Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night? Are you unable to stay asleep and wake up tired? Are you up too early? … you may need to address insomnia
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects the ability to get rest of the desired quality. Difficulty in falling asleep at night, unable to stay asleep, waking up tired and waking up too early are some of the symptoms of insomnia.
On an average, an adult requires a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep to function without feeling tired or sleep deprived.
When you are unable to get enough sleep, it begins to impact your day-to-day functioning, your energy levels, mood and overall quality of life. Fortunately, it is possible to tackle symptoms that cause insomnia and get quality sleep at night.
What causes insomnia?
Often, adults experience acute or short-term insomnia, brought on by poor lifestyle choices or other conditions such as high stress levels or traumatic experiences. Acute insomnia lasts for days or weeks, however, if you are experiencing the symptoms for months or even years, then it is a case of chronic insomnia.
Here are some causes that can cause chronic insomnia –
Stress – Too much worry causes stress. Each person’s stressors may be different but the result is disturbed and unrestful sleep.
Poor sleep pattern – Staying up late at night on a regular basis can interrupt your circadian rhythms. Your body runs on circadian rhythms which are similar to an alarm clock. So, if these are disturbed, you are likely to experience trouble falling asleep. Continuous disturbance in your sleep pattern could lead to insomnia.
Disruptive habits – Apart from a poor sleep pattern, doing your work in bed, using digital devices that emit blue light – like your mobile, tablet, room lighting, TV etc., can result in poor sleep.
Eating or drinking certain foods before bedtime – Consumption of caffeine-rich, sugary, foods and beverages will keep you awake for hours. Apart from these, smoking and consuming alcohol before your bedtime can make sleeping difficult or impact your quality of sleep. Although alcohol may give you the sense of feeling drowsy, stimulants are used to boost energy. Heavy meals in the evening can disrupt your digestive system and interfere with your sleep. Conversely, eating too little also has a negative effect on sleep.
The ageing factor – If you are mostly sedentary, something as casual as sitting around in your living room, can make you take multiple naps (due to boredom) throughout the day, disrupting your sleep pattern. Ageing also makes most people more sensitive to the environment – noises may wake you up and going back to again can be a task. Seniors with health conditions taking medication are prone to pain that could keep them awake at night. Additionally, some medication side-effect’s result in poor sleep.
Here are eight simple ways to tackle insomnia:
1. Avoid stimulants before bed – Stimulants are meant to boost energy so consumption of any kind of stimulant before bedtime will cause trouble falling asleep. Stimulants can last for up to 24 hours keeping your mind awake so if you can try avoiding them for some time and see how well you sleep. Avoiding alcohol also helps you get deeper, quality rest.
2. Say no to napping – Napping through the day around your house will just make you feel lazy and lethargic. Although small naps help you get a bit more rest and may make your feel fresh during the day, they can have an effect on your sleep at night. So, if you feel tired, do your best to stay awake until your bedtime – keep yourself occupied with physical activities – go for a walk, play a musical instrument, do some gardening, cook something for yourself.
3. Minimise your stress levels – High stress levels makes it difficult to relax and go to bed. Try some stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, deep muscle relaxation or aroma therapy. These stress-relief methods calm your body and mind down enough to sleep through the night.
4. Avoid midnight food cravings – When you eat, you activate your digestive tract and keep yourself awake. People suffering from heartburn and other reflux disorders worsen insomnia when they eat before bed. Avoid eating and drinking before bed to avoid frequent bathroom trips, which also disrupt sleep.
5. Follow a sleep schedule – Go to sleep at the same time every day. Having a sleep schedule will improve your circadian rhythms and improve your quality of sleep. This way you will sleep well and wake up fresh everyday and you will also notice that your energy levels will be high during the day.
6. Exercise for at least 15 minutes – Exercise is a great stress reliever and strengthens your body. If your health and doctor permit it, working out every day for a minimum of 15 minutes will help exert energy and get you quality rest. It will also improve your cardiovascular health and keep you active. Exercise also improves your mind space by releasing endorphins, which help you feel better.
7. Check the lights in your room –Customise your lighting and make sure it does not hinder your sleep. Dim your lights enough that it doesn’t disrupts your sleep and draw your curtains so that there are no light spills from the outside.
8. Seek therapy – If there are other factors that are causing your insomnia, do get in touch with a sleep therapist. There are a number of sleep therapy centres which help in regulation and improvement of sleep quality.
A good night’s rest and a fresh start to the day without feeling tired or sleep-deprived helps you get more out of you day. With a few adjustments and some professional help, if you need it, you will find the energy and vitality to enjoy each day.