Have you ever suffered from insomnia? Faced difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Does this make you feel tired, overwhelmed, and stressed? If you do, you are one of the millions of people around the world that suffer from insomnia, with as many as 1 in 3 people in the UK suffering from sleeplessness. Some people experience occasional insomnia that lasts for a few nights. The worst cases, however, can last for months and even years.
Negative Side Effects Of Insomnia
People who suffer from insomnia find it difficult to fall asleep or spend long periods awake at night. Some people wake up early and then aren’t able to fall asleep again. This can make you feel tired during the day, further leading to irritability and, in some cases, depression.
Sleep is important for cellular repair, muscular repair, energy, memory, concentration, and more. Sleeplessness can lead to an inability to work or even function normally. It can have a negative effect on memory and focus, even leading to trouble remembering the simplest of tasks or facts. More serious side effects can lead to accidents and even death as people find it difficult to concentrate. The immune system can also be affected and lead to physical and mental health problems.
Causes Of Insomnia
The causes of insomnia are many and vary from person to person. For many sufferers, the primary cause is probably poor lifestyle, diet, and sleep choices. Some people follow habits that commonly cause insomnia but still sleep easily, whereas others will stay up all night. So, consider which of these things might be keeping you up. You might be surprised that some of the activities you thought don’t affect you actually do. Changing a few of such choices can give you the freedom and ability to get a good night’s rest.
1. Physical Problems
Health issues such as chronic pain, PMS, menopause, or ill health can keep you from sleeping peacefully and cause insomnia over the long term.
2. Poor Diet Choices
Bad diet choices that induce insomnia include what you eat and drink.
- Caffeine is a stimulant and a cause of insomnia. So, drinking coffee, colas, and other high-caffeine drinks before bedtime is definitely not ideal.
- Some might think that getting drunk will help them sleep better. However, the opposite is more likely.
- Eating heavy meals or snacks full of sugar late at night creates sleeplessness. It is best to not eat for at least an hour or two before bedtime. (This does not mean you can eat an entire slab of chocolate an hour before going to bed.)
3. Bad Sleep Habits
Humans are creatures of habit. Have you ever heard of Pavlov’s dogs? If so, you will be familiar with conditioned reflexes. Essentially, you can get anchored with a response to a certain stimulus. For example, listening to a particular song might always remind you of someone. In a similar manner, bad sleeping habits can cause difficulty falling asleep.
Many people watch TV or YouTube or do other activities like paperwork in bed. These can stimulate the mind, making it difficult for the brain to switch off and fall asleep. Going to bed at inconsistent times also messes up your body clock. Humans typically need 6–10 hours of sleep per night. The amount of sleep required fluctuates from person to person. Some people think that they can get by with 4 hours of sleep or even less. While they might be able to for a short term, it will have a detrimental effect on their general performance over a longer period.
4. External Factors
Some external influences may have an impact on a good night’s sleep. Such factors include an uncomfortable bed, bright light, extreme hot or cold temperatures, and loud noise.
5. Side Effects Of Medication
Some medications can have adverse side effects while treating a particular condition. One such side effect is insomnia and the medications that commonly cause this include antidepressants and steroids.
6. Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are large contributors of insomnia and can stem from issues in relationships, finance, or job security. Fear and other negative emotions also play their role in sleeplessness. Continuously thinking and worrying speeds up the brain waves and do not let the brain relax, causing insomnia.
20 Tips To Be Free Of Insomnia
- Have a regular sleep pattern so that your body and mind know when it is time to rest.
- Have a calm down period when you start to unwind before going to bed. Switch off electronic devices like phones, tablets, and TV before bedtime. If something’s plugged in to charge, make sure the lights are not going to wake you up.
- Relaxing, calming music can help calm the mind. Some people swear by music therapy for a good night’s sleep.
- A warm bath or shower before bedtime has been known to help people relax and fall asleep.
- Use dark curtains, especially if you work night shifts and need to sleep during the day.
- Wherever possible, do what you can to keep the room quiet.
- Have a comfortable bed and mattress.
- Maintain the right room temperature. “About one to one and a half hours before falling asleep, the body starts to lose heat from its central core and that brings on increased feelings of tiredness in normal healthy adults. These physiological changes happen well before going to bed and may be occurring before people realize them,” says Dr. Cameron Van den Heuvel. The optimal room temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. This is also the best temperature for the release of melatonin, which is anti-aging.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or heavy meals before going to bed.
- Among other benefits, exercising can also help you get a good night’s sleep. However, do not exercise a couple of hours before bedtime. Studies show that the best time to exercise is actually in the morning.1
- If you sleep during the day, try cutting it out to see if it improves your night-time sleeping patterns.
- Write a to-do list for the following day so that you can forget about the things you need to do and sleep peacefully.
- Writing an “attitude of gratitude” diary can help you count your blessings and change your focus from worrying to positivity.
- Taking medicines is an option, but it should always be the last resort.
- Reading can make you feel tired and want to fall asleep. But it is best not to do it in bed. You want to create an anchor that your bed is for sleep or intimacy.
- Stay outdoor often. Camping and being in fresh air, free from daily distractions and pressures, can help you to relax.
- Switch off electronic devices and do a social media detox.
- Follow healthy diets and eating habits.
- Meditation and mindfulness, hypnosis, and breathing exercises are some complementary therapies that can give great results.
- If all else fails, seek professional advice. Although this is an option, it does not mean you have to turn to medication. Working with a complementary therapy professional can be very effective.
Insomnia sufferers can face a debilitating loss of sleep for a few nights to a few years. There are various causes over which you have total control that can reduce the risk of insomnia. With such solutions to overcome sleeplessness, you can stop the suffering and return to having quality sleep and an increased quality of life.
|↑1||Fairbrother, Kimberly, Ben Cartner, Jessica R. Alley, Chelsea D. Curry, David L. Dickinson, David M. Morris, and Scott R. Collier. “Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives.” Vascular health and risk management 10 (2014): 691.|