One of the most common sleep problems I encounter in my clinic is waking in the early hours - usually between 2am and 4am - then finding it hard to get back to sleep. In the long term, missing out on this vital stage of sleep can be debilitating and even lead to serious health problems.
Sleep has a love hate relationship with many of us. Its benefits cannot be denied: it has been claimed to be linked to weight loss, concentration, mood, attractiveness, long life, memory and overall better health to name a few. But despite knowing some or all of the facts, most people (myself included) find ourselves 'burning the candle at both ends'.
Contrary to statistics that put me in the seventy percent chance of post-natal psychosis, I held my head firmly above water. It wasn't easy, at times the water stank, many times, in fact most of the time, but I wouldn't allow myself - now a mother - to go under.
The emotions of want are heavily related to the emotions of connection, the more we are able to connect with others the less likely we are going to stand out and be alone - sadly this fake reality is something most will live up to, often failing to live life by their own consciously aware path, but more-so to comply with another's ideal of how life should be designed and lived.
Researching and practising sleep techniques with patients has led me to realise that there are a host of practical, highly effective and sustainable strategies that one can adopt, helping avoid a trip to the doctor... Here are ten tried and tested strategies that I have been recommending for years, which have helped patients learn how to sleep again.
It's fair to say I've never slept well. Decades of insomnia, night terrors, sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep apnoea, sleep paralysis and sleep paranoia means, if nothing else, it's a laugh riot sharing a bed with me.
Sleep disruption can affect our health in many ways including increased stress, impaired mental acuity and weakening of the immune system. It is unfortunately often hard for people with poor sleep patterns to easily adjust potentially detrimental aspects of their life, such as work stress, to help remedy this situation.
Our bodies are cleverer than our minds. When we are truly tired, we will fall asleep. Sleeping is a natural action. You don't have to do anything to get to sleep. It is not humanly possible to stay awake forever. The one topic that mustn't be on one's list of worries is sleep itself. That is what can stop you from sleeping and make you ill, both physically and psychologically.
Magnesium, 'nature's tranquiliser', is the one mineral your body can't afford for you to ignore...
Anyone suffering insomnia, I'm sure can relate to waking up at all times of the night, not quite certain if to leave the warmth of their bed, or remain tossing and turning relentlessly, in the hope of finally falling asleep.
Sleep research tells us that good sleep boosts our immune system, which protects us from coughs and colds. It regulates the hormones that control our appetite, helping us to maintain a healthy weight. Good sleep also regulates our mood and so helps to combat feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
I urge the broken hearted to get off the sofa, put down your Ben & Jerry's and take up a form of sport - it doesn't matter what it is but just get moving. Not only will this heal the heart and mind, but remember you are now single so you want to get in shape!
The oft-repeated saying that we spend a third of our lives asleep is largely true. Sleep helps us recover our energy; it regulates our hormones, allows our body to grow and repair, strengthens our immune system, improves our mental health and, perhaps most ironically for those struggling to sleep, reduces our anxiety.
Being bipolar I expected: 'I don't think you can handle it' and 'It's not the right time' (Hello, wrong end of my thirties) and 'But what if you have a bad day?' and I did get all of the above.
Insomnia is most commonly thought of as both a medical sign and a symptom that can accompany many diverse illnesses, therefore the number of people suffering sleepless nights around the world is unimaginable. Insomnia is one of the annoying effects, those living with Parkinson's have to endure.
Pain creates tension in the body, which feeds back into the brain, which responds by turning up the 'volume' on its pain amplifiers, creating even more suffering.