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6 Things Only People Have Bad Night’s Sleep Would Understand (And Ways to Alleviate It)

6 Things Only People Have Bad Night’s Sleep Would Understand (And Ways to Alleviate It)

If you suffer from insomnia or you have to do shift work, then you will know all about a bad night’s sleep. If you have a newborn baby, the situation may be even worse. Join the club of 50-70 million Americans and 5 million in the UK who cannot get a decent night’s sleep. 20% of these are getting less than 6 hours sleep a night.

There are various causes such as too much Internet, email, stress, alcohol, and a host of other problems which are all stopping us from getting our share of sleep which is vital to proper functioning.

Most medical experts say that those who suffer from sleep problems are prone to more depression, anxiety and poorer health overall. Add in diabetes, obesity and heart problems and you will begin to see why this is a very worrying trend. The CDC estimates that this is a pubic health epidemic. Here are 6 things that only people with sleep problems will understand and also 4 ways to alleviate the problem.

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1. You know that tomorrow is going to be hell.

As you lie there tossing and turning and having tried everything from hot milk to sleep aids which become less and less effective, you wonder, why me? Then you start worrying again about how bad all this is for you and that tomorrow will be all the more difficult and stressful. You just know that you are going to get exhausted more quickly and that you will have problems in concentrating at work or in studying. You will be in a bad mood as well.

2. You love your baby but…..

If you are a new parent, the constant interruptions from the crying newborn have a detrimental effect and may be worse than getting no sleep at all. This interrupted sleep is about the same as getting 4 hours sleep and you just cannot function on that. Many parents often feel anger towards their newborn child building up and this makes them feel guilty which, in turn, disturbs their sleep when they do manage to fall into a fitful slumber.

3. You do not get much sympathy.

Everybody has their own remedy. They will recommend homeopathic treatments, yoga, melatonin and a host of other remedies which will vary from grandmother’s recipes to New Age discoveries. None of them work for you and people just shrug their shoulders and more or less tell you to get on with it! There is very little support and even doctors do not give this medical disorder the attention it deserves.

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4. You are not so sure about sleep aids.

How can you sort out the facts from the hysteria about sleep aids? You do all the research in your waking hours and you get all the scary stories about the health risks. Then you do more research and Big Pharma reassures you that disastrous side effects are few and far between. Yet, as you count the 456th sheep, you cannot dismiss the stories of the death of Heath Ledger who took an overdose of prescription meds which included sleep aids, of course.

5. You are more accident prone.

You are also keenly aware that lack of sleep causes accidents. You reflect bitterly that the some of the biggest accidents in history were caused by sleep deficits. The big ones such as Chernobyl, the accident at Three Mile Island and the Exxon oil spill all were connected with a lack of sleep. On a more mundane level, you worry that while driving tomorrow, you may become just another statistic in the annual 100,000 road accidents.

6. You may be causing irreversible brain damage.

Now I know that the latest experiments were done on mice but experts are alarmed that the same process may be happening in humans. Researchers at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that a lack of sleep in mice causes irreversible damage in certain brain cells. These cells are the locus ceruleus (LC) neurons which wakefulness seems to destroy and there is no chance that they will be reborn or replaced. Another study at the University of Surrey (UK) suggests that sleep is needed to clear your brain of all the toxins which have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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4 Ways To Alleviate The Problem.

There are lots of sites which will tell you how many hours of sleep you should be getting. I would advise you to treat this advice with some caution because the number of hours is only a vague indicator. What counts is the quality of the sleep you are getting. If it is a deep and restful sleep, the number of hours will be mostly irrelevant. Here are 4 ways to help you sort out the problem. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all so you may have to experiment with what works best for you.

1. Examine your lifestyle.

There is usually a compelling reason why you cannot sleep. It could be related to stress and worry. You need to look at these factors carefully. Regular bedtimes help as does a special routine which helps you wind down towards blissful sleep. Maybe you are exposed to too much artificial light just before bedtime. That may mean changing your routine a bit.

2. Change your sleeping accommodation if necessary.

As regards the bedroom, you should try and improve it as far as possible. Is it noisy and if so, could you move to another room? There may be problems with the temperature- a fairly cool one of around 18° is ideal and it should be in total darkness. Try black out curtains or a face mask if there are no real blinds on the window. The idea is to get as much sunlight during the day and as much darkness towards evening so that the melatonin substance which induces sleep can kick into action. That melatonin is vital and I can tell you that smartphones, TV and computers all interfere with its release. If you take your smartphone to bed, you are asking for trouble!

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3. Look for natural sleep aids.

Prescription sleep aids may work for a time but there is no magic cure. It may be time to look at natural alternatives. There may be something that can work for you. I take Valerian or melatonin tablets and they have usually worked. These do not work for everyone. You can try taking some warm milk before bed and/or a banana snack. Magnesium can help the brain to relax and can be found in green leafy vegetables or just by taking a magnesium supplement. Taking a hot bath with lavender oil can also help to relax and calm some insomniacs.

4. Nap wisely.

Although naps are encouraged in some workplaces to renew energy, insomniacs are advised to avoid regular napping. Experts say that when you nap for more than 30 minutes, you tend to fall into a deep sleep and when you wake up, you may feel groggy and very unproductive so it seems to have the opposite effect. Naps can be useful though when you limit them to less than 20 minutes and provided you do not take them late in the afternoon or evening or falling asleep in front of the TV near your bedtime. If you avoid these traps, you can help to keep to your regular bedtime schedule and avoid upsetting your wake sleep cycle which is essential for restful sleep.

What helps you to get off to sleep? Let us know in the comments how you deal with insomnia.

Featured photo credit: Insomnia persists/ Quinn Dombrowski via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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