Insomnia is a disorder that affects the overall quality of sleep in about 50-70 million American adults, and symptoms manifest when patients have difficulty sleeping, waking up at night and not being able to go back to sleep, or waking up too early in the morning. Not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep can cause extreme fatigue during the day, which can be a hazard at work or while driving. Among the serious health consequences linked to insomnia are an increased chance for developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
There are various ways to treat insomnia that involve adopting simple sleeping habits that can improve quality of sleep. In some cases, patients who cannot sleep after making recommended changes can take medications like Ambien, which helps sedate body through various sleep cycles.
Sleep Hygiene: To maintain a regular sleeping habits, the National Sleep Foundation recommends going to bed and waking up at the same time to maintain the body in circadian rhythm in balance. While drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes can help some individuals unwind at night, it is best to avoid them all together as they cause disruptive sleep that can cause drowsiness during the day. Eating large or spicy meals right before bed can also disrupt sleep by causing ingestion that can make it difficult fall or stay asleep.
Melatonin: Derived from the pineal gland located above the middle of the brain, melatonin is a natural hormone that is released into the blood after dark. The release of melatonin levels in the body spikes overnight, which causes the body to become less alert and causes drowsiness. Individuals who experience insomnia can purchase melatonin supplements over-the-counter to help the body shut down and prep for a full 7-8 hours of sleep.
Avoid Artificial Light: Watching television or reading on mobile devices right before bed can cause insomnia by disrupting the body’s natural sleep cycle and melatonin levels. The artificial short-wavelength or blue light that is emitted from electronic devices such as phones or laptops suppresses the body’s melatonin levels, increasing the potential for waking up in the middle of the night and low quality sleep that can cause drowsiness during the day. It is best to avoid electronic devices 1 to 2 hours before bedtime to decrease the effect that artificial light has on the body’s natural sleep cycle.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT can help insomnia patients by changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that can contribute to disruptive patterns of sleep by changing associations and placing restrictions to sleep. Through stimulus control therapy, patients are trained to associate the bedroom with sleep to help establish consistent sleep patterns. Another way to fight insomnia is through sleep restriction therapy, which involves limiting the amount of time spent in the bed to the amount of time spent of sleep. Through sleep restriction, the patient is subject to mild sleep deprivation that over time increases the overall quality of sleep.
Sleep Aids: Daily stress and other health conditions can make it difficult for some to get the recommended 7-8 hour of sleep. When adopting healthy sleeping habits isn't enough, doctors can recommend prescription sleep medications like Ambien that help sedate the body. The active ingredient in Ambien, zolpidem, works by slowing down brain activity, and inducing extreme drowsiness 30 minutes after taking it. Zolpidem helps patients with insomnia fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the various sleep cycles.
While taking charge of healthy sleep habits can be a challenge, getting the recommended sleep can help improve overall body function to help avoid an array of health complications. Whether it be adopting a sleeping habit or taking medications like Ambien, improving the quality of sleep has direct effect on other existing medical conditions and can help avoid accidents related to lack of sleep.