Updated 04/13/2012 05:00 AM
Healthy Living: Insomnia
Nearly everyone at some point has problems sleeping, most often it is temporary. But if you are not careful, you could be headed toward long term sleeping problems. Marcie Fraser reports.
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A bad night of sleep can affect your health - physically and mentally.
"When people lose sleep, they can have a malaise. They can have a slow in their actions. They can have apathy. They can have something that looks just like depression," said Dr. Paul Glovinsky, Clinical Director at St. Peter’s Sleep Center.
Insomnia can begin by a few days of bad sleep. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: If you think you can't sleep, you probably won't. Usually there's a trigger - stress with work, paying bills. One night of worry can spill into several, then most people begin to make adjustment the next day. They drink more coffee, take a nap or pop sleep aid pills, which will increase your risk of long term insomnia.
First step in getting back to sleep once you have awakened: tell yourself no matter what you will be ok, even if you are tired.
A good night of sleep is more possible is you don't watch TV before bed, have the room dark, quiet and cool and avoid computer use an hour before bed. The light interferes with sleep chemicals in the brain.
"The light is intense enough to interfere with our secretion in melatonin which is important for sleep onset," said Dr. Glovinsky.
To get a good night of sleep you should not eating a lot of foods, you should not drink a lot of fluids and certainly you shouldn't be drinking a cocktail to relax yourself. While a cocktail before bed initially will sedate you, it's not long before it wakes you.
"The problem is your body is that your body metabolizes the alcohol quickly and within a few hours you experience a withdrawal from the alcohol you had a few hours earlier and you will wake up," said Dr. Glovinsky.