Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning; chronic insomnia is when this occurs for at least three nights per week for three months.
It is more common than you might imagine. Most of us experience some intermittent sleep problems at some point in our lives; but beyond this around a third of people in the Canada have episodes of insomnia, more commonly women and older people.
It can be caused by a number of factors, notably stress and anxiety, depression, some medications, illness, and alcohol or drug abuse. While most of us know that lack of sleep can cause us to be less with it, more irritable, and lacking in energy, less is known about the long-term health effects of not getting enough sleep over a longer period of time. Recent studies show that chronic insomnia is connected to a host of the most serious chronic diseases.
A 40-year study by the University of Arizona examining the long-term effects of sleepless nights was recently published in the American Journal of Medicine. The conclusion was that persistent insomnia defined as for six years or more - was linked to a 58 per cent increased risk of death. It was also linked to higher levels of inflammation in the blood (measured by a bio marker in blood called C-reactive protein), which is linked to many serious chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, dementia, and depression. This is not the first time that chronic insomnia has been linked with mortality but it is the first time that the underlying mechanism has been suggested.
What can you do?
If you think you may be suffering from insomnia dont let it go undiagnosed or unattended. Most medications for chronic insomnia are ineffective but it is possible to make lifestyle changes that will improve your chances of regularly getting a good nights sleep.
Some of these include:
Meditation or other relaxation techniques
Keeping consistent bed times and wake up times
Removing all TVs and phones from the room when you sleep
Using thicker curtains, or an eye mask and earplugs to so that you are not awoken by light or noise
Avoiding caffeine later in the day
Avoiding eating heavy meals late at night
Getting enough exercise
and most importantly regular chiropractic adjustments!
As Chiropractic adjustments improve blood flow throughout your nervous system, it can help reduce the amount of stress on your body which maybe out of alignment and balance. Thus allowing you to get a better nights rest and improve your overall sleeping habits. Many patients rave about how much better they sleep at night since getting their spine adjusted regularly, which also helps improve their day to day life!
If you suspect that you may have insomnia, try keeping a sleep diary for a month before you schedule an appointment to see me because this will help me to understand the cause of your problem better. This should detail your late night routine, what time you get to sleep, wake up times, how you feel in the morning and throughout the day etc. This will help diagnose why you do have insomnia and that will be the first step to doing something about it.