Like food, air and water, our bodies require regular quantities of sleep. A good night of rest will recharge your brain, strengthen your immune system and regenerate your body. However, sleep disorders and insomnia has become a major epidemic in our society. Bettersleepforlife.com provides some disturbing U.S. statistics:
- More than 30% of the population suffers from insomnia.
- Approximately 10 million people in the U.S. use prescription sleep aids.
- People who suffer from sleep deprivation are 27% more likely to become overweight or obese.
- A National Sleep Foundation Poll shows that 60% of people have driven while feeling sleepy (and 37% admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel) in the past year.
Moreover, problems for individuals grow into societal issues as well:
- The Institute of Medicine estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually on medical costs that are directly related to sleep disorders.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that 100,000 vehicle accidents occur annually drowsy driving. An estimated 1,500 die each year in these collisions.
- Employers spend approximately $3,200 more in health care costs on employees with sleep problems than for those who sleep well.
- According to the US Surgeon General, insomnia costs the U.S. Government more than $15 billion per year in health care costs.
- Statistics also show that US industry loses about $150 billion each year because of sleep deprived workers. This takes into account absenteeism and lost productivity.
Coping with insomnia is a struggle that many of us face. Here are some simple tips to help cure your insomnia:
1. Avoid sleep deprivers.
I’m very chemically sensitive. I notice when I drink fully caffeinated coffee and other stimulants, I get more nervous and edgy and this tends to disturb my sleep. Similarly, alcohol has a similar effect with my sleep. I may fall asleep quicker but I’ll wake up unable to quickly fall back to sleep. Observe the changes in your body with various chemicals including heavy meals and sugar. Avoid these substances for awhile to see if you benefit from the change.
2. Create a peaceful sleep haven.
Since I’m very sensitive and also wake up easily, I find that the slightest noise or light from the window will waken me. Additionally, I allow my dog to sleep in the bed, which adds to the disturbance. My husband tends to have a late night schedule so I need to use ear plugs and an eye patch to block out disturbances. I should also make the dog sleep in his own bed, but unfortunately I’m a sucker and cannot kick him out. Simple things like stuffy air can also create an unpleasant environment. Using an air purifier can help.
3. Breathe and meditate.
The power of the breath and mediation is tremendous. But like anything, it takes practice. The first time you sit in silence, close your eyes and focus on the breath. You’ll probably find your mind rebelling, telling yourself how stupid it is. Try it for five minutes every night, attempting to work towards 10 to 15 minutes a night. Start out by sitting in a comfortable chair or cross-legged seated position in a quiet room without disturbances. Close your eyes and focus on the breath. Notice the air flowing in and out of your nose. You can add a mantra like repeating the word, “peace” or “love” in your mind. If other thoughts enter, watch them enter and fade like a river flows and come back to the breath and your mantra. Give it a few months and take note of the difference. Over time you’ll feel the benefits.
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