Insomnia and Caregivers

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bigstock-Insomnia-A-woman-tries-to-fal-44429569-300x196.jpgMany of us have trouble sleeping from time to time, but when this problem happens repeatedly it becomes insomnia. You may have trouble falling asleep, or you may wake up frequently, sometimes after just a few hours of sleep. This can be not only frustrating, but can affect your performance the next day. You may find thinking difficult, and even routine tasks can seem hard to muddle through. So what can you do to alleviate the effects of insomnia, and maybe even get rid of them altogether?

Why Can't I Sleep?!

There are few things more frustrating than staring at the clock all night thinking about how many hours there are left until morning. Why does insomnia get so much worse when we're stressed?

Hyperarousal occurs during times of heightened stress and can cause many problems including anxiety, fatigue, and of course insomnia. During stressful periods our bodies release adrenaline to keep us alert for whatever may happen. We often call this a fight-or-flight reaction, and unfortunately many of us live in this state constantly. We learn to live with the adrenaline constantly flowing, and our bodies pay the price. Caregivers live with stress, and are constantly caring for others' needs rather than their own, preparing mentally and emotionally for the next step, or even the next disaster. For such ones, sleep is especially important. Our bodies repair, rest, and reboot when we sleep, so this is not a debt we can afford to rack up. What can be done if insomnia has become a pattern?

Tools to Fight Insomnia

Obviously, you can't eliminate all the stress in your life. However, you can give your body the tools it needs to cope. Many experts recommend having a winding-down period before bed. Giving your brain an hour or two before bed just to relax can set the mood for a good night's sleep. Make sure that the bedroom is free from bright lights when you are ready to turn in. Turn off the TV, computer, and other electronics.

There are also other natural remedies that are available.

Melatonin. Melatonin is often effective in combating insomnia. Melatonin is a hormone that naturally occurs in the body and signals the brain that it is time to sleep.

L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid that works to increase GABA and dopamine in the brain, increasing feelings of calmness.

L-Ornithine. L-Ornithine is also an amino acid that works to reduce stimulating toxins such as ammonia. Many have found relief from insomnia using this remedy.

Magnesium and calcium. During stress the body often rids itself of relaxing minerals such as magnesium and calcium in order to gear up for action. These minerals, once lost, often need to be supplemented. Magnesium and calcium have a close relationship and must be in proper balance to be effective. They may also help reduce sugar cravings. Reduced sugar intake may in turn help insomnia.

Over the counter and prescription medications are in abundance. They include:

Diphenhydramine. Commonly known as Benadryl, this antihistamine may increase drowsiness, helping you to fall asleep. A couple of precautions are in order though. Many also contain medicine for pain, such as ibuprofen. Long term use may have side effects. Also, many report drowsiness through the next day. If you are having a short bout of insomnia, though this might be your solution.

Prescription drugs. The Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive list of prescription drugs and their specific uses here. Each one is unique in its use as well as in its side effects. Doctors often caution against long term use of prescription sleeping pills, however.

Lifestyle changes are often cited as the most crucial to overcoming insomnia. Even though a major overhaul in your lifestyle may not be possible, small changes can make a big impact. It really boils down to reducing stress wherever you can, eating a proper diet, and getting proper nutrition. As always, check with your doctor before starting any supplement regime.

Related Article

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