What is sleeplessness and is it serious

Sleeplessness as defined in the dictionary is just another word that is often used for occasional insomnia. Occasional sleeplessness refers to the occasional nights when a person has problems falling asleep, or tosses and turns all night long. This lack of quality sleep can affect the person the next day with daytime drowsiness, trouble concentrating and the feeling of just not being refreshed or rested — feeling as if you need a nap.

Human beings and other animals as well as plants, have internal biological rhythms, known as circadian rhythms. These rhythms are controlled by a biological clock and work on a daily time scale. This biological clock effects body temperature, alertness, appetite, hormone release; but most importantly, it also affects the timing of sleep. Anything that disrupts this timing can give a person a night of sleeplessness or restless sleep. Too much caffeine during the day, smoking, minor pain, being too hot or cold – all of these things can temporarily cause sleeplessness. Jet lag is often the cause of sleeplessness for many business people as well as worrying over a problem from work or home.

One or two nights of sleeplessness, can make you feel fatigued and unable to concentrate the next day. But please realize that as long as sleeplessness is not an every night occurrence, it really is not the type of insomnia that can cause serious problems. Also, a life-threatening health problem is rarely the cause of short term problems with sleep. However, because insomnia is a symptom of many illnesses and medical problems, it is advised that if this type of insomnia continues for 2 weeks, a person should consult their doctor.

Here are several tips that can help with sleeplessness. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday. Don’t eat a heavy late meal right before lights out. Also, don’t do strenuous exercising during the evening hours as exercise “wakes” the body up.

Worrying or stress should be turned off at bedtime. A good tip for doing that can be to do a visualization exercise such as the following: If you are a person who works on a computer, visualize typing your problems or the cause of your stress into the computer, then save the problems on the hard drive, just as if it were a document. Then visualize turning the computer off for the night. Sounds silly — but it works!

Among people with healthy circadian clocks, there are “morning people” who prefer to sleep and wake early, “night owls” who prefer to sleep and wake at late times, and also every type in between. But whether they are morning or night people — persons with normal internal clocks can wake in time for what they need to do in the morning, and fall asleep at night in time to get enough sleep before having to get up.

Sleeplessness is most often just a short-lived experience, with one or two nights of sleeplessness, and then a person returns to normal sleep. But please remember, if sleeplessness continues for more than 2 weeks — make an appointment to see your doctor.

Copyright © 2008