Sleeping Pills Alone can't do the Job
  Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Sleeping problems afflict about twenty to forty percent adults. Out of seventy million sleep sufferers, twenty million have "sleep apnea," in which a person stops breathing, literally, hundreds of time.  The remaining fifty million sleep sufferers have a large variety of reasons why they can't sleep.
First check if you need a sleep lab evaluation.  A sleep lab evaluation is advised for the following problems: frequent snoring, sleep walking, night screaming, "dropping off" while driving, or "restless leg syndrome."  Frequent mumbling, moaning, grunting, twitching of legs, jerks, and excessive movements during sleep also indicate there may be an underlying sleep disorder requiring sleep lab evaluation. However, a very large number of people have sleep problems due to man-made causes such as, life style problem, shift work, excessive stress or, excessive use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. 

We are sleeping less as a nation.  Before 1910, the year Edison invented the light bulb, people, on average, slept about ten hours a day.  Now, we sleep about seven hours a day.  Apes and monkeys sleep ten hours or more a day.  We may have been cheated about two hours of sleep each night.  Ninety-five percent of people cannot function well on less than six and half-hours of sleep. Twenty million people work on the night shift.  The night shift disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle.  It is worse if the shift work changes frequently so a worker can never get used to one sleep pattern.   

Sleeping pills alone can't give us good nights sleep forever.  To have a habitual pattern of a good nights sleep, follow good sleep habits and eliminate bad ones.  Sleep researchers say that "sleep hygiene" is the answer for sleep problems, barring the cases where there is an underlying sleep disorder.  Sleep hygiene is all about good sleep habits.  .      

Reduce caffeine, alcohol, smoking, or any other recreational drugs.  If your room is noisy, create a noise screen by using fan, air conditioner, or music.  Hide the alarm clock, so you can hear it but not see.  Set the alarm and wake up the same time everyday.
Turn off the lights in the room when you sleep.  If you must have a light, cover your eyes.  
Get out of bed, exactly the same time, all seven days of the week.

Set the room temperature between 68 to 75 degrees.  Do not stay in bed awake for more than 30 minutes. Schedule some physical activities during the daytime.  Do light aerobic exercises once or twice during the day.  Never TRY, or worse, try harder to sleep.  If you can't sleep, get out of bed and do something, for example, a crossword puzzle     

Accept your insomnia without getting upset or worrying. Give yourself downtime and unwind.  Avoid doing things at bedtime, which make you hyper or excited. Soothe yourself with a gentle massage, warm bath, or soothing music. Do effortless deep breathing by breathing from your abdomen.  Do gentle stretching.  Relax the whole body and the mind. Don't use lack of sleep as an excuse, e.g. for being ill-tempered, or not meeting deadlines at work.  

Go to bed only when you are sleepy, but still wake up at the fixed hour. Use bed only for sleeping, and not for eating, reading, or watching TV.  If you must take a daytime nap, take it for fifteen minutes or less and limit it to one nap a day.  Keep yourself active during the day and perform at least one light physical activity.  

Sleep is the harvest of the day's labor.  What happens in the night depends on what you do during the daytime.  Manage your tension through out the day.  If you stay angry and agitated during the day, you may be disappointed in the quality of sleep you get in the night.  By the end of the day, your emotional bank balance need to show in plus, that is, after adding up the earnings of positive emotions and deducting expenses incurred on the negative emotions.  You may then be awarded the privilege of staying in the sleep chambers and following your dreams.     

Return to Self Help

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications

Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor