Many people experience occasional bouts of sleeplessness, especially during times of uncertainty or stress. Insomnia may also be a side effect of illness or pain, as well as a result of mental over-stimulation or consuming certain foods. Whatever the root cause, occasional sleeplessness can be fought in a number of different ways, from sleep medications to relaxation exercises to a change in sleeping habits. A lack of restful sleep can have serious effects on a person's overall well being, so it is important to find a relaxation method that works.
One way to fight sleeplessness is to restrict the intake of certain foods and beverages before bedtime. Beverages containing caffeine, ginseng, taurine or other stimulants should not be consumed within a few hours of a regular bedtime. It takes time for these stimulants to work their way through the body, and it is difficult to fully relax with an elevated heart rate. Heavy meals should also be avoided within a few hours of bedtime, since the digestive process will not have time to work completely before the body shuts down for sleep. The result would be indigestion, which in turn would trigger sleeplessness.
Reducing mental and physical stimulation before bedtime is another way to fight sleeplessness. Physical exercise is generally a good idea for destressing, but not within an hour of bedtime. Endorphins released during exercise can act as natural stimulants, and the body may not slow down enough to allow for restful sleep. Mental stimulation such as television, computer work, video games or reading can also trigger sleeplessness if performed too close to bedtime. Allowing at least an hour between mental exercise and bedtime should help fight sleeplessness.
Some people find that listening to quiet music or an audio book helps them relax before bedtime. Others will find some sort of noise generator such as a small fan or commercial white noise machine to counteract the effects of total silence. Checking other rooms for intrusive noises like dripping faucets or rattling shutters can also help a person avoid sleeplessness. Investing in room darkening curtains can also help a person fall asleep during daylight hours.
Sometimes a person may experience a bout of sleeplessness because of an unresolved conflict or other stressful experience during the day. There may also be some anxiety about an upcoming event as well. Finding some sort of resolution to a stressful situation before going to bed could help a person avoid insomnia. Going to bed in an angry or anxious state of mind is rarely synonymous with quality sleep.
There are also over-the-counter sleep aids which help to combat occasional sleeplessness. Taking the recommended dosage of these medications within an hour of bedtime should help a person get restful sleep. The effect of most sleep aids is similar to taking a nighttime cold medicine or cough syrup. There may be a period of grogginess, followed by a deep sleep lasting several hours. There are also natural sleep aids which use a combination of herbs and amino acids to trigger sleep.
Sometimes the key to fighting sleeplessness is not to fight it at all. Different people run on different sleep cycles, so it may help to change a bedtime to match a specific cycle. Instead of going to bed at a prescribed hour because of a work or school schedule, some people might benefit from going to bed when their bodies feel ready for sleep. This could mean going to bed several hours earlier or later than usual, but many people experience sleeplessness simply because their bodies have not actually started their natural sleep cycles.