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Let's talk life ...Sleep problems

Published:Saturday | April 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson, Contributor

Dear Counsellor:

I have a problem that's been going on for a year now. I have difficulty falling asleep at nights and I am unable to sleep throughout. When I am awake at night, I think of all my problems. Everything seems catastrophic at the dead of the night. I would like to get some sleep.

- Sonia

Dear Sonia:

Sleep is essential to adequate functioning of an individual. We need seven to 10 hours of sleep each night. Babies sleep longer, while the elderly use up shorter periods. There are many reasons for the inability to sleep.

Sometimes the individual is overstressed, depressed or anxious. If someone is experiencing pain, they won't be able to sleep well. Stress, depression and anxiety are common factors which prevent persons from sleeping well at night.

You need to examine your routine to identify stressors and issues that are causing you anxiety. The violence in society is causing great fear, and this may cause you to lose your night's rest. The death of a loved one may also interfere with sleep as we grieve the loss.

Depression is a common condition but it is very treatable. There are therapies and medications which are effective in the treatment of depression. Some illnesses may present with depression and cause loss of sleep. Whenever an individual has a sleeping problem, he or she should see a doctor for a physical examination. An annual physical is recommended.

Some people need to be deconditioned about their anxieties to cope at night. There are some simple things which can be done to facilitate sleep. Keep the bedroom snooze-friendly by using pillows, linen and soft music that are sleep-inducing.

Sometimes you need to make, during the day, a list of the issues that need to be dealt with. Having emptied your mind, you will be able to sleep.

Unloading the pounds

Dear Counsellor:

I am 40 years old and overweight. I am interested in a healthy-lifestyle programme.

- Marcia

Dear Marcia:

It is good that you are interested in a healthy-lifestyle programme. A healthy-lifestyle programme is essential to longevity and freedom from illnesses. The bases of the programme are exercise, healthy nutrition and getting an annual check-up.

Walking for half an hour every day can be beneficial. You may lose some weight, firm the muscles in your body and improve the circulation in the body which makes for a healthy heart. It is advantageous to have a walking partner to provide encouragement, consistency and perseverance. Exercise will help you to think and also to manage stress. Exercising can make you feel energised.

Your nutritional assessment needs to be done by a dietitian. Your daily caloric intake can be measured and a nutritional programme implemented. That regime can be monitored by making a list of the foods, including healthy portions of fruit and vegetables, you will consume each day.

Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and thirst.

It is recommended that you have breakfast in the morning and eat fish and take omega-3 oil. Nutritional supplements are helpful also. Sleep is important and you should get adequate rest daily. Many people are deprived of sleep, which affects their efficiency at work or while driving.

Hobbies are entertaining and fulfilling. Volunteering is worthwhile and can increase your social support. Doing activities that enhance people skills will go a long way towards improving your mental health.

Email questions and feedback to Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson at yvonniebd@hotmail.com, or phone her at 978-8602.