From the diary of an insomniac - II

Samarjit Kambam *

This piece is dedicated to all the insomniacs of the world. Myself, who was once an insomniac for a pretty long duration can feel the vibration of the pain and sufferings faced by the insomniacs. Insomniacs live in a world of dystopia. He carries with himincoherentness,feeling of impairment,fatigue,irritation, attention deficit, stress, poor immune system, loss of appetite and a host of negative state of mind and body which are highly detrimental to the health and well-being of a person.

Nobody wants to be an insomniac. As long as you are a person who sleep normally, the term ‘insomnia’ may seem dull and apathetic to you. You’ll have the notion that going to sleep is so simple.But to those suffering from insomnia, going to sleep is a herculean task, like trying to see the dark side of the moon. To him, a sound sleep becomes the most expensive thing in the world, a state which is of paramount value than anything else in the world.

The reasons for insomnia may vary viz, heredity, after effect of substance and drug abuse, endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism, lack of physical activity, depression, unhealthy lifestyle and other biological factors.

So far, there’s no medicationfor insomnia. Course, there are prescription and over the counter drugs which come in the form of sleeping pills that induce sleep but are not the panacea for insomnia. Besides, sleeping pills are not sustainable in the long run.

There’s a light year’s difference between natural sleep and induced sleep. As induced sleep is forcefully triggered by the chemicals of the drug, one gets habituated to the sleeping pills. One will get to sleep as long as he consumes it but will be back to square one once he stops taking it even heightening the intensity of insomnia in the long term.

In fact, a long term user of sleeping pills gets addicted to sedatives due to physical dependency thereby posing a great threat to the health with its side effects which may come in many forms.Some of them have potentially harmful side effects and can even be life threatening if misused.

So sedatives are usually prescribed by doctors for short durations. The only alternative is cognitive behavioural therapy. However, everybody hasn’t got the privilege to be attended by a cognitive behavioural therapist. A person living in a remote area may not have access to such a therapist. Even if a person is accessible to such a therapist, there may be constraints of time. That’s the reason why people having trouble with sleeping usually pop sleeping pills as it is more convenient and time saving.

After thoroughly hobnobbing with insomnia for a long time I have decided to share my experiences on how to curtail it; at least upto a certain degree. I have jotted down some tips below which I hope may be of help even though it is a miniscule one to all those insomniacs out there:-

1) Thyroid Function Test should be an obligation for the insomniacs. Though rare, if one has hyperthyroidism there will hardly be any preferred choices left to fight insomnia other than taking the medication as prescribed by the doctor.

2) Fiddling with smartphone, laptop, PC and watching TV before going to bed should be avoided at all cost by one having trouble going to sleep as the sensory organs are hard-pressed as we get stranded in front of such electronic items. The situation only worsens as one keeps on engaging with them and sleeping gets allthe more dearer.

3) Have a regular bedtime routine andgoing to bed early preferably before 10 p.m. by switching off all devices and keeping your room as dark as a black hole is a healthy practice in the fight against insomnia.

4) Eat a well-balanced meal no less than 2 hours before bedtime. Avoid coffee, cigarettes and other tobacco products prior to going to bed as they contain caffeine and nicotine which will keep you in an induced state of alertness thereby robbing you of your sleep.

5) Everybody skirmishes with stress, tension, anxiety and depression in this hectic world, however, trying to suppress or avoid them as much as possible comes as a handy tool for the insomniacs. If under long term depression, consulting a physicianand taking the prescribed anti-depressant for short term with tapering dose is usually considered a feasible solution.

6) Taking a warm bath before going to bed gives a soothing feel to the body and acts as catalyst in going to sleep faster.Taking a warm glass of milk before going to bed also helps upto a certain extent.

7) Nowadays, meditation is considered a cliché in warding off stress and tension and attaining a relaxed, rejuvenated, calm and composed mind. But the more we try to meditate, the more our mind delves into uncontrolled haywire thoughts. For those of us who find meditation a jumbo task, simply lying on the bed and taking long deep breaths for a few minutes comes as a handy tool in going to a slumber quicker because it is easier to ward off random and unwanted thoughts while taking deep breaths.

8) Stiffness of the body acts as a hurdle when trying to go to sleep. While lying on the bed, keeping the whole body completely relaxed with the perception that our body is sucked in the bed like a piece of iron rod being pulled by a big magnet also acts as a sleep booster.If you have the opportunity, getting your body a gentle massage by someone will keep your body muscles relaxed which helps a lot in getting to sleep. Sprinklinga few drops of lavender oil on the pillow and relishing its smell further heightens sleep.

9) Sedentary work involving sitting in front of a PC or a laptop for the whole day combined with unhealthy lifestyle such as eating unhealthy food, misusing of drugs, substance abuse and lack of physical activity paves the path to sleepless nights and sows the seed to becoming an insomniac. Holding tight to a schedule of physical exercise in the morning such as jogging, free hand exercises involving push-ups for at least 30 minutes daily or 5 to 6 times a week is the holy-grail to fight insomnia.

Practicing yoga which is considered as a dull kind of exercise carried out by the snobbish kind turns out to be unbelievably good in battling insomnia.However, carrying out physical exercises in the evening be best avoided as one remains active throughoutthe night resulting in wakefulness.

10) Changing the mind-set by deciding to start treating night-time sleep as something to look forward to and revel in rather than dread makes a world of difference.

Wishing you guys a sound sleep every night.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at kambamsamarjit0(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 02, 2019.

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