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  • Techniques for Treating Insomnia

    There are a wide variety of treatments that have been used to treat primary insomnia. Though each has its own merits, the most effective way of eliminating insomnia and restoring normal sleep is usually a combination of many, if not all of the general techniques. We’ll all include a number of alternative treatments that, though not scientifically proven, have provided relief for some.

    Sleep Hygiene

    Think of improving sleep hygiene as something akin to the same effort that is put into dental hygiene. We brush our teeth, floss, pay attention to the foods that we eat and visit the dentist regularly – few of us would purposely choose skipping any of these steps, yet we relegate sleep to a second or third choice after work and social activities – or even the late, late show. The steps that need to be taken to improve sleep hygiene are holistic and encompass both eliminating stimulants like coffee or tea from our diet and improving our attention to our sleep schedule. It also includes making sure that you are sleeping in an appropriate environment, with temperature set appropriately, lights and noise turned down and all distractions eliminated.  Continue reading

  • When Do We Start Sleeping?

    There have been a number of different theories on when sleeping and dreaming actually begins, with most scientists concluding that dreaming was not possible before infants actually started to become conscious and aware of the world around them. But in recent years, as we have gained the opportunity to see into the womb through ultrasound and other technologies, we have learned that sleep begins long before we are born, and that REM sleep is present in babies long before birth.

    The study of neonatal sleep is a relatively new science. We still are not sure when a developing fetus begins to alternate between being awake and being asleep, but we do know that babies that are born prematurely have a distinctive wakefulness pattern, and even though we know that a fetus is extremely active even when it is asleep, we still are able to discern that they spend between 16 and 20 hours sleeping.  Continue reading

  • Sleep Education

    The idea of providing education about sleep within our children’s health programs in school is a novel one, but one that should be seriously considered. Most people think of sleep as something that comes naturally and that is an unchanging aspect of our lives, but our sleep requirements change dramatically as we age; every aspect, including how much rest we need, what time we go to sleep and how much of our time is spent dreaming or not, changes as we progress from infancy, to childhood, from teenage years to middle and old age.  Our lack of knowledge about these changes can lead to health problems and even dangerous situations as we get older, and all of these problems could be minimized with a little bit of basic guidance, much like that which is offered regarding nutrition.  Continue reading

  • Insomnia: Its Dangers and its Causes

    The importance of getting enough sleep cannot be stressed strongly enough: when a person suffers from sleep deprivation they are operating at an extreme disadvantage in terms of happiness and mental acuity, and if their sleep debt builds for more than a few days the dangers of something disastrous happening increase dramatically.  Unfortunately, just as sleep is one of the first things that people are willing to sacrifice when it comes to a tug of war between social or work obligations and getting enough rest, the same lack of understanding of sleep’s importance can mean that a person who experiences repeated bouts of insomnia dismisses the problem as insignificant. When insomnia strikes for more than a few days, it is essential that its cause is found and it is treated. Continue reading

  • Sleep and Aging

    It seems as though just as we outgrow the notorious teenage problem of being unable to fall asleep at a healthy hour, life and all of its relentless responsibilities catches up with us and piles on top of us, offering us absolutely no relief from the sleep deprivation that seems to have followed us from puberty on up. As our bodies age and our muscles, bones, skin and internal organs begin to deteriorate in middle age, our sleep cycles do as well.

    Though we can blame much of it on nature, the truth is that much of our middle-aged sleep deprivation arises from our own dreams and desires. We prioritize the business of our lives so that sleep is shattered by our schedules rather than by hormones or a shifting biological sleep clock.  The requirements of our work lives, the need to care for our families and all of the other million things that drive us all to run ourselves ragged also end up infringing upon our sleep time, in large part because we still have not correctly prioritized our bodies’ need for rest.  Most middle-aged adults get seven hours of sleep per night, a number that is probably less than they need. Continue reading

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