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Posted November. 13, 2006 07:00,   


Mr. Kim, a 41 year-old office worker, has trouble sleeping when he is stressed out. He does virtually everything to save himself from insomnia. He tries sleeping pills, reads boring books, and sometimes even smothers himself under the blankets to force sleep. He has even tried exercising excessively to make himself drowsy.

The sleeping pills had some effect at first, but he did not like this method because had had to keep on increasing his dosage and he felt numb in the morning. The other methods did not help.

Some Remedies Can Worsen Insomnia-

Are Mr. Kim’s remedies recommendable? Not at all.

Mr. Kim learned through his own experience that sleep pills can have side effects. The over-the-counter sleeping pills merely keep you numb until the morning. If you still want sleeping pills, you should consult your doctor for a weaker one.

You should never take sleeping pills after drinking alcohol. It could lead to breathing difficulty. Reading books is recommended to combat insomnia. Reading actively may, however, can stimulate your brain. Light novels and essays will help you snore away. Do not toss and turn in bed, because you cannot fall asleep that way. It is better to just get up to read a book or watch TV.

You should finish exercising by 6:00 p.m., even if it is to get you tired.

Exercising will tighten your muscles and wake you up, and will inhibit sleep.

Change Your Living Patterns-

If you have trouble sleeping for no reason, try getting more sunshine. The hormone melatonin is excreted at night to help you fall asleep.

During winter, when the day is short and weather is cold and people remain indoors, the hormone can be excreted during the day. This will make you sleepy during the day. At night, when you really need the melatonin, not enough will be excreted, leading to insomnia. When you exercise, try to exercise outdoors in the sun instead of indoors.

Retired seniors citizens, who usually stay home and live with the lights turned off to save electricity, are prone to insomnia. People, who stay home most of the time, should take hour-long walks during the morning.

Drinks that contain caffeine like coffee, cola, black tea, and green tea are bad for sleep. Do not forget that health enhancing drinks and chocolate also have caffeine.

Baths and footbaths before sleep help you get a good night’s rest. You fall asleep easier when your temperature rises and then starts to fall.

Ways to Deal with Sleeping Disorder-

Sleeping disorders affect the quality of your sleep, not the length of it. Those who have snoring problems will experience sleep apnea syndrome and will wake up constantly during the night. Sleep apnea syndrome demands close attention because it can worsen with age and can even lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, cerebral apoplexy, and cardiac disorder.

Sleep disorder can be treated with an operation or a medical device worn during sleep.

Periodic leg movement, which causes sleepers to move their arms and legs during sleep, is also a sleeping disorder. Every 30 minutes or so, sleepers move their arms or legs for one or two seconds and subsequently wake up.

Some suffer from the restless legs syndrome, which causes them to feel that there is a bug crawling up their legs or feel that their skin is twitching. Some act out what they are dreaming, which leads to a loss of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These syndromes can be treated with medicine. Doctors examine their patients during sleep with what is called a polysomnography.

(Neuropsychiatry Professor Jeong Do-un of Seoul National University Hospital, Psychiatry Professor Shin Hong-bum of Eulji General Hospital, Psychiatry Professor Hong Seung-bong of Samsung Medical Center, and Psychiatry Professor Kim Hun-su of Asan Medical Center contributed to this article.)