There is a well-known joke that people spend about 30% of their lives in a dream, and they dream of sleeping the rest of the time. And there is a lot of truth in this joke. Such a luxury as full-fledged healthy sleep is available only to a few, everyone else has limited sleep time due to work or life circumstances, which significantly affects the overall health and stress level of the body. A large percentage of people take medication to combat insomnia. What do you need to improve sleep?
The role of healthy sleep for health
Many people believe that one or two sleepless nights will not affect their well-being and health in any way. However, not everyone succeeds in getting a good night’s sleep after such nights. It is important to know: in order to eliminate lack of sleep after a night shift or insomnia at night, to eliminate their negative impact on the body, you need at least two full nights of sound sleep. If sleep is constantly disturbed, it threatens with significant health problems that form as fatigue accumulates. Night sleep, and sometimes also daytime rest, is needed in order to accumulate the energy that is needed during the wakefulness period. In addition, during the time a person sleeps, the nervous system is restructured. The peripheral nerves also rest, although they do not completely stop their work.
If the sleep process is disturbed: stress, memory, risk of pathologies
If the processes of falling asleep are disturbed, if night sleep is disturbed in terms of its quantity or quality, the general condition and functioning of the nervous system suffers. First of all, working capacity decreases, weakness and fatigue are felt, attention is disturbed and short-term memory worsens. The work of hormones changes, the number of those responsible for stress increases. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality has been proven to increase the risk of strokes or heart attacks, again due to a person being under constant stress. There are people who, with a short sleep, can sleep well — they risk their health less than those who sleep both little and badly. In this case, a person experiences severe stress, he is constantly tired, his immunity decreases, and depression can form. To eliminate all these phenomena, it is necessary not only to sleep once, but also to normalize sleep for the rest of the time.
How to determine normal sleep time?
Everyone knows roughly how much sleep they need to feel alert and rested. However, the standardized sleep time of 8 hours is not suitable for all of the people, since in many respects the duration of sleep depends on its quality and the physiological characteristics of metabolism. There are quite healthy people who need no more than 5–6 hours for a good rest, while none of their body systems suffer. Others, in order to fully rest and recover, require at least 9–10 hours of sleep, and this is also quite normal. Therefore, before taking medications that affect sleep, you just need to fully relax and get enough sleep. It’s also possible that getting up early and going to bed late doesn’t suit your biorhythms.
When can you talk about insomnia?
From the point of view of medicine, the term insomnia is not entirely correct, because there are no people who do not sleep at all, while this concept is literally translated that way. Often people simply do not remember their dream, even if it was bad, and it seems to them that they did not sleep at all at night. Therefore, the most correct term for sleep disorders would be insomnia, sleep deprivation. Such a chronic condition, in which the time of sleep is significantly reduced, as well as its quality, can be acquired fairly quickly. If a person sleeps poorly for literally two to three weeks, this leads to insomnia. If sleep is disturbed for several days in a row, you should not start the problem, you need to contact a neurologist or sleep specialist. During this period, fairly easy ways to normalize sleep can help — taking sedatives or a short course of sleeping pills.
If safe medications to normalize sleep?
For a long time, drugs belonging to the group of barbiturates or benzodiazepines have been used as sleeping pills. Although they have a positive effect on sleep, they have many side effects and contraindications, restrictions on admission, and therefore are often replaced by safer means. So, now more and more often used drugs belonging to the group of Z‑drugs. They are acceptable for occasional use in healthy people. For example, if there is an important meeting or exam, and because of stress, sleep does not go, taking barbiturates or benzodiazepines will lead to lethargy and weakness in the morning. The use of this group of drugs gives a good rest and cheerfulness the next day. Naturally, we are talking about a one-time use of these drugs, and not a systematic one, since they are not without drawbacks and side effects. But compared to the drugs of previous generations, they are much better.
If sleep problems have become chronic, it is important not to take medication, but to consult a doctor to find out the true cause of sleep disorders. Often this is facilitated by overwork, disruption of chronobiological rhythms, constant stress, depression, or even diseases. Therefore, taking a medicine instead of a full-fledged treatment will not give anything good. In addition, it will form the body’s addiction to the drug, which will be an even greater problem for the patient.
There are a number of rules that will help improve sleep a little without pills. These include refusal to eat at night, immediately before bedtime; taking a warm or cool shower before going to bed; thorough ventilation of the bedroom, and if it is not cold outside — sleep with an open window; creating darkness and silence in the room where a person sleeps. Before going to bed, you need to give up negative emotions, do something calm and relaxing, but not watching bloody action movies and shocking news. To sleep well, it is important to observe the daily routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time.