Insomnia or habitual sleeplessness can cause mild personality changes as well as a decrease in a person’s overall productivity and performance. It can even have adverse effects on personal relationships. More importantly, 50 % of chronic insomnia is often a symptom of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and stress. Other medical conditions that cause chronic insomnia are arthritis, asthma, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, heart disease, etc. Other possible reasons for insomnia could be caffeine intake, nutritional deficiencies (calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper), antidepressants, antiseizure medication, thyroid hormone replacement drugs, and many other pharmaceutical drugs as well as over-the-counter medications.The list of reasons or medical conditions that can contribute to insomnia can go on and on. There are two major considerations if insomnia becomes a chronic situation. One question to ask yourself is what medications are you taking? You can talk to your doctor or neighborhood pharmacist about what medications could be keeping you up at night and if there are any alternative medications that may not have the same affect on you. If medications are not the cause of your insomnia then the second consideration would be what is the underlying condition? Schedule an appointment with your doctor and be prepared to tell him or her of any other symptoms developing such as depression, anxiety, new aches and pains, or anything out of the ordinary that you have noticed. Again, it is very important to tell your doctor all of your symptoms in order for him or her to discover the underlying condition.
Don’t let insomnia change who you are, what you are capable of or worse, don’t ignore this symptom until the true medical condition rears its ugly head. Be proactive and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Some recommendations to avoid insomnia are as follows:
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco
- Avoid caffeine containing drinks after lunch time
- Avoid heavy meals 3 hours before bedtime, specifically foods like bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, tomatoes, etc.
- Exercise regularly, but not just before bedtime
- Take a hot bath an hour or two before bedtime
- Take 5 milligrams of melatonin one hour before bed
- Take 5-Hydroxy L-tryptophan (5HTP)
These suggestions will help you to avoid having sleep problems, however, it is very important to determine the root cause. Also, be cautious of taking melatonin for long periods of time. There have been recent studies that excess use of melatonin (more than occasional use) can stop the body’s own production of this necessary hormone.