We have all experienced those long nights where we have really struggled to get to sleep and once asleep seem to wake up every 10 minutes or so, eventually lying awake defeated and exhausted staring at the clock. This is quite a common event for many people now and again, and it is something that usually rectifies itself within a few days and doesn’t return frequently.
The effects of insomnia
But for other people, this is an occurrence that is happening every night and this is something we call Insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to get asleep and stay asleep for the minimum amount of hours every night that one’s body desperately needs to function efficiently every day.
Without the amount of sleep we need, chronic insomnia sufferers end up being seriously cranky, super moody, listless and more prone to colds and flu than other people who are getting enough sleep at night. For anybody that has ever had a newborn baby – they can certainly appreciate what it must be like to suffer from chronic insomnia – even if they don’t.
Unable to function, you end up feeling what is described as ‘’drunk tired’’, being unable to focus, concentrate or to perform basic tasks. And an overly tired person on the roads is as much of a danger, if not more of a danger, than a horribly drunk person behind the wheel.
The symptoms of insomnia
If you are regularly experiencing the following symptoms, you may very well be experiencing a bout of insomnia.
• Unable to fall asleep even though you are tired.
• Waking up all the time and not being able to go back to sleep.
• Using drugs or alcohol to help you fall asleep.
• Inability to concentrate during the daytime.
• Feeling irritable, tired and drowsy during the day.
What causes insomnia
There are many reasons why you could be suffering from insomnia and when you are able to pinpoint them and deal with them effectively you could be on your way to a really good night’s rest. Depression, anxiety and recent trauma are big culprits for interfering with sleep, as are medications, or being too hot or being too cold. If you have an erratic sleeping routine, this is certainly not going to help either.
And the worst part is that a serious lack of sleep means that any depression or anxiety or any other symptoms are worsened by a lack of sleep so you enter a vicious circle. And in fact, before you rush out to get medical help to assist you in getting more sleep, you may want to make a little assessment of your own personal habits first.
How to deal with insomnia
Things like alcohol may indeed help you to fall asleep at first, but at around 3 in the morning, it will wake you up and you can forget about going back to sleep easily again. And coffee is another bad sleepy-time friend. If you are a bit of a coffee pot and are still enjoying a cuppa or six at some point in the late afternoon, don’t be fooled into thinking that it won’t keep you awake at night. For the very least, it will interfere with your ability to stay asleep later, and disrupted sleep is just as bad as no sleep at all.
You may think that you are living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, but staying up late and watching TV or playing games on Facebook until after midnight is going to engage your brain no matter how tired you are. Start investigating your own day to day habits and you will quickly be able to see where you are going wrong.
Workaholics who are double clutching the lattes during the day and taking their work to bed with them every night, trying to squeeze in every available moment during the day, are going to come up short, as they have not given their brain a chance to switch off yet.
Here are some excellent tips in helping you find your friend the Sandman so that you can enjoy a full nights rest.
1. Get into a Routine
This may feel hard at first, but after 2 weeks, you will start to notice that you are beginning to bounce back. Get up at the same time every single day, no matter how tired you are, and even on weekends. Go to sleep at the same time every night too and you will start to find your groove again.
2. No Napping
Feeling like you are going to crash at 4pm? You are not alone, but resist the urge for a quick power nap – it will interfere with your ability to get to sleep later on.
3. Limit Stimulants
No booze, food or caffeine whatsoever before bedtime – or you can forget it.
4. Stop Smoking
Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world and each time you have a cigarette, you are getting about 10 hits of it. It is a huge stimulant and so incredibly bad for you, your body, your brain and your life in general. Having 10 cigarettes because you can’t sleep is like brushing your teeth with a mouth full of Oreos – impossible. If you want to snap out of insomnia, ditch the smokes for good.
5. Peaceful Home
Just before you climb into bed is not the time for a heavy discussion, and definitely not an argument, or a stressful situation. If you must address personal and family issues, make sure that they are discussed in the morning; there is nobody that can sleep after a blazing row with a loved one. Although this is not always possible, try and keep your stress and anxiety levels at an all-time low if you want a good night’s rest.
6. Dark, Cool Rooms
If there is a lot of light pouring into your room and it is really hot and humid, or so cold you can’t feel your nose, even though your duvet is right up over your head, there is no way you are going to get to sleep. Keep your room dark and at an even temperature and you will have a much better chance at a good night’s sleep.
7. Speak to Your Doctor
If it becomes unmanageable, you really have to see your doctor. Persistence insomnia can become debilitating. If you have concerns about sleeping pills you can address them with a knowledgeable practitioner.