Insomnia - Sleep is very much part and parcel of our day to day activities, since without proper rest our bodies can deteriorate, leaving us at risk for various health issues such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and even acquiring a sleep disorder too, like insomnia or parasomnia, just to name a few. Although some people are lucky enough to get a good night’s sleep when they turn off the lights, others find themselves tossing and turning in their bed, watching the clock move, and wishing they could catch a few zzz's before the morning arrives. Unfortunately, there are some of us who have insomnia that prevents us from drifting off to sleep easily.
Article at a Glance
- What is Insomnia?
- Causes Of Insomnia
- Symptoms Of Insomnia
- Types Of Insomnia
- 5 Ways To Help You Beat Insomnia
- Other Tips On How To Sleep Better
What is Insomnia?
“Why can’t I sleep?” If you’ve been asking this question lately, then you know that something is wrong. Some of us experience this from time to time, but when it has been going for several days or weeks, it can be a cause for concern already because you may already be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is one example of sleep disorders that are best described as having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night. Those who are diagnosed with this condition are either not getting enough sleep, quality sleep, or both, every time they go to bed. Usually, these sufferers exhibit several symptoms such as low energy, mood swings, fatigue, trouble concentrating in school or work, and poor performance.
Causes of Insomnia
People with insomnia know how difficult falling asleep is at night; hence some people resort to sleep medicine just to get a night’s sleep. But what causes this disorder in the first place? There are many factors that are linked to insomnia, such as medical and psychiatric issues, use of certain substances, and medications, poor sleep hygiene, and even biological problems too, just to name a few. The brain has its own sleep-wake cycle. Insomnia may be triggered when your normal sleep cycle is interrupted. That being said, it is still important to figure out what makes it difficult for you to fall asleep at night. Here are a few that you should take note of:
There are certain medical conditions that may prevent you from falling asleep at night such as gastrointestinal problems, sinus or nasal allergies, chronic pain, issues to your endocrine system, asthma, arthritis, and even neurological problems such as Parkinson’s disease. Even restless leg syndrome, where you need to move your legs frequently, can disrupt your bedtime which can put you at risk from insomnia. Taking medications to address these issues may also be a culprit in your lack of sleep.
Another possible cause for the onset of insomnia is depression. The struggle that we feel day to day can make it difficult for us to fall asleep. This can lead to more mood changes, and even affect your hormone production that can exacerbate your condition. Various sleep problems may be considered as one of the symptoms of depression. Those who have been diagnosed with this condition are likely to suffer from insomnia at some point.
Another possible cause for sleep problems like insomnia may depend on the lifestyle that we have. Poor sleep can be blamed for our unhealthy sleep habits. If you tend to bring your work home, it is possible that you’ll be skipping out on your much-needed sleep. Also, the light that is emitted by your device can disrupt your sleep cycle too. Another example is taking naps in the afternoon, that can run a full sleep cycle where you enter both NREM and REM sleep. If you are a shift worker, then you know that your sleep patterns will go out of sync, thus making it harder for you to sleep during bedtime.
Another possible culprit for insomnia is anxiety. If you find yourself constantly worrying about what’s happening or going to happen in your life, to the point that you can barely sleep a wink, and this goes on for several days, you may succumb to insomnia. Anxiety affects millions of people, and if you don’t deal with it as soon as possible, you may be at risk from more health problems.
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Symptoms of Insomnia
Sleep deprivation that goes on for days or weeks can affect your overall health, and may cause you to exhibit these symptoms:
- Waking up at night
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Constant errors at work or at school
- Can’t fall asleep easily
- Sleepiness or daytime tiredness
- More prone to accidents
These are just a few examples of insomnia symptoms that are related to having sleepless nights or interrupted sleep for days.
Types of Insomnia
Why can’t I sleep is a question that many of us ask as we lie in bed at night. Although there are times, it is easy to pinpoint the cause, such as anxiety, or pulling an all-nighter, understanding the root cause is important for us to get the right insomnia cures. Of course, it would help to know the different types of insomnia, to determine what available treatments to try. Here are the different kinds of this sleep disorder.
This is basically a short episode which can be triggered by a stressful event or situation. This type doesn’t require aggressive treatment as it is simply short-term insomnia which can be caused by jet lag, hanging out with friends, or binge- watching your favourite shows.
This type usually appears along with other conditions such as depression and anxiety. Chronic pain can also trigger this condition.
Also referred to as long-term insomnia, this goes on for long periods of time. Chronic insomnia can occur if you can’t fall asleep for three nights within a week or longer.
People who tend to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep after may have this condition.
This condition refers to the inability to fall asleep as soon as you get to bed.
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5 Ways To Help You Beat Insomnia
For those who are wondering, “Why can’t I sleep?”, Chances are there is something bugging you at night. Is it stress from work? Did you take a long nap in the afternoon? Are you taking medications? These are just a few legitimate questions that you should be asking yourself if you want to get to the bottom of the problem. For sure, you want to treat insomnia as soon as possible, but how? Well, here are five ways that can help you beat back this condition, so you don’t have to worry about any sleep disturbance keeping you from getting a good night’s rest.
1. Create a better sleep environment
If you are looking for insomnia cures, why not start with changing your bedroom’s overall look and feel? Spaces that are cluttered or have bright and colourful walls may not be conducive to sleep. The goal here is to create a space that will help you feel calm and relaxed enough to drift off to sleep during bedtime. Outside noises can be minimised with a white noise app or machine and installing blackout curtains can keep the light from the street lamps disturbing your sleep.
2. Try cognitive behavioural therapy
People living with chronic insomnia may become overwhelmed with the hardship of falling or staying asleep at night and may feel that there are no suitable insomnia cures to help them out. Well, experts have developed cognitive behavioral therapy as a means to correct one’s sleep patterns in order for them to get back to sleep. In behavioral therapy, it is possible that sleep aids will be incorporated to support the therapy for insomnia, which is why it should be conducted by an expert. If you suffer from insomnia, this insomnia treatment may help your body get in sync with your circadian rhythm, so that you can sleep easily at night.
3. Treat primary condition first
Like it was mentioned before, insomnia may be triggered by an underlying medical condition which is why it is a good idea to start there first. Secondary insomnia tends to disappear once the root of your medical condition is treated or addressed.
4. Correct your diet
Food can be a trigger for sleepless nights which is why you should take a closer look at your food intake. If you tend to eat a heavy meal during dinner, make sure that you have it earlier, or at least a few hours before your bedtime. This gives your stomach time to digest the food that you’ve eaten, so it won’t bother you when you go to sleep.
5. Prescription sleeping pills
Some doctors will recommend sleeping pills to help you sleep at night, but it is important that you know that some may cause side effects such as daytime sleepiness, mood swings, and the like. Talk to your doctor about the possible effects of certain sleep medications that you will be taking to ensure that you take them at the right time and the right dosage too. Aside from prescription pills, you may also try melatonin supplements which are known to boost the amount of melatonin in your body to help you sleep easily. Always talk with your primary physician before starting any supplement or medication.
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Other Tips on How to Sleep Better
There is no denying that our sleep habits may contribute to our sleep deprivation, but if you don’t want to be at risk from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia, you might want to start to reconsider your bedtime routine. These tips may even help you sleep better at night too.
Follow a fixed sleep schedule
First things first, having a sleep schedule is crucial to training your body to nod off at a specific time in the day. Take note, however, that this should not be limited during the weekdays, but also on the weekends too. Following a sleep and wake schedule will teach your body when to wind down and when to start revving up for the day.
Improve your sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to the routine that we follow before going to bed. This includes meditation, light yoga, or even drinking a glass of warm milk, anything that will help you go into that calm and relaxed state at night.
Disconnect from your gadgets
Continually using your devices even while you are in bed may prevent you from falling asleep. The blue light from the screen can hinder you from getting some shuteye. That being said, it will be good for you if you learn to disconnect from your gadgets at least half an hour before you sleep so that your mind and body can relax enough for you to fall asleep.
Get up when you can’t sleep
There are times when we just can’t seem to sleep even when we are in bed. And although some of us force ourselves to sleep, it is much better that you get up and do something relaxing, such as reading a book or listening to soft music. Once you feel at ease, then you can go back to bed for some shuteye.
Avoid stimulants close to bedtime
Drinking coffee or any caffeinated drink close to your bedtime may also affect your sleep patterns. Since caffeine is a stimulant, make sure that you limit it in the mornings and afternoon. Insomnia affects millions of people all over the world, but the good news is that there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate this condition, whether it is acute or chronic.
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