Around 60 million people suffer from insomnia each year. Sleeping disorders can affect anyone at any age and people who suffer from them can find it hard to get better. Restless and sleepless nights plague them for months on end and it can affect their overall health if it goes untreated.
Insomnia is not only having trouble getting to sleep, but it’s so much more. People who suffer from insomnia can have trouble staying asleep on top of having trouble getting to sleep. Others wake up much earlier than need to and have trouble getting back to sleep. Some suffer from waking up quite often from sleep and then have to spend quite a bit of time trying to get back to sleep. In the end, people who suffer from insomnia feel like the never got a good nights rest and are more tired than when they went to bed.
Insomnia can plague many people for a variety of reasons, but it is important to note that there are two different forms of insomnia. The first is acute insomnia. People who suffer from this only suffer from insomnia for a short period of time. Normally this form of anxiety is brought about by some circumstance like stress before a big event or bad news. Acute insomnia will resolve itself once the certain circumstance is alleviated and the person suffering won’t have to have formal treatment. Whereas, the second form of insomnia is chronic insomnia or sleep maintenance insomnia. Chronic insomnia lasts much longer than acute insomnia and occurs at the very least three times a week for months. This kind of insomnia is brought about by much larger circumstances than little things that blow by.
Causes of Insomnia
Stress is one of the leading factors that causes insomnia. This is because stress is anything that keeps your mind awake when you get into bed. You may feel burdened by work school, or personal issues. This can keep your mind up and getting to sleep can become difficult. Others insomnia may be induced by the loss of a loved one or someone close to them becomes very ill. This puts you in a stressful condition and depending on how long it lasts it will determine how long your insomnia may last.
Usually referred to as jet lag, travel can induce insomnia. Traveling over multiple time zones or frequent traveling can mess with the body’s internal clock. This internal clock is referred to as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is what controls sleep patterns such as the sleep and wake cycle. it also controls your metabolism and internal temperature all to line up with your sleep pattern.
Work isn’t only stressful sometimes, but if your normal work shift changes it can change your sleep patterns. Your internal clock will be thrown off and it may take a while to adjust until you’re used to this new change. Until then your body will be confused as to when you’re meant to be awake and alert and tired and sleepy.
This may seem obvious, but if you don’t have a regular sleep schedule it can be hard to get sleep since your body isn’t on a pattern. This isn’t just limited to having a bed time. If you take naps during the day it will help you feel energized at that moment, but make it harder to sleep that night. If you’re someone that likes to exercise or go to the gym after work and things you may find it hard to sleep since you’ve been moving around making yourself more alert. Your environment can also mess with sleeping. If it is too hot or cold, the bed isn’t comfortable, there’s too much noise or light, this can all keep you up at night and effect your sleep. Being on any screen before bed can also keep you up since the light in screens inhibits the production of melatonin, which helps you go to sleep.
Late Night Eating
Just about everyone gets a late night snack before they go to bed or wake up in the middle of the night hungry. The thing is though, eating a lot or a full meal before bed can cause discomfort. You may feel bloated while you’re laying down or start to get heartburn. The acid in your stomach can flow up the throat and make it feel like its burning.
Medical Issues and Medications
Insomnia can be its own disorder, but it can also be a side effect of others. Insomnia has been linked to other mental health disorders including anxiety, PTSD, and depression. It is also a side effect of more physical complications including chronic pain, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Any medications someone may take can also cause insomnia. This can be a common symptom for prescription medications and even over the counter medications also.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Not every person suffers the same from insomnia, but these are the most common symptoms of insomnia…
-Issues concentrating leading to a decreased performance in school or work
-Tiredness or sleepiness during the day
-Worrying about sleep
-Make more errors or cause more accidents than normal
How to Help Your Insomnia
There are many ways to help with insomnia including medical and non-medical treatments, changing habits, natural remedies, and herbs to help combat insomnia. No method will work the same for two people. Sometimes it requires a combination of methods or a new one all together. Below are some methods that can help with your insomnia depending on which way you choose to go.
- Start a sleep diary. Take the time to log things such as the amount of caffeine you consume, when and how much you workout, how much time you spend watching TV or using screens and when you do it. You’ll begin to notice your habits and may be start to make adjustments to see what will help you get to sleep.
- Create and stick to a sleep schedule. For some this is easier said than done, but don’t forget about your internal clock. This is what helps you get to bed and stay asleep. So rather than fight it, help support it. At first your sleep schedule is meant to be strict to help ensure you’ll get a pattern down. Get up at the same time everyday and go to bed the same time everyday and a pattern will follow and your body will adjust.
- Stop taking naps. It’s hard to not want to come home and go for a quick nap after work or school. But those naps may be what’s keeping you up at night and keeping you from sleeping for a long time. If you choose to start a sleep schedule, eliminate naps for the best results. Though if you do find yourself needing a nap try to take one before it’s too late in the afternoon and limit it to about 15-20 minutes.
- Exercise It’s not only good for your physical health, but it can help burn off energy. Exercise is something we’re always told to do and it’ll increase our energy levels. Seems contradicting considering you’re trying to sleep, but it can help. Just be sure to not to work out right before you go to bed or you’ll be awake and alert when you do. Instead work out an hour or two before sleeping to give your body time to rest and relax.
- Turn off before bed. Put down your phone, put away the laptop, turn your TV off, and do something else. Looking at screens can keep you up. The light emitted from screens inhibits the body from producing melatonin and this is what helps get you to sleep easily. So turn off all screens about an hour before you go to sleep. Instead read a book or listen to audio books or podcasts to relax your mind and body.
- You may need a physical exam, a review of your sleep habits, and if need be a sleep study.
- You may be prescribed some medicine such as sleeping pills, but many doctors try to avoid it so the patient does not form a reliance.
- Relaxation Training: you learn to train your body to slowly relax and to regulate your breathing. Some people choose to listen to recordings that guide them to fall asleep or back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.
- Stimulus Control and Sleep Restriction: learn to associate the bedroom and bed with only sleeping and sex. You will have to limit what activities are allowed in the bedroom. This can include not allowing screens or work in the bedroom. When you wake up in the morning you have to be out of bed fifteen minutes after you wake up. This all will go along with a strict sleep schedule.
- Staying Awake: one symptom of insomnia is you think about when will you fall asleep. That occupies your mind and keeps you awake. So rather than force sleep, try to do the opposite and stay awake. Your focus will shift and eventually you’ll fall asleep naturally since you’re not thinking about sleep.
- Stress Management: manage the stress of work, family, school, and anything else that keeps you up at night. Being able to get control of what is stressing you out can help you sleep better at night since now you know you’re in control. It also will give you a much calmer and more positive outlook.
- Talk to Someone: If your mind is filled with stress and worries that you feel are overwhelming or you can’t get control of, talk to someone. Talking can help you vent and let off some steam. Your mind will be able to relax and calm down. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix your problems. They can just sit and listen. If you feel like that is too much because you’re afraid of them judging you, try talking to a pet. They will sit and listen and you don’t have to worry about them judging you in the end.
- Tart Cherry Juice: cherry juice contains tryptophan in it which is a natural sleep aid. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin and then converted further to melatonin.
- Bananas: these also contain tryptophan, potassium, and magnesium. These are natural muscle relaxers and work best if you eat it around a half an hour before going to bed.
- Noise: most people think you can’t sleep with noise, but sometimes too little to no noise can cause restlessness. Some people need some noise to sleep like white noise. White noise isn’t about having noise, but it’s about the consistency of the noise. There are plenty of apps that you can download that create white noise or you can go out and buy a white noise machine.
- Warm Milk: nothing really happens chemically that causes you to fall asleep easier after drinking warm milk. It is more of a psychological thing. The milk can help people feel warm and full and it relaxes them.
There are two ways to consume valerian root to help you sleep. The way valerian root works by helping you fall asleep faster and to sleep longer and better. It is advised to only take valerian root for around three weeks because if it’s longer your body may get used to it and the effect will no longer work.
The first way to consume valerian root is make a hot cup of valerian root tea. Place about a teaspoon of valerian root in an infuser and pour boiling water over it. Let it steep for around fifteen minutes and drink it a little while before you go to bed.
The second way is to purchase valerian in capsule form. Try to take around four before you go to sleep and it should last about four hours. If you wake up in the middle of the night you can take more or less depending on how much longer you need to sleep.
Lavender can be used for aromatherapy because it has been found to help relax you and make you feel sleepy. The best way to use lavender is to make a sleep sachet and fill it with some lavender. You can place the sachet either in or around your pillow or next to you on the bedside table. Wherever you put it, just make sure you can smell it while you sleep.
Passionflower can help you calm down and help you to relax. The flower acts as a sedative and can help ease stress and slow your mind down. Passionflower can be taken in tinciture form or drops. It’s recommended that you take roughly 30 to 60 drops before bed to get the full effect. You do have the choice of either taking the drops straight from the bottle or mixing them into a cup of juice or water. Whichever way you’ll be able to get a well nights rest.
California poppy is a strong acting sedative. It can ease restlessness and anxiety that results in insomnia. In order to get the most and best from California Poppy, take it along side the valerian root if the valerian root along isn’t working as well as you want it too. Take 30 to 40 drops of the poppy and you will be able to relax and get a better sleep.
Maybe one of the most common ways people suggest to help another person sleep. It’s no lie that it will help you sleep because chamomile is a sedative and a muscle relaxer. Get some chamomile leaves and steep the leaves in cup of hot water and enjoy yourself a warm cup of chamomile tea. If you’d like add a little milk, honey, or fresh squeezed lemon to suit your preferences.