People vary in how much sleep they need. Some require six or fewer hours of sleep, some eight or more.
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Importantly, it is the uninterrupted part that has more recently been called into question. Historians have discovered that our ancestors, as recently as a few centuries ago, had what is called segmented sleep: What did they do during the waking period? They read, had sex , and even socialized with their neighbors. Sleep researchers who have studied participants in controlled, dark environments found that without clocks or light, most people slept in just such a segmented sleep pattern. So waking up for a while in the middle of the night may be normal. Also, if you do wake up, you can use that time to relax, or do something constructive or interesting, and then return to bed.
Here is another thought: Perhaps we can use a period of wakefulness to our advantage, and help overcome chronic insomnia. This involves cognitive reframing. Instead of using it to worry about your lack of sleep and how it might affect you the next day, try to see it as beneficial.
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If you wake up worrying about your job, or the things you have to do, or even your health, make a mental to-do list or get up and write one out. Use your wakefulness to make new plans or to inspire you. Again, you can make a mental or a physical to-do list of your new endeavor. Use your wakefulness to reflect on the good things in your life: Reminisce about old times, bask in your accomplishments, be thankful for good friends and good times — these are thoughts that will trigger positive emotions, rather than the negative emotions of worrying about lack of sleep.
And try to get a more regular night's sleep the next night.
What's Really Causing Your Sleepless Nights? | HuffPost
Sleep experts also suggest sticking to routine bedtime and waking times and to vary them as little as possible. The key now is how you think about it. Stay positive, hopeful, and productive with those mid-night waking periods, as our ancestors did. More on segmented sleep here. Follow me on Twitter: We often forget about this crucial element in developing leaders.
Back Find a Therapist. Staying well hydrated during the day may help prevent nighttime leg cramps from occurring, along with stretching your legs, especially your calves, just before going to bed. Some people find it helpful to add more potassium, calcium and magnesium to their diets, as deficiencies in these minerals can cause muscle cramping. You're Asleep by 8 PM and Up at 4 in the Morning Advanced sleep phase syndrome is characterized by the inability to stay awake until your desired bedtime and being unable to remain sleeping until your desired wake time in the morning.
What's Really Causing Your Sleepless Nights?
If you fall asleep earlier in the evening than you would like and wake up earlier in the morning than you wish and aren't able to fall back asleep, then you may have advanced sleep phase syndrome. Since many people with this sleep problem remain in bed, trying to fall back asleep, it can lead to insomnia. Instead, it's important to seek the advice of a sleep specialist who can guide you on the best way to reset your biological clock, such as exposure to bright light in the evening hours and engaging in stimulating activities at nighttime in order to advance your biological clock.
You Aren't Sleepy until 3 or 4 in the morning Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a sleep pattern opposite that of advanced sleep phase syndrome: You are unable to fall asleep until very late and have trouble waking up at the desired time in the morning.
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People with delayed sleep phase syndrome usually complain of trouble falling asleep at night and problems waking up in time for school or work. Exposure to bright light in the mornings, while limiting exposure to light in the late afternoon and evening hours, may help to reset your clock. Sleeping in on the weekends can make the problem worse because it reinforces the delayed sleep pattern.
What Causes Sleeping Difficulties?
You Stop Breathing During Your Sleep Obstructive sleep apnea OSA is defined as repeated episodes of complete obstruction of the upper airway apnea or partial obstruction hypopnea during sleep, which causes you to stop breathing or have more shallow breathing during sleep. Although snoring and daytime sleepiness are the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, some people with OSA report having insomnia.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious disease and should be treated. Although not always the case, OSA often occurs in people who are overweight, so weight loss may reduce your likelihood for obstructive sleep apnea.
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People with OSA should avoid alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, as it may worsen the condition. Another sleep disorder which causes a person to repeatedly stop breathing during sleep is called central sleep apnea and is due to a lack of respiratory effort.
Central sleep apnea is a lot less common than obstructive sleep apnea and is often associated with heart failure or conditions that affect the nervous system. While obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a collapse in the upper airway, central sleep apnea is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
People with central sleep apnea often report sleep maintenance insomnia, or difficulty staying asleep. Treatment for central sleep apnea includes treating the underlying medical cause, using supplemental oxygen or positive airway pressure devices during sleep, or taking medication. Insomnia is often related to depression or anxiety. People with depression may have early morning awakenings and spend more time lying in bed than is needed, thus causing a worsening of insomnia. Symptoms of depression include sadness, feelings of guilt, poor attention and concentration, decreased libido, increased crying, lack of desire to do things that are enjoyable and lack of pleasure when doing things that you used to enjoy.
If you have depressive symptoms, it's important to discuss them with a healthcare professional in order to find the treatment that's right for you. Similarly, if you spend many hours during the day worrying or feeling nervous and stressed, then anxiety may be taking a toll on your life.
Anxiety may cause trouble falling asleep, especially when it's difficult for you to relax and you experience racing thoughts or worries at bedtime. There are many factors that can affect your sleep, so it's essential to figure out what's really causing your sleepless nights. If you're unsure what could be causing your insomnia, start by consulting with a sleep specialist who can help you figure out the source of your sleep problem and allow you to begin the process of getting a better night's sleep.