Understanding And Overcoming Insomnia

There are a great many genuine insomniacs, but there are many others who are only imaginary insomniacs. Insomnia is inability to sleep sufficiently soundly or enough hours to recuperate the energy that is lost during the day. There are many people who imagine they do not sleep enough, though there are many who would be better physically, nervously and otherwise if they would get more refreshing sleep.

It is possible to have less sleep than is recognized as normal, for many months or even for years, without any great reduction of general vigor. However, as a rule if the loss of sleep is considerable there will come a breaking point. It is not the number of hours that one spends in the unconsciousness of sleep that is so important, but the depth of sleep - the completeness of the unconsciousness. Much depends also upon one's relaxation during sleep. The more complete this is, the more complete is likely to be the recuperation. A great many people have a general tension throughout the muscular system during sleep - in spite of the general belief that sleep itself induces relaxation even though it may not be complete upon entering sleep.

One of the chief reasons for the ill effects of reduced sleep is the worry resulting from it. This often will do much more harm than even several hours less sleep than is considered normal. One patient whose main subject of conversation during the daytime was his insomnia, was found to be sound asleep when his room was entered at ten o'clock at night, and again (or still) at five o'clock in the morning. Yet upon inquiry the next day as to how much he slept the reply was, "not a wink." It was found that this individual slept several hours a night, and it was the fact that he was awake part of the time and that he dropped off to sleep and awoke without any physical reactions, that he considered that he had not slept at all.

Sleep is as necessary as food and air - yet people often get along with less food and less air and less sleep than they really should have. Failure to sleep sufficiently is indicative of abnormal mental or nervous conditions arising from the high pressure of present-day business and social life - as well as of dietetic errors, lack of exercise and the artificial overstimulating recreations of modern civilization. Sleeplessness occurs in many general and organic diseases, but these do not need consideration here. Usually this is one of the most readily corrected of all "nervous disorders" when the proper dietetic and constitutional treatment is employed.

Treatment, When possible the cause or causes most prominent should be discovered and properly treated. Some way must be discovered to permit the brain to become somewhat drained of blood for the sleeping time, since more or less anemia of the brain is the chief physiological reason for sleep. When one sleeps poorly or none at all there is too much brain circulation. Nervous tension often is responsible for this.

One of the chief needs to induce sleep is the production of a condition of boredom. It is necessary that the skin be free from stimulation, also the senses of sight and hearing. If there is a cold air blowing over one or if one is cold, or if there is a burden of too much bed clothing, or if the night clothing becomes twisted in such a way as to become constricting to certain parts, sleep may be difficult to secure. If there is light within or without the room, or if there are sounds reaching the ear, there may be no sleep in hypersensitive individuals.

One of the best means of aiding in securing early and sound sleep of sufficient number of hours is to secure a wholesome physical fatigue. Often a toxemia or acidosis combined with sluggish circulation resulting from sedentary or inactive life will prevent proper sleep. One should exercise sufficiently during the day that gradually there is an improved tone of the muscular system and of the circulation. This has a quieting effect upon the nervous system, for it tends to normalize it. One must be careful to avoid over-exercising, however. From five to fifteen minutes of moderate exercise just before retiring, with special attention to such movements of the back and neck as assist in inducing a free and regulated circulation, will have a very beneficial effect. By sitting up in bed and clasping the fingers beneath the knees and pulling vigorously several times or until the back muscles are thoroughly stretched and relaxed, one may bring on sleep. A similar movement is sitting up and reaching far beyond the toes or as far toward the toes as possible; or grasping the hands behind the neck and pulling the trunk forward. Another very excellent movement is lying face down with the hands at the small of the back and then arching upward as completely as possible, as if attempting to telescope the spine. One of the simplest exercises, however, is moderately vigorous walking before retiring. One patient who could find no means of securing sleep was induced to walk just before retiring. She found someone who would walk with her and every night they walked at the rate of four miles an hour for from twelve to eighteen miles. This patient developed the ability to sleep soundly. It is not necessary to walk such distances, perhaps, but a walk of four or five miles, if strength and energy permit, will be much better than a walk of a mile or so. One should not stroll, neither should one walk so rapidly as to become tense. A rate of three and a half miles an hour, for the average person, would be satisfactory.

Whatever else is done, it will be necessary for the body to be freed from toxemia. It may not be necessary to fast or to go on a fruit diet, but such a procedure would be beneficial in many cases. It is necessary, however, that an alkaline diet be adopted and continued. The alkaline foods happen to be the foods that supply the important minerals and vitamins - fruits and vegetables of all kinds and milk. Whole-grain cereals should be used also for their laxative effect. One may use small amounts of meat or other strict proteins besides milk, but the diet should be predominately of the alkaline foods mentioned. Constipation must be corrected.

A very good method to secure relief in many cases is the cold wet towel applied around the neck. This may keep one awake, in which case two or three thicknesses of old sheeting should be used instead of the towel, and this wet pack covered with a dry flannel. A girdle pack may be used - old sheeting wrapped around the abdomen after wringing from cold water, and covered with dry flannel.

A neutral tub bath of from ten to twenty minutes duration often induces sleep. Sometimes it is necessary to prolong it for an hour, but it should be taken for as short a time as will prove effective. Often a cold bath, preferably by shower, continued for four or five minutes and taken just before retiring will be helpful, especially if there is only moderate friction, by complete drying. A nude air-bath, especially with deep breathing exercises accompanied with body bending movements will be very relaxing in many cases.

Another very excellent treatment is the cold foot-bath with friction. If a flowing foot bath can be obtained the results usually are still better. Walk up and down in the bath tub containing three or four inches of cold water, or friction one foot with the other, in either case until the feet are pink from the reaction; then dry and retire. The improved circulation at this turn around point usually will draw the blood to the lower extremities or at least away from the brain. A sitz-bath, especially if the foot bath is taken at the same time, usually will have a similar effect. The hips and feet may be in moderately hot water for five or six minutes, and then the hips in a cold bath or sprayed with cold water for one-half minute or so, and then the feet quickly dipped in cold water and all of the immersed parts dried.

Massage, mechanical vibration, osteopathic or other manipulative treatments of the spinal area in most cases will have a sleep-inducing effect.

It is necessary that the mind be calm and free from any worries and perplexities. One cannot take one's problems to bed with him and expect to secure sleep promptly. Aim to keep the mind as near a blank as possible. It often is well to visualize a blank black wall occupying the entire field of vision. It is not advisable to count sheep going through a hole in a fence or to engage in any other mental activities of this nature in order to secure sleep. One cannot woo sleep in this manner nor will one secure good sleep by fighting insomnia. One should have light relaxing thoughts of only the most unimportant, cheerful objects - and pay no attention to whether or not sleep comes. The less one cares whether or not there is sleep the more likely it will come to one, and in sufficient amounts to aid one to keep in normal physical, nervous and mental tone.

My firm belief is: "Finding a cause leads the way to find a cure". So, it is basically important to understand everything from its deepest core. And the best way to do so is: Keep on reading to develop and deepen your understanding on health and wellness.

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