People in late middle age and older increasingly seek help because they have trouble sleeping, a recent survey by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service shows.
The survey finds that the number of people treated for insomnia increased from 207,000 in 2007 to 383,000 last year, or by an annual average of 16.7 percent. People over 50 made up 65.6 percent of insomnia patients.
Major symptoms of insomnia include taking more than half an hour to fall asleep, waking up at least five times at night, and having difficulty going back to sleep.
If people find it difficult to carry out routines in daily life or suffer too much stress due to insomnia, medical help is needed. If going to a hospital is not a viable option, a quiet time of meditation, listening to calm music, or reading poetry before going to bed can help them relax.
If people have trouble concentrating or working during the day due to lack of sleep, a 15-minute cat-nap can help. But naps in turn make sleeping at night more difficult, so they are best avoided except as a last resort.
Some people worry that having sex will excite their sympathetic nerve and keep them awake afterwards, but for men sex discharges the hormone prolactin, which makes them feel sleepy. For women, sex helps relax muscles, so some fall asleep more easily, but for others it has the opposite effect.
Sunlight reduces the discharge of melatonin and informs the brain that it is morning. If people stay indoors all day and only go out in the afternoon, the brain may mistakenly believes it is morning and disrupts sleeping patterns. It is best to go out into bright sunlight for 30 to 40 minutes within 10 minutes of waking up.