Insomnia Is A Common Complaint
Over one third of people experience insomnia from time to time, but only around five per cent need treatment for the condition. Transient or short-term insomnia is typically caused by such things as stressful life events, jet lag, changes in sleeping environments, some acute medical illnesses and stimulant medications. Normal sleeping habits return once the acute event is over.If a person has experienced sleeping difficulties for a month or more, this is called persistent or chronic insomnia. There are many causes of persistent insomnia. These include:
- Secondary insomnia due to a range of medical and psychiatric problems and the chronic use of drugs and alcohol.
- Primary sleep disorders include circadian rhythm disorders, central sleep apnoea-insomnia syndrome, inadequate sleep syndromes and periodic limb movement or restless legs syndromes.
- Idiopathic insomnia sleeplessness without a known cause, formerly called childhood onset insomnia.
Behavioural And Cognitive Therapies
If you have severe persistent poor sleep, your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or other health professional for psychological treatments. These are various therapies which help re-train your brain and the way you feel, think or behave. Research studies have found that there is a good chance that behavioural and cognitive therapies will improve sleep in adults with insomnia. Increasingly, research has also shown that some of these therapies can be delivered digitally .
There are various types of therapy and they include the following:
Stimulus-control therapy. This helps you to re-associate the bed and bedroom with sleep and to re-establish a consistent sleep/wake pattern.
Sleep restriction therapy. Very briefly, the principle of this treatment is that you limit the time that you spend in bed at night. As things improve, the time in bed is then lengthened. An example of the way that this may be done in practice is as follows:
Relaxation training. This teaches you ways of reducing tension. For example, this may include the progressive muscle relaxation technique as described earlier, plus various other techniques described earlier.
Paradoxical intention. This involves staying passively awake, avoiding any intention to fall asleep. It is used for people who have trouble getting to sleep .
Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is often used in combination with a behavioural intervention ; this is then called cognitive behavioural therapy .
How To Sleep Better: Exercise
Regular exercise is another part of a good sleep hygiene program. However, choosing the times of day that you exercise is important. Exercising in the late afternoon can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. However, exercise within a few hours before going to sleep may actually make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. People who exercise regularly, in general, have less incidence and risk for insomnia.
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Testing & Sleep Studies
If youve been struggling at night to fall or stay asleep, you may want to get tested for insomnia. There is no one definitive;test;for;insomnia that doctors use, but signs and clues that can lead to a diagnosis. If you find that you repeatedly cant sleep, first discuss potential insomnia causes with your doctor and/or therapist. Let your doctor know about all insomnia symptoms youre experiencing, including those that are emotional and physical. He or she will likely want to perform a medical exam, talk to you about any recent life changes and discuss your medical history.
Your doctor might also suggest that you take part in a sleep study test. Sleep studies/sleep tests are used to determine if insomnia is caused;by conditions such as;breathing problems, sleep apnea or limb movement disorders .
An insomnia test is conducted at a sleep laboratory that has rooms for you to sleep in for 12 nights. During your sleep, you will be connected to an EEG and monitored at different stages of sleep in order to indicate how long you spend in deep, restful sleep. This is a non-invasive test that is used to indicate the extent of your sleeping difficulty. Your body movements, breathing patterns, heart rate and oxygen levels overnight will also be tested.
Causes Of Insomnia: Mental Health
Poor sleep hygiene is not the only cause of insomnia. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress may also cause insomnia. In addition, medications used to treat some of these mental health problems may also cause or increase sleep problems. Discuss any sleep-related problems you think are caused by medications with your physician.
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Can I Take An Over
OTC medicines, or sleep aids, may help some people with insomnia symptoms, but they are not meant for regular or long-term use. Many OTC sleep medicines contain that are usually used to treat allergies.
If you decide to use an OTC sleep medicine:
- Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about any warnings and potential side effects of the medicine.
- Take the medicine at the time of day your doctor tells you to.
- Do not drive or do other activities that require you to be alert and sober.
- Take only the amount of medicine suggested by your doctor.
- Tell your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about all other medicines you take, both over-the-counter and prescription.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Do not use drugs that your doctor has not prescribed to you.
When Should I See My Doctor
It is a good idea to see your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping or you are having problems with your mood, feeling restless in bed, snoring badly or waking up not feeling refreshed. Keeping a sleep diary is a good way to track symptoms, which you can share with your health professional.
If they think you have insomnia, your doctor may refer you to see a sleep specialist or psychologist.
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Reduce The Pressure 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 many methods to fight this vicious cycle. One effective way is making sure to include foods full of omega-3 in your diet, such as poultry fish or linseed. You can also try listening to music.
There are three common reactions to stress, none of them are good for your health nor to your sleep either:
- Overthinking a problem
Why Is Sleep Important For Our Health
Sleep and sleep-related problems play a role in a large number of human disorders and affect almost every field of medicine. For example, problems like stroke and asthma attacks tend to occur more frequently during the night and early morning, perhaps due to changes in hormones, heart rate, and other characteristics associated with sleep. Sleep also affects some kinds of epilepsy in complex ways. REM sleep seems to help prevent seizures that begin in one part of the brain from spreading to other brain regions, while deep sleep may promote the spread of these seizures. Sleep deprivation also triggers seizures in people with some types of epilepsy.
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Favorite Insomnia Advocacy Groups
Project Sleep is nonprofit organization dedicated to raising sleep disorder awareness and providing help to those with sleep disorders. The group awards scholarships to support students with sleep disorders and hosts events to raise help raise awareness about sleep disorders and the importance of sleep health. The group also disseminates information about how to support sleep disorders research.
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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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What You Can Do About It
There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good nights sleep if you have insomnia.
- setting regular times for going to bed and waking up
- relaxing before bed time; try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
- using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
- avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals;and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
- not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before;going to bed;
- not napping during the day
- writing a list of your worries, and any ideas;about;how to;solve them, before going to bed to help you forget about;them until the morning
Some people find over-the-counter sleeping tablets helpful, but they dont address the underlying problem and can have troublesome side effects.
Risk Factors For Developing Insomnia
It can affect anyone at any time in their life. But certain factors may increase your risk. For example, women are more likely than men to develop the sleep disorder.2
According to the Mayo Clinic, people over the age of 60 are also at a higher risk, possibly due to changes in sleep patterns as you age. Having an irregular sleep schedule is also a risk factor. For instance, if you go to bed at all different times or work different shifts, which disrupts your regular sleep hours, it can increase your chance of developing the sleep disorder.
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Get Up At The Same Time Daily
Creating a routine can be an effective way to combat sleep anxiety and insomnia. By getting up at the same time every day, your body will naturally start to adjust your internal clock or circadian rhythm.
One sleep study, highlighted in the Guardian as;A Cure for Insomnia, found that getting up at the same time every day helped the participants body feel sleepy around the same time every night. Over time, this helped the participants bedtimes become consistent.
However, creating a nighttime routine can also have similar effects. Winnie Yu for WebMD suggests creating a nightly routine can help relax your body as it starts to anticipate and expect sleep as you follow through each step. It can also help relieve anxiety, as you know what to expect each night and each morning.
Treating Insomnia With A Better Sleep Environment And Routine
Two powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia are a quiet, comfortable bedroom and a relaxing bedtime routine. Both can make a big difference in improving the quality of your sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, a bedroom thats too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable mattress or pillow can all interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to mask outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide the support you need to sleep comfortably.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning even if youre tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.;Electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts your bodys production of melatonin and combats sleepiness. So instead of watching TV or spending time on your phone, tablet, or computer, choose another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime.;This includes checking messages on social media, big discussions or arguments with your spouse or family, or catching up on work. Postpone these things until the morning.
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How To Get Rid Of Anxiety So You Can Sleep Better
If youre struggling to fall asleep due to anxiety, it could be that treating the anxiety will help solve your insomnia and lack of sleep as well. Anxiety disorders should only be diagnosed by a licensed therapist or medical professional, and these professionals can also help you find treatment regimens as well as, potentially, medications to control the condition. You should not try to self-medicate for anxiety disorders, and should only medicate per the medical advice and supervision of a psychiatrist.
One of the most common and effective treatments for anxiety disorders is continued and guided therapy with a professional counselor or therapist.
The branch of therapy known as;Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be effective for many people, as it helps patients suffering from anxiety disorders create new, positive thought pathways that can help when in anxious situations. There are three different types of CBT, each with an individualized approach in treatment, including interpersonal therapy, thought records, and modern exposure therapy.
Another form of therapy is;Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT. This form of therapy is more focused on mindfulness training and taking action based on personal values, and is unique in that it is not focused on symptom reduction.
Shifting Your Perspective
What It Is How It Affects You And How To Help You Get Back Your Restful Nights
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicines ICSD-3 manual, insomnia is defined as persistent difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation or quality. Insomnia has many potential contributing factors and symptoms, but its diagnosis hinges on two essential components: sleep difficulties that occur despite adequate opportunities for normal sleep, and daytime impairment that directly results from poor sleep quality or duration.
Chronic insomnia is characterized by symptoms that occur at least three times per week for at least three months. Insomnia that lasts or less than three months is known as short-term insomnia. In rare cases, patients may exhibit insomnia symptoms without meeting the criteria for short-term insomnia and may warrant some form of treatment. This is known as other insomnia.
While insomnia can manifest in different ways, most diagnoses fall into one of two categories:
Some people may have mixed insomnia that involves both sleep-onset and sleep maintenance difficulties, and people with chronic insomnia may find that these symptoms shift over time.
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Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discoveries to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including insomnia. Learn about current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.
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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Specific Foods That Can Affect Sleep
Researchers, including nutritionists and sleep experts, have conducted different types of studies to try to discover the best foods for sleep. While this research provides important clues, its not conclusive. In general, theres a lack of direct evidence about specific foods that are good for sleep.
In addition, the range of varieties of cultivars of most foods means that their nutrient profile can be inconsistent. For example, some varieties of red grapes have high levels of melatonin while others have virtually none. Climate and growing conditions may further alter the nutrients in any particular food product.
That said, there are indications that certain foods can make you sleepy or promote better sleep. Sometimes this is based on a particular research study and in other cases on the underlying nutritional components of the food or drink.
Dietary choices affect more than just energy and sleepiness; they can play a major role in things like weight, cardiovascular health, and blood sugar levels just to name a few. For that reason, its best to consult with a doctor or dietician before making significant changes to your daily diet. Doing so helps ensure that your food choices support not just your sleep but all of your other health priorities as well.