For most of us, the end of a long day means the chance to relax and unwind with our families, followed by a long and restful sleep. Through sleep, we are able to relinquish our waking life and retreat to a place of peace and tranquility. It's no wonder that sleep is as important to our bodies as air or water. It allows us to physically and mentally rejuvenate ourselves; without it, we are unable to perform even the most simple of tasks.
So for those of us who suffer from insomnia - a sleep disorder whereby the sufferer is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep - we are denied the very thing our body needs the most. Short bouts of insomnia can be extremely frustrating but are often short lived - the result of a stressful period of time or a physical ailment of some sort. But prolonged insomnia can often result in a host of illnesses - both physical and mental. It can be an enormously stressful cycle.
The causes of insomnia are varied and depend entirely on the sufferer's unique situation. For someone who has infrequently suffered from insomnia but is struggling during a particular period of time, the causes may be environmental. Perhaps there is an exceptionally stressful event taking place at work or financial worry that is keeping you awake. If this is the case, try practicing relaxation techniques prior to bedtime. Meditation, simple yoga moves, stretching, deep breathing, or even a hot bath can help lower your heart rate and relax your muscles - making you much more susceptible to sleep.
If your insomnia is something that you deal with on an ongoing basis, it may be that dietary factors are to blame. Examine the amount of caffeine you ingest in a given day; if you are in the habit of drinking many cups of coffee throughout the day to keep you going, then it should be no surprise that caffeine may also be keeping you awake at night. Limit your caffeine throughout the day and eliminate it altogether later in the day. Avoid heavy meals prior to the bedtime as well.
You may also be surprised to learn that certain over-the-counter - and prescription - drugs list insomnia as one of their side effects. So pay close attention to any medications that you take. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned that a particular medication may be causing insomnia.
Simply isolating different factors that may contribute to your insomnia - and making simple changes accordingly - can put you on the road to a restful night's sleep.