If you can't sleep:


If you cannot get to sleep, or you wake up and can't get back to sleep after 20 minutes or so:

  • Get up.
  • Walk around.
  • Write down any problems and decide to deal with them in the morning.
  • Have a warm, non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drink.
  • Go back to bed and start your relaxation routine again.

Adults can have insomnia due to:

  • Illness, being in pain or discomfort.
  • Sleep apnoea (a condition where a person stops breathing for short periods when sleeping]
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Boredom, loneliness, unhappiness
  • Taking quarrels or problems to bed
  • Having naps during the day, particularly in older people who may need less sleep.
  • Not exercising
  • Sleeping in an airless, noisy, or overheated room
  • Going to bed with an empty or full stomach
  • Being over stimulated from late exercise, TV and radio, stimulants such as caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola drinks) tobacco or alcohol
  • Changing work shifts or time zones.
  • Needing to pass urine during the night e.g., men with prostate disease.
  • Taking some medications that might cause insomnia or disrupt sleep e.g., some cough and cold products.


Children may have problems sleeping if they:

  •  Have a change in routine or surroundings.
  • Are sick.
  • Are unhappy or afraid.
  • Are wanting attention.
  • Are stimulated by caffeine in chocolate and cola drinks.


Self-care

Adults:

  • Remember, your sleep needs may change overtime.
  • Learn to manage your stress.
  • If you nap during the day, expect you may need less sleep at night.
  • Get fit - Try to do enough exercise to feel tired each night but avoid heavy exercise just before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol within two to three hours of bedtime.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Eat a light meal in the evening.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room with plenty of fresh air. Consider trying a black-out eye mask. You may want to try noise reducing earplugs.
  • Keep the bedroom for sleeping and relaxing only and not watching T.V.
  • Use a firm, flat mattress and a pillow that is not too high.
  • Start going to be at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each day – it’s part of training your body into a sleep cycle.


Before bed, try:

  • Relaxing in a warm bath
  • Having some warm milk and a light snack
  • Listening to peaceful music or download a relaxation app and listen to a recording.
  • Slow down your breathing and make it deeper.


Children:

  • Settle them into a regular routine.
  • Check they are comfortable, not overheated and have fresh air.
  • Talk over any fears, concerns, unhappiness.
  • Make sure you're giving them enough attention.
  • Avoid chocolate and colder drinks in the afternoon and evening.
  • Treat colds, coughs, pain or teething problems with appropriate medicines, not sedation.


Medicines

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can suggest medicines to help you sleep. These are best used for short periods.
  • If used for too long, some sleep medications can cause problems such as dependence, drowsiness in the daytime, confusion and unsteadiness especially in older people. Aim for the lowest dose for the shortest possible time.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about the best time to take other medicines so they do not interfere with sleep.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking herbal or complementary medicines for sleep problems.


Melatonin:

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. It is produced by the pineal gland in the brain, but it is also found in other areas such as the eyes, bone marrow and gut.

Melatonin is often called the “sleep hormone” as high levels can help you fall asleep.

Melatonin itself will not knock you out, it simply lets your body know that it is night-time so you can relax and fall asleep easier. Melatonin secretion decreases as you age. This natural decline may potentially lead to poor sleep in older adults. For certain patient groups your pharmacist may be able to recommend it for a 30-day course.


Magnesium for Sleep:

Additional magnesium in your diet has the potential to help you sleep better. While researchers recognise that magnesium plays an important role in sleep regulation, they do not fully understand the effect of magnesium on sleep behaviours.


What is clear from the research is that a lack of magnesium negatively impacts sleep. A serious shortage of magnesium in the body is rare. However, some of the signs of insufficient magnesium in your diet are muscle weakness and tiredness. Anxiety and depression also correlate with low magnesium levels6, and both anxiety and depression can contribute to insomnia. (sleepfoundation.org).

A good night’s sleep is important for your wellbeing. Everyone likes to have a good night's sleep, but not everyone sleeps well all the time. Having sleeping problems on a regular basis is called insomnia. Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or not feeling refreshed from sleep. Insomnia can affect people differently and can affect your daily life.

The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. Some people need as little as four to five hours, while others need much more. There is no right amount of sleep that everyone has to have.


Signs and symptoms:

  • Finding it hard to fall asleep.
  • Restless sleep
  • Waking up during the night, or exceedingly early in the morning
  • Not being able to get back to sleep if you wake at night.
  • Feeling tired, irritable, anxious, depressed, unable to concentrate


What causes insomnia:

Insomnia can have many causes - emotional, physical and environmental. Adults and children may have different reasons for their sleeping problems. The problems may become worse if you worry about it.

Sleeping Problems

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