Insomnia doesn’t just feel like some sort of bizarre torture while you’re experiencing it—it can also have long-term health consequences, upping risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania found people with ‘sleep disturbances’ at least three nights per week were 35% more likely to be obese, 54% more likely to have diabetes, 98% more likely to have heart disease and 80% more likely to have had a heart attack. A 2002 study found people with chronic insomnia were five times more likely to develop anxiety or depression and more than twice as likely to have heart failure. Chronic insomnia is defined as insomnia that lasts for a month or more. But many of us without chronic insomnia still experience bouts of sleeplessness now and then—and I’m curious how you folks deal with it.
Personally, I’ve become a fan of melatonin supplements (melatonin is a sleep hormone we all produce naturally; it’s also sold in synthetic, supplement form as a sleep aid). Before that, it was kava kava drops in water or hot tea; and before that, I was really (like, really, too) fond of Nyquil. I’ve never tried prescription sleep aids, but those have grown quite popular with Americans, as have over-the-counter sleeping pills. Sleep experts often recommend making simple environmental changes, like hanging drapes on bedroom windows to block out light or wearing a sleep mask; or behavioral changes, like no coffee after a certain time or no screens an hour before bed. Exercise and yoga, may provide some relief to chronic insomniacs. And some people swear by more cerebral cures: Mediation, mindfulness, therapy, or even counting sheep.
What helps you fight sleepless nights? Take our poll, or tells us more in the comments.
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