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Insomnia - Getting The Help You Need

Experiencing an occasional sleepless night every now and again is normal and transient insomnia affects all of us from time to time, especially when we are under personal or professional stress, or our schedule changes significantly as a result of jet lag or shift work. But prolonged insomnia, lasting for perhaps six months or more, is another story.

If you have been unable to sleep every night, or most nights, for an extended period, then you may well suffer from serious insomnia.

If left untreated, such chronic insomnia can lead to a variety of significantly more serious conditions, including headaches, high blood pressure and even an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. What's more, sleep disorders such as this can cause a loss of mental clarity and difficulty in concentrating. Insomnia and related sleep problems have also been linked to depression and other serious psychological and emotional problems.

Fortunately, addressing the problem, and getting the help you need for a better night's sleep, can prove relatively straightforward. Whether you suffer from initial insomnia (trouble falling asleep), middle insomnia (difficulty staying asleep), or late insomnia (waking up too early), a process of simple adjustments to your daily routine, exercise, diet and sleep schedule will gradually result in a new pattern of healthful and fulfilling sleep.

A variety of natural sleep remedies (herbs, vitamins and minerals), when used appropriately, can prove an extremely effective tool in overcoming insomnia and generating a better night's sleep. In fact, a few notable herbs and natural remedies have been medically recognized as the natural equivalent of several well-known artificial sleep aids and sleeping pills, and have been lauded for their effectiveness.

If you still find yourself struggling, even after making basic lifestyle changes and using proven natural remedies for insomnia (not to mention allowing an appropriate amount of time for these changes to take effect), you do need to seek the advice of a doctor. In this case, you could be suffering from more severe insomnia or a related sleep disorder like sleep apnea, narcolepsy or restless legs syndrome, all of which require the guidance of a medical professional.

The following questionnaire will help you determine your level of insomnia. Simply answer "true" (T) or "false" (F) to each question:

1. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a good night's sleep.

2. I have difficulty falling asleep at least four nights out of every seven.

3. I frequently wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep.

4. I often wake up at least an hour or more before my alarm clock rings.

5. More often than not, I go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

6. I follow a regular exercise routine.

7. My diet includes a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

8. I watch television or have a computer in my bedroom.

9. My spouse/partner complains about my snoring.

10. I am frequently sleepy during the day and often wake up feeling tired.

11. I often experience a tingling or crawling sensation in my legs and feet.

12. I frequently find myself accidentally falling asleep during the day.

Answering "true" to any of the first four questions will help confirm the fact that you may be suffering from serious insomnia.

Answering "true" to questions five through eight, however, suggests that you have already established the lifestyle habits conducive to a good night's sleep. Having difficulty sleeping despite following a healthy exercise, diet and daily routine suggests that you could be suffering from some form of insomnia. You may want to try using natural sleep remedies to manage your condition, and considering seeking the advice of a medical professional if it persists.

Answering "true" to the last four questions may indicate that you suffer from severe insomnia or a related sleep disorder, and you should seek the advice of a medical professional.

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