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How To Help People With Insomnia

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Challenging The Worries And Thoughts That Fuel Insomnia

How does insomnia affect a person’s health?

Its also helpful to challenge the negative attitudes about sleep and your insomnia problem that youve developed over time. The key is to recognize self-defeating thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones.

Challenging self-defeating thoughts that fuel insomnia
Self-defeating thought:Sleep-promoting comeback:
Unrealistic expectations: I should be able to sleep well every night like a normal person. I shouldnt have a problem!Lots of people struggle with sleep from time to time. I will be able to sleep with the right techniques.
Exaggeration: Its the same every single night, another night of sleepless misery.Not every night is the same. Some nights I do sleep better than others.
Catastrophizing: If I dont get some sleep, Ill tank my presentation and jeopardize my job.I can get through the presentation even if Im tired. I can still rest and relax tonight, even if I cant sleep.
Hopelessness: Im never going to be able to sleep well. Its out of my control.Insomnia can be cured. If I stop worrying so much and focus on positive solutions, I can beat it.
Fortune telling: Its going to take me at least an hour to get to sleep tonight. I just know it.I dont know what will happen tonight. Maybe Ill get to sleep quickly if I use the strategies Ive learned.

Establish A Relaxing Nighttime Routine

It is an especially good idea to avoid stress and do relaxing activities in the evening. Do not work at night. Avoid emotionally upsetting conversations, scary movies, and thrilling novels. If you are a worrier, scribble your thoughts and feelings down in a journal to help get them off your mind. Wind down before bed by taking a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, meditating, or reading a soothing book. Meditating for as little as 10 minutes a day benefits both body and mind.

Treating Insomnia: Behavioral Therapy

If good sleep hygiene doesn’t solve your sleeping problems, behavioral therapy may. Here is a quick summary of some techniques:

Relaxation training. Learn deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, or meditation. Relaxing your mind at bedtime will help you drift off to sleep.

Stimulus control therapy. Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Don’t read, watch TV, snack, or listen to music in bed. Get up at the same time every day, no matter how little you’ve slept. Avoid daytime napping.

Sleep restriction therapy. Reduce your time in bed to the estimated total time you actually sleep in an average night by going to bed later, but don’t go below five hours. Make the change by getting into bed later, not getting up earlier. Get up at the same time every day. Maintain the same bedtime every night for a week, and then move it 15 minutes earlier every week until you get a satisfying, refreshing amount of sleep. Then maintain the same schedule every day.

Cognitive therapy. Learn to replace negative thoughts about sleep with positive thoughts .

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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, and;depression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include;anger, 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 antidepressants, 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.

Secrets To A Good Night’s Sleep

Get Rid of Sleep Anxiety and Insomnia: Your Guide to a ...

Tired of feeling tired? Here are some simple tips to help you get to sleep.

After a night spent tossing and turning, you wake up feeling like a couple of the Seven Dwarves: sleepyand grumpy. Restless nights and weary mornings can become more frequent as we get older and our sleep patterns changewhich often begins around the time of menopause, when hot flashes and other symptoms awaken us.

“Later in life there tends to be a decrease in the number of hours slept,” says Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital. “There are also some changes in the way the body regulates circadian rhythms,” she adds. This internal clock helps your body respond to changes in light and dark. When it undergoes a shift with age, it can be harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but when insomnia persists day after day, it can become a real problem. Beyond making us tired and moody, a lack of sleep can have serious effects on our health, increasing our propensity for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

You don’t need to avoid sleep aids if you absolutely need them, but before you turn to pills, try these eight tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

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The Symptoms Of Insomnia

While acute insomnia often resolves on its own, chronic insomnia usually needs treatment. How do you know if its chronic? Its the rule of threes: If your sleep problems happen more than three times a week and last more than three months, you may have chronic insomnia.

People with chronic insomnia also experience daytime symptoms, including:

  • Feeling tired or fatigued. ;
  • Irritability or a depressed mood. ;
  • Problems with concentration or memory.

Losing your sleep battle can affect every part of your life. It can spill into your day as you struggle with fatigue and decreased attention. Its also associated with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and substance use disorder. Eventually, it can lead to heart disease, depression and injury from falls or other accidents.

Natural Insomnia Remedies To Help You Sleep Better Tonight

Olivia Hartland-Robbins


Whether youre worried about that virus or general life pressures are mounting, there seems to be a lot of insomnia about right now for World Sleep Day, Olivia Hartland-Robbins finds out what natural remedies will help you sleep

While some people are able to cope with little sleep, the majority of us cannot, and we tend to feel the effects when we find it hard to function properly the following day.

Weve all had trouble sleeping at one time or another, whether its chronic insomnia or just a bad night. But good quality sleep is arguably the most important thing we need when it comes to optimal health.

Yet these days, many of us are simply not getting enough. Most peoples bedtime routine includes flicking through their phone, regretting having a coffee after 5pm and not being able to quiet their busy thoughts sound familiar?

Why arent we sleeping?

Insomnia is a disorder where you find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or you continuously have a disturbed nights sleep.

There are many causes of insomnia such as; a room thats too hot or cold, an uncomfortable bed, alcohol, caffeine or nicotine, jet lag, shift work, anxiety or depression.

Most of us have suffered from insomnia at some stage of our lives, but tend to notice it more when we are worried or stressed and it turns out very few of us are able to switch off or stop our minds from racing after a stressful or busy day.

Why is sleep so important?

#3 Take magnesium

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Avoid Tobacco For Better Sleep

Nicotine has an effect on neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that influence mood and sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant and can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Studies have proven that nicotine increases insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and sleep problems. Nicotine use suppresses restorative REM sleep. Smoking increases sleep-related respiratory problems. See your doctor if you’d like to quit smoking. There are medications and nicotine-replacement products that can help you wean off slowly and quit. Don’t be discouraged if you fall off the wagon. Many people try to quit a few times before they finally kick the nicotine habit for good. Many people are concerned about weight gain when they quit. Your doctor can advise you about diet and exercise strategies to combat that.

Sleeping Pills To Treat Insomnia


Drug therapy is the most common conventional treatment for how to beat insomnia.10 Drugs called non-benzodiazepine receptor agonists are most commonly prescribed. These include zolpidem , eszopiclone , and zaleplon . These drugs are moderately effective in the short-term, widely available and, when effective, begin working rapidly.

The disadvantages are the potential for side effects, dependence, and tolerance over time. Potential adverse effects of these drugs include residual sedation , falls, undesired behaviors during sleep, rebound insomnia, and drug interactions.

Tolerance and dependence develop, and the higher the dose and the longer you use sleeping pills like zolpidem, the more intensely you become physically dependent on these drugs to be able to sleep. Perhaps the most important disadvantage is that medications are usually not curative, leading to long-term treatment over many years despite a lack of safety and efficacy data for their use beyond one to twoyears.

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How Much Sleep Do We Need

The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age. Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about 9 hours on average. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual.;

People tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans as they get older, although they generally need about the same amount of sleep as they needed in early adulthood. About half of all people over 65 have frequent sleeping problems, such as insomnia, and deep sleep stages in many elderly people often become very short or stop completely. This change may be a normal part of aging, or it may result from medical problems that are common in elderly people and from the medications and other treatments for those problems

The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a sleep debt, which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. We dont seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.

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Meditation And Relaxation Techniques

A regular meditation practice may help to promote sleep by slowing breathing and;reducing stress hormone levels.;Meditation is a technique that involves consciously directing one’s attention to an object of focus in order to increase awareness, relax the body, and calm the mind.

Some types of meditation include;guided meditation, vipassana meditation, yoga nidra, or;body scan. Also try:

  • Visualization: Visualization involves actively imagining a relaxing scene. You can try it in bed for 20 minutes before falling asleep. Involve all your senses. If you’re imagining yourself on a tropical island, think of the way the warm breeze feels against your skin. Imagine the sweet scent of the flowers, look at the water and listen;to the waves. The more vivid the visualization and the more senses you involve, the more effective it will be.
  • Relaxation response: This is a mind/body response that occurs after following specific instructions;patterned closely after;Transcendental Meditation.
  • Mindfulness: This type of meditation essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present.

Early;evidence suggests that meditation techniques may improve sleep. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says relaxation techniques have enough evidence to say they can be helpful for insomnia. But further research is still needed.

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Relieving Anxiety That Keeps You From Falling Or Staying Asleep

If sleep worries are getting in the way of your ability to unwind at night, the following strategies may help. The goal is to train your body to associate the bed with sleep and nothing elseespecially not frustration and anxiety.

Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex. With many of us working from home now, it can be difficult to avoid, but if possible dont work, use your computer, or watch TV in your bedroom. The goal is to associate the bedroom with sleep alone, so that your brain and body get a strong signal that its time to nod off when you get into bed.

Move bedroom clocks out of view.;Anxiously watching the minutes tick by when you cant sleepknowing that youre going to be exhausted when the alarm goes offis a surefire recipe for insomnia. You can use an alarm, but make sure you cant see the time when youre in bed.

Get out of bed when you cant sleep. Dont try to force yourself to sleep. Tossing and turning only amps up your anxiety. Get up, leave the bedroom, and do something relaxing, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath. When youre sleepy, go back to bed.

Reduce The Stress Level


Anxiety is directly associated with sleep. When you are stressed, you sleep badly; and lack of sleep increases the levels of stress even more.

Fortunately, there are lots of methods to combat this vicious cycle. One effective way is making sure to include foods rich in omega-3 on your diet, like poultry fish or linseed. You may also try listening to music.

There are three common responses to stress, none of them are good for your health nor to your sleep either:

  • Overthinking a difficulty
  • Overreacting to a problem
  • Grow emotionally unstable over a problem

When someone finds what works for them in diffusing stress, the preferred coping mechanism becomes a natural response where they can easily fall into it with regular practice.

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Can My Insomnia Be Cured

Absolutely. It may not be easy though, as curing insomnia often means improving your sleep hygiene and establishing habits that are more conducive to good sleep. And habits, especially routines you follow every day, can be tough to break.

But it is possible. And according to Aouad, each small step you take to establish better sleep is an important one.

I think people underestimate how much making small changes to their habits can be beneficial, Aouad says. Even though those habits can be hard to change, gradually changing them over time can really improve someones sleep.

Behavioral Interventions For Insomnia: Chronology

Early psychological treatments for insomnia focused on primary insomnia. Application of behavioral therapeutic approaches in the treatment of insomnia began with interventions such as systematic desensitization, relaxation, hypnosis, biofeedback, and paradoxical intention which targeted hyperarousal associated with insomnia. During the 1970s, stimulus control therapy for insomnia was introduced. In the late 1980s, a new behavioral intervention, sleep restriction, was introduced. Around the same time, the application of cognitive restructuring for dysfunctional beliefs related to insomnia was proposed and subsequently formalized and integrated into several multi-component treatments of insomnia.

Effective treatment of insomnia must address the cognitive and behavioral mechanisms that maintain insomnia. Therefore, the best practices of nonpharmacological treatments for insomnia target both dysfunctional attitudes and beliefs about sleep and maladaptive behaviors that maintain abnormal sleep patterns. In recent years, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia , which combines different behavioral therapies and cognitive therapy techniques, has emerged as preferred treatment for insomnia.

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Five Tips For Better Sleep

Drink up.;No, not alcohol, which can interfere with sleep. Gamaldo recommends warm milk, chamomile tea and tart cherry juice for patients with sleep trouble.

Though there isnt much scientific proof that any of these nighttime drinks work to improve your slumber, theres no harm in trying them, Gamaldo says. She recommends them to patients who want treatment without side effects or drug interactions.

Warm milk has long been believed to be associated with chemicals that simulate the effects of tryptophan on the brain. This is a chemical building block for the substance serotonin, which is involved in the sleep-wake transition, Gamaldo says.

Chamomile tea can also be helpful. Its believed to have flavonoids that may interact with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain that are also involved with the sleep-wake transition, she says.

Plus, chamomile tea doesnt have caffeine, unlike green tea or Earl Grey. Finally, tart cherry juice might support melatonin production and support a healthy sleep cycle.

Exercise;. Physical activity can improve sleep, though researchers arent completely sure why. Its known that moderate aerobic exercise boosts the amount of nourishing slow wave sleep you get.;But you have to time it right: Gamaldo says that;aerobic exercise;releases endorphins, chemicals that keep people awake.

Using Cognitive Behavior Therapy To Fight Insomnia

How To Overcome Insomnia

Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer notes that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is probably the most effective treatment for chronic insomnia. CBT-i requires some effort, but its proven to help people return to more normal sleep patterns. And bonus: Behavioral treatments are more effective and longer-lasting than sleep aids.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is our treatment of choice, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says. About 70 to 80% of people have improvement without the use of medication so its effective.

The goal of this ongoing therapy is to help you change your sleep-related thinking, habits, schedules and behaviors. For example, you may need to change your habit of using your bed for activities such as working on your laptop.

CBT-i also includes regular follow-up visits with a behavioral sleep medicine specialist. This therapist may:

  • Have you keep a sleep diary
  • Examine your sleep/wake habits to pinpoint the actions that are preventing you from sleeping soundly
  • Educate you about sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques

To find a sleep specialist, ask your doctor for a referral. But dont despair if there isnt one in your area. Other effective options are available, including Cleveland Clinics online Go! To Sleep program.

Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer adds that one of the best things you can do to take back the night is stay consistent. We need to be more mindful of our sleep routines, she says. Your brain likes routine.

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