The following is a guest post by Steven Sanders:
We can probably all attest to suffering a sleepless night at one point in our lives…
You find yourself laying in the dark silence for hours on end, even with your eyes closed, counting sheep just hoping that rest will find you soon. But, it seems to never come.
While most of us experience this due to something common, acute, and short-lived, like stress or anxiety, other people experience this feeling regularly due to various sleep disorders. A few common sleep disorders include restless legs syndrome, insomnia, and sleep apnea.
While a common method of treatment for sleep disorders is sleeping medication, there are other alternative therapies that might offer some relief as well:
You might find that tucking yourself in under all your blankets is soothing as it provides you warmth and a feeling of security and comfort… However, with a sleeping disorder, you might find that you rarely experience this which makes it hard for you to relax. Or, you might experience this but just not strongly enough to promote sleep. But, there are specialized blankets which are actually designed to further promote these positive feelings and help fight sleep disorders.
A weighted anxiety blanket helps promote sleep by adding some pressure to your body, which encourages your body to relax and allows you to fall asleep. You simply cover up and sleep with this blanket just like you would your normal comforter. By stimulating the deep pressure touch receptors throughout your body, a weighted blanket will give you even more of a feeling of security, which also helps encourage your body to allow you to drift off to dreamland.
As a child, my mom would always give me chamomile tea at night if I was a little wound up and it helped me relax. I always assumed it was just the warmth of the tea that calmed me, however, I have recently learned that chamomile is actually a herb commonly used for treating insomnia. Another herb that can be used to help with fighting off sleeping disorders is the root of valerian. Some studies suggest that this particular root aids with the onset of sleep and with sleep maintenance.
Aside from stress and anxiety, increased muscle tension and intrusive thoughts also greatly interfere with sleep. If your muscles are tense, you might find yourself never truly reaching that point of relaxation. You might struggle with getting comfortable, as well. But, this is where meditation comes in…
Meditation teaches you how to control the mind and really become aware of your body. Through breathing techniques and moments of silence and reflection, you will find that you are better able to teach your mind how to calm down. Using these techniques, even those suffering from insomnia might be able to learn how to wind their body and minds down.
Even in those without sleeping disorders, exercise has been shown to help deepen sleep in individuals – young and old. But, it also works well in those who do have a sleeping disorder. Regular exercise not only helps promote a good night’s sleep but it also helps promote a deeper sleep, leaving you waking up much more rested than normal. It can even be low-to-moderate exercise such as yoga. Through exercise, you can find some relief from stress and anxiety – both of which can hinder your ability to fall asleep at night. It can also help tire you and get rid of extra energy which also encourages your body to rest.
If you find yourself suffering from a sleeping disorder, try one or a few of these remedies to help encourage your body to drift off to sleep. By getting a good night’s sleep, you will find yourself feeling more rested, more alert, and just healthier overall.
Editor’s note: I would also include techniques to deal with obstructive snoring. This is not the same disorder as sleep apnea, which would engender an entire blog in itself. Obstructive snoring is usually related to jaw size (small), soft palate (long), and overbite, all of which may lead to obstructive snoring. This is characterized by relaxing of the oral and facial muscles during sleep, resulting in loud snoring and partial and sometimes intermittent complete obstruction of the airway, which disturbs sleep and may cause awakening every few minutes. The most effective treatment for this disorder is a dental device that looks similar to a mouth guard for grinding, but thrusts the mandible forward (in an adjustable way) relative to the maxilla in order to pull the back of the tongue away from the pharyngeal portion of the airway. The fitted device tends to work better than those you can purchase over the internet, but is more expensive. A restful night’s sleep for both you and your partner is often worth it. The Fickle Finger