Why can’t you sleep? | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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Why can’t you sleep?

Lack of sleep may have several causes — medical, mental or psychological. And most of them can be rectified in simple ways, without a doctor’s help. Here are some of the most common glitches that may be depriving you of a sound snooze.

health and fitness Updated: May 15, 2012 14:51 IST
Kavita Devgan

Lack of sleep may have several causes — medical, mental or psychological. And most of them can be rectified in simple ways, without a doctor’s help. Here are some of the most common glitches that may be depriving you of a sound snooze.

Full bladder
A full bladder will not let you sleep soundly at all as you will get up to go to the loo again and again. “A good thumb rule is to drink at least 2/3rds of your water in the first quarter of the day, 1/3rd in the afternoon and as little as possible from late evening,” says Dr Priti Khatu, clinical psychologist at Trinity Sunrise Healthcare Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, who treats a lot of people with insomnia.

“Even alcohol too close to bedtime can lead to problems like sleep apnea, snoring, increased acidity, acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and shorten your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, that is most restful so steer clear,” she adds.

Too much worrying
Sleep comes when your brain begins to filter out external stimuli and goes into the rest mode, which is why stress and anxiety can be very disruptive to sleep.

“If your mind is racing at night, make a conscious effort to slow down and relax. Develop sleep rituals — listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of warm milk or chamomile tea, and do relaxation and breathing exercises,” advises Dr Khatu.

Wrong eating habits
Do you eat very little all day and gorge at dinner? Stop, as this causes the body systems/organs (digestive particularly) to get revved up at night. To ensure that the body goes into a relaxed mode, make sure you eat two hours before sleeping.

“And avoid caffeine late in the second half of the day (such as strong coffee late at night, or cola and ‘energy’ drinks) as they block sleep-inducing chemicals in the body,” says Dr Manoj Hunnur, neurologist, Trinity Sunrise Healthcare Pvt Ltd.

Make friends with sun
“The hormone melatonin helps set our sleep cycle by regulating the body temperature clock, and sunlight triggers a positive reaction in the brain receptors of this hormone. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try this: expose yourself to 30 minutes of sunlight early in the morning or towards late evening when the sun is not strong enough to cause damage,” says Dr Khatu.

Exercise at the wrong time
“Exercising is great for a good night’s sleep, but try to do it during the day as it pumps up endorphins in the body and raises the body temperature, which can keep you awake,” explains Dr Hunnur.

Some other reasons

* Nasal congestion: Running nose, nasal blocks, bronchitis and asthma.
* Medical reasons: Allergies, congestion, coughing, arthritis, back pain or other pains, hypothyroidism; even constipation and indigestion.
* Certain medicines: If you have recently been prescribed a medicine, check with your doctor if you are unable to sleep.