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How To Cope With Insomnia

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Types Of Chronic Insomnia

There are two main types of chronic insomnia: primary and secondary.

Primary insomnia isnt due to other medical conditions or medications and is poorly understood by scientists. Specialized MRI scans are being used to study this condition. Primary insomnia may be related to changes in levels of certain brain chemicals, but research is ongoing.

Secondary insomnia is caused by other conditions or situations. This means that its a symptom that goes along with some medical issues, such as emotional stress, trauma, and ongoing health problems; certain lifestyle patterns; or taking certain drugs and medications.

Chronic insomnia can cause symptoms at night as well as during the day and can interfere with your ability to go on with your daily tasks.

Symptoms may include:

Sleep Problems Not Related To Age

At any age, its common to experience occasional sleep problems. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder:

  • Have trouble falling asleep even though you feel tired.
  • Have trouble getting back to sleep when awakened.
  • Dont feel refreshed after a nights sleep.
  • Feel irritable or sleepy during the day.
  • Have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television, or driving.
  • Have difficulty concentrating during the day.
  • Rely on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep.
  • Have trouble controlling your emotions.

Meditationto Cope With Insomnia

Meditation helps us relax our brains giving us a less stressful time. Meditating before bed can help us forget our worries before lying in bed meaning that we wont be kept up all night thinking about everything. To get a good nights sleep we need to put our worries and stress aside before bed time.

The Bottom Line On Grief And Sleep Loss

Whether or not your grief experience is complicated, you can expect it to take time to move past the shock and trauma of losing a loved one and re-frame your life without your dearly departed.

While poor sleep is a common feature of grief, remember there are things you can do to improve your sleep even as you grieve.

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of trauma. Learn about the . 

How To Cope Better With Stress

Insomnia

Stress is a prevalent part of every individuals life, but for many Americans, the pandemic has led to unprecedented stress levels. A survey by the American Psychological Association reveals two out of three adults report increased stress throughout the pandemic. This is compounded by existing stressors identified by the respondents: health care, mass shootings, finances, climate change, rising suicide rates, and drugs, to name a few. Increased stress affects people emotionally and physically, causing bodily tension, irritation, and mood swings. In a perfect world, you would simply remove these issues to reduce stress. In reality, the best you can do is to find ways to cope. Have a healthier approach to stress with these following tips:

Find A Fulfilling Job

There’s more to work than earning to pay the bills; it should also be something you are passionate about. One of the most stressful things adults experience is spending a significant amount of time doing work they dont enjoy.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people of all working backgrounds spend an average of eight hours working per day. Given that its a significant investment, it may be more helpful to commit to a more fulfilling and rewarding job. Doing something you love will reduce work-related stress and open more opportunities to be productive in the way you want.

Have A Bedtime Routine If Youd Like But Dont Freak Out If Its Different Each Night

A routine establishes a positive conditioning for sleep, says Tal. When you start your routine, your body gets the “hint” and starts to initiate the mechanisms for sleep.

It was important for me, however, to realize that Im someone who might be unmoored by obsessing over the ritual of what I do each night. During treatment, I liked to take a shower, have a warm glass of milk with honey and do some type of relaxing activity. Early on I found that if I didn’t do something exactly as I’d done it the night before, I would grow anxious over my ability to fall asleep that night. And then boom, no sleep. Instead, I now keep the overall framework of a nighttime routine but have let go of the specifics. One night, I may watch 20 minutes of a TV show, another I might read 10 pages of a book. I’ve done this so my brain doesn’t associate the particular ordering of activities with sleep. For me, the ritual was about relaxation, not rigidity.

What Started Off As A Typical Psychiatric Appointment Turned Into An Answer For A Life Long Condition

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What started off as being a typical psychiatric appointment turned into an answer for a chronic condition. I knew I had always had uncontrollable anxiety, but little did I know that I had insomnia as well.

Yes, I wasn’t the best sleeper, but I thought what I experienced was normal. I brought up to my doctor how I kept waking up every night at the same time and had trouble sleeping in. He then asked if I had trouble falling asleep and I admitted that sometimes I did. Little did I know that these three conditions are all associated with insomnia and I had been living with it all my life. 

There I was at 18 years old trying to connect the dots on how it never occurred to me that I had been living through sleepless nights without even questioning if something was wrong with me. I had been used to always being fatigued and walking around with a cloudy head that I just assumed it was normal. I asked my doctor what I could possibly do to ensure a better sleep and he gave me a few natural remedies. 

When To See A Doctor Or Sleep Specialist For Your Insomnia

If your insomnia is chronic or recurring and is preventing you from feeling rested and healthy, tell your doctor.

Seeing your physician or getting a referral to a sleep specialist can help you to determine if your insomnia has an underlying physical or psychological cause like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, depression, or some other health condition.

If your insomnia has no clear physical cause, a referral to a psychotherapist may be able to help with understanding and managing depression or anxiety. A therapist can also teach you cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to combat racing thoughts and worries that might be keeping you up at night.

Treating your insomnia is possible with the right help. The first step is to see a professional so you can better understand whats causing it.

Further Reading

What Are The Causes Of Insomnia

  • Adjustment insomnia
  • Sleep-restriction therapy

Sleep hygiene educationAddresses behaviors that are incompatible with sleep such as or alcohol use, environmental noise, inappropriate room temperature, and watching TV in bed.

Cognitive therapy and relaxation therapy

  • Correct inaccurate beliefs about sleep
  • Reduce fear and excessive worrying
  • Relaxation therapy: The patient is advised to recognize and control tension through a series of exercises that consist of first tensing and then systematically relaxing each muscle group.
  • Guided imagery and meditation to focus on neutral or pleasant thoughts

Stimulus-control therapyWorks by associating the bed with sleepiness instead of arousal. Rules for this therapy include:

  • Use the bed only for sleeping and sexual activity .
  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • If unable to fall asleep in 15-20 minutes, get out of bed to do something relaxing until sleepy; this can be repeated as often as needed.
  • Do not spend more time in bed than needed.
  • Establish a standard wake-up time.
  • Avoid daytime napping.

Sleep-restriction therapy

  • Sleep-restriction therapy is based on the fact that excessive time in bed can lead to insomnia. Limiting the time spent in bed leads to more efficient sleep.
  • Works by limiting time in bed to the patients estimated total sleep time and increasing it by 15-30 minutes for a given week period until the optimal sleep duration is achieved.

Medication to treat insomnia

Stop Reading About The Importance Of Sleep

Focusing too much on the importance of sleep is a big no-no. People with sleep anxiety know sleep is important it’s why we’re anxious! All those studies and articles about the benefits of a full night’s rest are meant for those who don’t prioritize sleep, not those who are desperate for it and make time for it, but still aren’t getting enough.

If you’re in generally good physical and mental health, your body can handle bouts of sleeplessness, according to Tal. It may be a tad uncomfortable, but it’s usually doable. Catastrophizing a sleepless night will only drag out the suffering.

Some experts suggest rewarding yourself, whether with a favorite food, a trip to the movies, whatever, the day after a bad nights sleep. Disassociate a bad nights sleep from having a bad day the next day. Dont lean in to the tiredness. I was actually surprised at how well I was able to function after a poor nights rest once I let go of how I was supposed to feel. Show your body and your brain that lost sleep is not as big a deal as youd made it out to be.

In fact, a 2017 study found that believing yourself to be an insomniac was a better predictor of daytime impairment than actually sleeping poorly.

Media Technology In The Bedroom

suggests that using devices with screens before bed can cause a loss of sleep in young people.

These devices can also harm sleep patterns in adults. Recreational use after lights-out appears to

  • over-the-counter sleep aids, some of which are available for purchase
  • melatonin, which is also available for purchase

However, there is not enough strong evidence to prove that melatonin helps with sleep.

A number of remedies and tips can help manage insomnia. They involve changes to:

Work Through Your Stress

How to effectively deal with Insomnia

If you’re losing sleep due to anxiety, you may be able to relax and get better sleep with a change of perspective. , including the type that keeps you up at night, is often a natural response to situations that need some sort of action. Viewing your situation as a challenge to be faced, rather than a threat, can help you get into an active, decision-making mode rather than remain in an anxious, passive state.

Looking at a situation from different angles can help you see opportunities you may have missed. Cognitive restructuring can help you change your perspective on a stressful situation.

Treat Congestion Acid Reflux And Coughs:

Many people suffering from heavy snoring and sleep apnea can also have other medical problems which can pose constraints against the normal bleeding including the heartburn or acid reflux. The nasal congestion can create problems in breathing through the nose and can worsen the symptoms and can even trigger the development of sleep apnea. It is also possible that the acid is making its way to the voice box and throat where it irritates and causes swelling of the throat muscles. The coughs can also irritate the upper airways and increase the snoring. Adjusting the diet and reducing the exposure to the allergies and raising the head while sleeping can reduce the congestion and reflux to a great extent.

Don’t Go To Bed Early After A Bad Night’s Sleep

“Going to be early after a bad night makes sense rationally. I lost sleep last night, I should get more sleep tonight to compensate,” Tal says. “With sleep and insomnia, unfortunately, this usually backfires: increased time in bed leads to increased time awake in bed, and this process teaches the body to stay awake in bed rather than sleep.” What to do instead? Go to bed at your regular time, do things you’d normally do, distract yourself, get tired!, then go to sleep. Equally as important: set an alarm for a normal wake time. Catching up on sleep is not as crucial as getting to a place where you’re sleeping consistently every night.

How Can I Improve My Sleep

This page has some tips and suggestions for improving your sleep.

Some people find these ideas useful, but remember that different things work for different people at different times.

Only try what you feel comfortable with, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn’t working for you , you can try something else, or come back to it another time.

Try to establish a routineaddremove

It could help to establish a regular sleeping routine or habits. You might need to try different things before you find what works for you.

You could try going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day. Or it might help to go to bed only once you feel ready to sleep, but still get up around the same time.

“I was told to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, but lying in bed, in the dark, for hours and hours … left me far too distressed to be able to fall asleep. So now I only go to bed when I feel like I will fall asleep within about 15 minutes or so, no matter what time of night that is, and then I try to get up at the same time every day.”

Relax before you try to sleepaddremove

You may find a routine can help you prepare for sleep. These are some ideas you could try.

Do something calming

For example, this could be listening to relaxing music or having a bath.

“A nicely made bed helps. If Im having an awful day, and the only thing Ive managed to find the energy to do is make my bed, then thats OK.”

Breathing exercises

Muscle relaxation

Common Psychological And Medical Causes Of Insomnia

Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when it is tied to an obviously temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.

Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Having difficulty sleeping can also make anxiety, stress, anddepression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include, worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.

Medical problems or illness. Many medical conditions and diseases can contribute to insomnia, including asthma, allergies, Parkinsons disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancer. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia.

Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including , stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine , diuretics, and slimming pills.

How Anxiety Can Affect Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to increased chances of anxiety, but anxiety can also cause a lack of sleep. Unfortunately, the two can intertwine quite a bit, causing one to exacerbate the other.

Anxiety can have a negative effect on your bodys ability to fall asleep as your brain is in fight or flight mode, thinking of all potential outcomes for whatever is causing the anxiety. Furthermore, anticipatory anxiety and specific anxiety about sleep can lead to sleep disturbance and insomnia, which then creates a feedback loop that can make both conditions worsen. Insomnia can also make you more irritable and more worried, as your brain is not getting all the sleep it needs in order to function at normal levels.

However, its not uncommon to experience anxiety related to sleep. As Winnie Yu, a writer for WebMD noted in her article Scared to Sleep,sleep anxiety is a form of performance anxiety. Many people may stress about not getting enough sleep to function, but the stress alone of trying to sleep can cause people to sit awake for hours. Additionally, other fears such as recurring nightmares, fear of sleep apnea , and more can all lead to disturbed sleep.

Tip 5: Reduce Mental Stress

Stress and anxiety built up during the day can also interfere with sleep at night. Its important to learn how to let go of thoughts and worries when its time to sleep.

  • Keep a journal to record worries before you retire.
  • On your to-do list, check off tasks completed, list your goals for tomorrow, and then let them go.
  • Listen to calming music.

Does Sleep Help Stress

Getting enough sleep on a nightly basis can alleviate stress quite effectively. Unfortunately, a good nights rest can be elusive if youre stressed out especially if sleep problems are a major source of your day-to-day anxieties.

There are other measures you can take to relieve stress. These include regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy support network of friends and family. However, keeping stress at bay often demands adequate sleep. National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.

Take The Pressure Off Sleep

How to deal with Insomnia

As mentioned, when losing sleep becomes a regular occurrence, bedtime itself can become stressful. If you’ve reached this point, there are a few things you can do to take the stress off insomnia.

First, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to get up and do something after a few minutes, when you’re sure that sleep is a long way off.

It’s also a good idea to use your bedroom primarily for sleep so that you associate your bed and your bedroom with sleep and not stress. Think of getting up and reading a book, getting things done around the house, and doing other not-too-stimulating activities that can help foster sleep when you’re ready. Also, avoid caffeine during the afternoon and evening.

The Relationship Between Sleep And Mental Health

The relationship between mental health and sleep isnt entirely understood yet. But according to Harvard Health Publishing, neurochemistry studies and neuroimaging suggests:

  • an adequate nights sleep helps nurture both mental and emotional resilience
  • chronic sleep disruptions might generate negative thinking and emotional sensibility

Its also implied that treating insomnia may help alleviate the symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder and vice versa.

Causes Of Insomnia: Figuring Out Why You Cant Sleep

In order to properly treat and cure your insomnia, you need to become a sleep detective. Emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression cause half of all insomnia cases. But your daytime habits, sleep routine, and physical health may also play a role. Try to identify all possible causes of your insomnia. Once you figure out the root cause, you can tailor treatment accordingly.

Take Pills For A Short Time

In most cases of insomnia, you shouldnt take pills. Because, If your brain starts relying on drugs to sleep, it will be hard for you to have a natural sound sleep. In some severe cases, doctors suggest some patients to relay . But, dont make it a habit. You shouldnt take medicines for an extended period.

And also, try not to take pills without the recommendation of your doctor. If you have to take medications, then take them as your doctor suggested. And please be aware of the side effects of the pills youre taking.

 

Treatment Of Chronic Insomnia

A number of at-home and professional treatment options are available for chronic insomnia. Treatment will depend on the cause of your insomnia and may involve medication or therapy to address an underlying condition.

Along with treating any existing conditions, your doctor may recommend one or a combination of treatment options for chronic insomnia.

How To Cope With Insomnia

This article was co-authored by Jeremy Bartz, PhD. Dr. Jeremy Bartz is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice based in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Bartz specializes in treating depression, anxiety, OCD, mind-body syndromes, chronic pain, insomnia, relationship difficulties, attachment trauma, and resolving the effects of narcissistic trauma. He received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Brigham Young University and completed a fellowship In Pain Psychology at Stanford’s premier pain management clinic.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 169,663 times.

You may see many articles on trying to get rid of insomnia, but for some people, living with it is the only option. Maximizing your diet to give you energy, trying to energize your body in other ways, and aiming to optimize what sleep you do get are some of the ways you can cope when you live with insomnia.

Limit Caffeine And Other Stimulants

For many people, cutting out caffeine from their diet can be very difficult, but caffeine can greatly hamper your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, as a stimulant, caffeine can make your anxiety much more pronounced, and you may have a difficult time calming down if you drink excessive amounts of coffee.

It could also be getting in the way of you achieving a good nights sleep. Try avoiding caffeine at least four to five hours prior to when you want to go to bed.

If you know of any other forms of stimulants that you may be taking, try avoiding those at least a few hours before bedtime, as well.

Additionally, some recent studies, such as oneconducted by Harvard Health, have come to find that blue light can keep the brain active, stimulated, and awake, as it suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. This is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, so try avoiding blue light, or wearing amber glasses to suppress the effects of the light, at least two hours prior to bedtime.

What To Do When You Cant Sleep: 9 Tips

Prioritizing a good nights sleep isnt just important for your general health, it can also help with feelings of anxiety, as your body is less likely to feel overwhelmed or on edge when youve slept well.

However, falling asleep can be difficult, so its important tobuild a strategy for a better nights sleep. Below are some tips to try in order to improve your chances of falling asleep naturally.

Turn Negative Sleep Thoughts Into Relaxation

Tips for Coping With Insomnia

Relaxation is an important behavioral technique for overcoming chronic insomnia. If I did not use relaxation, I doubt that I would have ever succeeded in controlling the sleeplessness.

Whenever I would think negative sleep thoughts, day or night, my body would automatically respond by increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and I would generally become tense and stiff. This is a normal bodily reaction to thinking a stressful thought.

When my body reacted in this way, it sent a reinforcing message to my subconscious that negative sleep thoughts are serious, nasty things. This only increased my anxiety and obsession with negative sleep thoughts and made it that much more difficult to control them and get some sleep.

After many years, I began to wonder what would happen if I responded differently to negative sleep thoughts. What if I made a conscious effort to not get so stressed physically in response to the thoughts? So I began to focus on relaxing my muscles and taking deep breaths when negative sleep thoughts popped into my head.

I got really good at relaxation after time and practice so that when a negative thought entered my head, I automatically relaxed my body. In other words, I turned things completely around. My automatic response before was to get tense, now my response was to relax.

Tips For Managing Sleeplessness

The following are some of the more effective, simplest strategies that you can start doing today to curb your insomnia and start sleeping better.

  • Go Running – Don’t run right before bed, since it will get your heart rate up which may cause you to stay up later, but do run a few hours before your bedtime, ideally before dinner. This will work your muscles and keep them in shape while also tiring them out and giving your brain a good reason to want to shut down for the night. Running also releases endorphins in the brain, which are your brains happy chemicals and can help balance out any sad or anxious chemicals your brain may be prone to producing.
  • Eat Lighter Dinners – Try eating a more substantial lunch during the day, and a less substantial dinner before bed. In Mediterranean countries, which are known for their healthy lifestyles and eating habits, lunch is usually bigger than dinner. That is because eating a large meal before dinner gives your stomach too much digestive work to do while you sleep to allow you to rest comfortably. This habit can also be good for your figure, as a smaller meal at dinner gives your body less fat to hold onto . Improving your physical health by eating properly is an excellent way to reduce your anxiety by reducing any extra strain unhealthy eating was putting on your body.
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