Do you have it? What can you do about it?
Insomnia, a strange sounding word that many of us probably never think to apply to ourselves. It just sounds too serious, too medical, too much like a disease or debilitating disorder. Instead we’d probably just rather say we have trouble sleeping. In fact that’s all insomnia really is, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Sounds innocent enough when you put it that way, like nothing but a mild inconvenience. Sometimes that’s indeed all it is, especially if it only lasts a short while. For many however, insomnia lasts more than a short while and the lack of sleep can be debilitating. For some it’s even chronic and their sleeplessness continues night after night. Has nocturnal slumber becoming nothing but an elusive dream for you? Then read on and consider some information that may be of benefit to your nighttime struggles.
How Insomnia Presents Itself
- An inability to sleep at all.
- An inability to stay asleep.
- Waking up over and over throughout the night, sleeping only in spurts and never getting into a deep sleep.
- Sleeping fine for a while but then waking in the middle of the night or in the very early morning, unable to fall back asleep.
The Possible Effects of Insomnia
- Nighttime, which should be a time of relaxation where you enjoy a peaceful slumber, can instead become a time of tremendous stress and strain, when your bed becomes a battleground as you work and struggle to make yourself go to sleep. This work to try to force sleep can make you dread going to bed in the first place and end up causing even more sleeplessness.
- Obviously when you can't sleep at night you can end up feeling tired and lacking energy during the daytime. Consequently you may become irritable and lack patience and focus.
- Your work life can become hampered as you might not be running on all cylinders.
- Your personal life can become strained as your mood and attitude becomes cranky and less than enthusiastic about life and happenings.
Causes of Insomnia
In the majority of cases, insomnia comes down to at least one of the following causes; stress, worry, anxiety, or depression. These four elements have the ability to keep the adrenaline flowing in our bodies and our minds busy with activity. Sometimes the situation is very specific and temporary, in which case the insomnia may be too. Other times the problem is ongoing. Clearly there’s a lot in our lives to induce these problems: Work, school, relationships, money, health, etc. Then in other cases, especially when it comes to anxiety and depression, the problem may be more generalized and even clinical and not relate to any specific factor in our lives. Note: In some cases, insomnia is caused by
Other Factors Leading to Insomnia
In situations where stress, worry, anxiety, and depression are not the culprits behind sleeplessness, there may be a problem of restlessness brought on by any number of situational or environmental factors.
- Irregular bed times.Consistency is important for most of us as we have an inbuilt circadian rhythm, or in other words, a body clock that has a sense of when it wants to sleep and when it wants to be awake. Trying to sleep at different times each day or every several days can seriously compromise this inbuilt sense of sleep timing.
- Daytime napping. For some of us the temptation of a nap during the day is irresistible. For some however, naps, especially longer ones, can seriously screw with their body’s sense of sleep timing.
- Bedroom environment. If it’s not relaxing, peaceful and quiet, then the restful state of mind needed for sleep may be difficult to come by.
- Using your bed for something other than sleeping. This includes reading, watching tv, listening to music, or working on any kind of computer.
- Exercise issues. A lack of overall exercise can be a problem that leads some to feeling restless at night. Sometimes you may simply have too much left over energy. (Be careful however of exercising shortly before bedtime as this might leave you too wound up to go to sleep.)
- Eating issues. Going to bed after a heavy meal is rarely good idea. Going to be famished could also keep you awake.
- If a specific situation of stress is at issue then some relaxation techniques may help. Breathing exercises, meditation, gentle music and the like before you ever even enter your bedroom. Experiment and find what can work for you.
- If generalized anxiety or depression is the issue, then some professional counseling may be in order or some other pursuit of mental health in order to ease the problem.
- If your bedroom environment is an issue try making some changes. Perhaps a better window covering if you need it darker. Maybe a different arrangement in terms of where your bed is and what it faces. If you’re a bit sloppy in how you keep your bedroom a good straightening and cleaning may give you a more peaceful sense of mind when going to bed. Sounds can also be an issue. Some need total quiet but for others some kind of white noise is beneficial such as a fan or maybe a device that plays ocean or rain sounds. Music can be helpful for some but the selection of music can be critical.
- Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleeping (and intimate activities). Don’t make a habit of lying around in bed daydreaming or worrying. Don’t bring work to bed. Don’t read or watch tv in bed (unless it actually helps you sleep as it may with some).
- Address your routine before you go to bed: Things like eating, drinking, exercising, and the kinds of activities you might engage in. Which activities precipitate a restful night's sleep can vary greatly from person to person so you may need to try different things to see what's most effective for you. Activities under consideration will commonly involve watching tv, reading, computer browsing, computer gaming, music, taking a walk, a personal hobby, etc. The critical point is that you feel ready for sleep before ever pulling back the covers.
- For some a warm bath or hot shower before bedtime really helps.
- Avoid caffeine within several hours of going to bed.
Sleep shouldn’t be hard work but too often it is. Beating insomnia may take some work but for the most part it should be work that you do outside of sleeping hours so that bedtime can become a time of gentle relaxation and rest; your bedroom the kind of place you enjoy retiring to each night and escaping, rather than engaging, in the rigors of modern life. Pleasant dreams.