The Quest for Rest: How Science and Technology is Coming to the Rescue

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Insomnia is a condition that can make life almost unbearable. Scientists tell us that most people require 7-8 hours sleep a night, but vast numbers are getting nothing like that amount. Some choose not to sleep, but many others lie awake unwillingly. It is reckoned that 10% of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as science is providing more options for the sleep-deprived.

Why Can’t You Sleep?

There are many reasons why people might not be able to nod off effectively, and science is still discovering aspects of sleep that will throw more light on the condition. Indeed scientists are still not agreed on why we need to sleep in the first place, but research is showing up some basic rules for getting to sleep.

Physical Causes

Pain is obviously going to be a problem, and dealing with it is going to vary depending on the cause of the pain. Pain can also set up a habit of wakefulness. Relaxation exercises help some people, and relaxing sounds on your phone might help.

Sleep apnea is a widespread condition which causes the sufferer to stop breathing for short periods during sleep when the tongue falls back into the airways. A new device is available which involves an implant into the chest or neck to monitor the breathing and stimulate the tongue muscles to move.

If you find you need to consult a sleep specialist, you may find it useful to wear a monitor like a Fitbit which can record information about your sleep patterns.

Mental Causes

Anxious thoughts are the cause of many a sleepless night. A simple example would be when you have an important engagement in the morning—fear of not waking up on time can stop you falling asleep. Technology can easily help here by providing a reliable and customizable app that you can trust to wake you on time, especially one that can lull you gently to sleep with relaxing music. Get it on Google Play.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found very effective in treating insomnia. Therapists can sometimes be hard to find, but amazingly some people find that an app on their phone can be almost as effective. CBT-i Coach is just one of a growing range of apps that can teach insomnia sufferers strategies to help them sleep.

Technology is not always your friend if you suffer sleeplessness. Research shows that the blue light emitted by phones and tablets can stimulate the brain, making sleep more difficult. On the other hand, gentle music (or a boring podcast) can help you to relax and drift off.

Consider the Options

Insomnia can have many causes, and therefore you need to experiment to discover the best way to deal with it. If it were easy to solve, not so many people would be suffering. Some people need professional help, but sometimes the problem responds to following simple rules and, once a pattern of sleep is re-established, it may just last.

Ruby Slater is a student who loves science, psychology, and tech – Quite a range! In her free time, she contributes to a range of blogs with her tech related articles.

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