sleep. Insomnia makes it hard to fall asleep or once you fall asleep, it's tough to stay asleep. To this date, I have never slept the proverbial eight hours suggested by many over the years. In fact, if I lie down too long, my body starts to ache. I never understood the person who could just lie in bed all day if they're not sleepy.

The reason for insomnia is different among people yet the same result. With lupus, in my case, I experience a mixed bag of symptoms. Lupus is autoimmune, meaning the immune system attacks itself, causing damage or potential damage to internal and external organ systems. Lupus makes it hard to tell what is causing negative symptoms because it masks other disorders. You think you have one thing when it can be another.

I'm a single mom of two sons with autism and that keeps me alert and on edge. You would think that after having a hectic day that I would be exhausted. On the contrary, having a hectic lifestyle can have your mind wandering. Instead of relaxing, you're thinking about tomorrow evening's dinner so to speak.

Insomnia is also common in women who are menopausal. The lack of estrogen changes the hormonal system, causing night sweats and irritability. These symptoms interrupt your sleep pattern. You're constantly waking up to change your shirt and/or your sheet from being drenched in sweat.

If you are experiencing insomnia, try to get at the root cause of it. Taking sleeping pills or drinking alcoholic beverages at night are temporary fixes. The use of certain medications may cause insomnia unknowingly. Whatever the case, try to figure out how to tackle insomnia by making simple changes in your lifestyle.

I'm a big coffee drinker (since the age of nine) and believed that the caffeine did not affect me at night. Caffeine does indeed affect your sleep as it makes its way in the foods we eat or beverages we drink. Sugary foods and drinks are a culprit of insomnia as well.

The changes I have already made in my lifestyle is not to eat or drink anything past 7pm. I always believed that what you eat or drink in the evening or what your last conversation was, determines what kind of sleep you're going to have. Watching or listening to negative news reports or people should be a definite no-no. I truly try to avoid spicy foods at night because spicy foods gives me weird dreams, leading to insomnia.

The saying "Early to bed, early to rise" is so true. The earlier you go to sleep, the earlier you will awake. I'm usually in bed at 7pm and fall asleep around 8pm. I'm a light sleeper and wake up at least two to three times a night. When that occurs, I use that time to pray and talk to God. Finding something constructive to do during your insomnia makes it tolerable.

If you're wanting to go back to sleep, listening to soft music or sounds can ease you back into it. Reading a boring book is known to nod a few heads. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you're experiencing chronic insomnia and it's affecting your overall mood, see a doctor. He/she may determine what might be the cause of it. Mayo Clinic further states that some doctors may even refer you to a sleep center for special testing.

My task is to be consistent with my lifestyle changes at night. I'm already seeing several specialists for lupus and hopefully will not see the need for a "sleep" specialist. Insomnia is something that you can take control over if dealt with properly. I guess that everything in life really is mind over matter and tackling insomnia is one of them.

Filed under: Health and Wellness

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