Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder whereby you find it difficult to fall asleep; you find it difficult to stay asleep, or you may wake up too early and be unable to get back to sleep. And when you do wake up, you still feel tired. While many people complain of lying awake for hours, watching the hours pass by on their bedside clock, what they may not realise is that chronic insomnia can contribute to some really serious health problems. At the very least, insomnia affects your mood, your energy levels, your work performance, your quality of life, and more importantly your overall health.
So let’s take a closer look at some things you can do if you have insomnia, and what it is that makes you feel so irritable, tired, and unable to concentrate the next day.
Most people at some point in their lives have experienced short-term insomnia, also known as acute insomnia, which can last for a few days or even a few weeks. This is often caused by stress or a traumatic event. However, chronic insomnia is when insomnia is experienced for longer than a month. Whether insomnia is the primary problem, or whether it’s associated with medications or other medical conditions, is a matter that should be discussed with your health professional.
People with insomnia find it difficult to obtain restorative levels of sleep, with both the quality and quantity of sleeping affected. Short term, this lack of sleep may cause you to feel tired and weary during the day, but long-term, you’ll eventually become anxious, depressed, and easily annoyed.
Common Symptoms of Insomnia Include –
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night and not being able to go back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Daytime sleepiness or tiredness
- Not feeling well rested during the day
- Anxiety, irritability, depression
- Difficulty focusing on tasks, paying attention, or remembering
- Increasing number of accidents or mistakes
- Continuous worries about lack of sleep.
There Are A Wide Range of Conditions That May Be The Root Cause of Your Insomnia, like –
- Psychiatric conditions
- Pulmonary disease
- It might even be related to your high intake of alcohol or caffeine, both of which can disrupt your sleep cycle.
- How are your stress levels? We know that stress can be a vital factor when it comes to insomnia – your stress may be related to finances, a relationship, your work, school, your health, the environment, and so much more.
Other Causes of Insomnia
- Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine: The nicotine found in tobacco products is a stimulant that can adversely affect sleep. Caffeinated drinks like cola, tea, and coffee are also stimulants, so consuming them in the late afternoon or evening can prevent you from falling asleep at bedtime. While alcohol often helps people fall asleep, it can cause awakening during the night and does prevent the deeper stages of sleep.
- Mental Health Issues: Post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety orders can be very disruptive to sleep. In fact, one symptom of depression is awakening too early.
- Sleep-Related Disorders: Restless Leg Syndrome can interrupt sleep, as can Sleep Apnoea because your sleep is interrupted periodically throughout the night.
- Prescription Medications: Some antidepressants and certain medications for blood pressure and asthma can interfere with sleep. Also, some over-the-counter medications like weight loss products, cold, allergy, and pain medications contain stimulants like caffeine that can disrupt sleep.
- Certain Medical Conditions: Some examples of conditions linked with insomnia include cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes, asthma, overactive thyroid, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
How Can I Remedy This Situation?
Below we’ve listed our top tips on how to manage insomnia.
Stick to a Routine: When you stick to a regular routine, you regulate your body’s clock. Ultimately, you teach your body to wake up at a consistent time, every day. Regulating your body clock is relatively easy to do – stop going to bed late during the week and stop sleeping in on weekends. Have a regular go-to-bed time and a regular get-out-of-bed time and stick to this routine 7 days a week. Eventually you won’t even need an alarm clock because your body clock will do it for you.
Wind Down Before Retiring For the Night: You should allow at least one hour every night before bedtime to allow your body to move into sleep mode. This needs to be a calming activity, which means no computer or electronic devices. Don’t eat a heavy meal or drink caffeine or alcohol, and certainly do not exercise right before bed-time.
Manage Your Stress: The only way to get a good night’s sleep is to relax both your mind and body before you go to bed. If your mind is racing and you’re thinking of all the things you need to do, write them down. Make your plans for the next day before you even go into your bedroom. A great way to decrease anxiety and control stress is to meditate, and if you’re not sure how, you’ll find there are many guided meditations online. If you’re not into meditation, have you considered relaxing your body and mind by trying a vinyasa yoga sequence sometime between dinner and bed-time. Again, you’ll find many really good yoga tutorials online.
Create The Ideal Sleeping Environment: Create the perfect sleeping environment for you by wearing an eye mask to block out the light, earplugs to block outside noise, and invest in thick curtains. It’s also important that your bedroom temperature is not too warm – the temperature for optimal sleep is somewhere between 15 and 20°C.
Should I Consult My Health Professional
The answer to this question is yes. You need to see your healthcare professional if insomnia is making it difficult for you to function during the day. The cause of your insomnia needs to be identified, and your doctor will offer ways to manage your sleep disorder. It may even be that you’ll be referred to a Sleep Centre or Clinic where your sleeping patterns will be closely monitored to determine how your insomnia can be eliminated.
- Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash
- This post has was first published in November 2020
- Zoom Health UK is a supplier of affordable home health test kits and earplugs