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What To Do For Insomnia

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Focus On Your Breathing

What to do about Insomnia

If youre having trouble sleeping at night, you might want to turn inward and try focusing on your breathing. One way to do this is with controlled breathing methods or a series of slow, deep breaths that can help you feel calm. Dr. Andrew Weil, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona, suggests using the 4-7-8 method, which uses your breath to help distract you from sleep anxiety.

Heres how to practice the 4-7-8 method when you cant sleep:

  • Slowly exhale all of your breath until your lungs are completely empty.
  • Breath in through your nose for four seconds.
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  • Exhale for eight seconds.
  • Repeat this method at least four times.
  • Seeing A Psychologist About Sleep Disorders

    In many cases, people experience insomnia because they develop a pattern of behavior that interferes with good sleep habits. Sleeping difficulties are often connected to underlying problems such as stress, depression or anxiety.

    It is a good idea to consult with a physician or another medical professional to learn if medical issues may be contributing to your sleep difficulties and treat related medical problems. Seeing a psychologist may also help you address sleep problems. Psychologists can help people change their behaviors and manage the thoughts, feelings and emotions that can interfere with a healthy night’s sleep. Licensed psychologists have the professional training and skills to treat individuals suffering from depression and anxiety, which have been linked to sleep problems like insomnia.

    In working with a psychologist, you can expect to talk about your overall physical and emotional health, and your health beliefs and behaviors. A psychologist will help you identify any underlying stressors and behaviors that may be interfering with sleep.

    Insomnia: Restoring Restful Sleep

    Nearly everyone has spent at least one night lying in bed wishing for sleep. But for many men, it’s a nightly struggle. A lucky few get relief from counting sheep, watching late-night movies, or sipping warm milk but most people with insomnia need more assistance. Fortunately, lifestyle changes and behavioral treatment can help many sufferers, and medication is available for those who need it.

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    Fix Your Sleeping Schedule

    It all starts here. Our body and mind needs to know when it is time to go to bed and when to wake up. It is ideal to have a routine and go to sleep at the same time every day.

    You can slowly get into the right sleeping schedule by waking up a little earlier every morning. This will make you sleepy a bit earlier.

    How Much Sleep Do I Need


    Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. You know youre getting enough sleep if you dont feel sleepy during the day. The amount of sleep you need stays about the same throughout adulthood. However, sleep patterns may change as you age, and become less deep and restful. That is why older people may sleep less at night and take naps during the day.

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    Definition Of Chronic Insomnia

    Although there are various definitions of chronic insomnia, the most widely accepted is the one that defines it to be a condition characterized by “inadequate quantity or quality of sleep characterized by a subjective report of difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate opportunity for sleep, and that results in some form of daytime impairment and has persisted for at least one month”. The causes of this are many, the most important of which are medications, drug or alcohol abuse, psychiatric disorders like depression or anxiety, medical disorders , poor sleep hygiene, and other disorders like sleep apnea, periodic limb movements, conditioned insomnia , restless legs syndrome, circadian rhythm disorder or advanced/delayed sleep-phase syndrome. Neurological causes such as fibromyalgia and Morvan’s syndrome, medical causes such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, and in children, sleep-onset association disorder and limit-setting sleep disorder also need to be identified and addressed since these can commonly present as chronic insomnia.

    How To Relieve Insomnia Without Medication: Part 1

    Feeling sleepy? Youre not alone. According to the CDC, on any given day, as many as one in five adults suffers from an insufficient amount of sleep! Insomnia affects adolescents, adults and the elderly. And as we age, sleep can become even more elusive, so developing good sleep habits when youre younger can pay off later in life.

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    Mind Your Circadian Rhythm

    Going to bed and waking up the same time every day, even on the weekends, can help you get good sleep. Maintaining a sleep schedule helps your body have a consistent sleep-wake cycle. Over time, this will help you get to sleep quickly and get deep sleep throughout the night. Another way to optimize your sleep patterns is to get adequate sunlight as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Go outside without sun glasses and get 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure to tell your brain to wake up. Early morning sun exposure also increases the production of melatonin.

    Is Insomnia A Serious Problem

    How to Diagnose Insomnia | Insomnia

    Getting enough sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Insomnia can affect you mentally and physically. It can make you feel tired, depressed, and irritable. It can also make it hard for you to concentrate or perform tasks during the day. If you have insomnia, you may worry about being able to sleep. Sometimes this can make sleeping harder.

    If you dont get enough sleep on a regular basis, youre at increased risk of diseases. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

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    Insomnia Causes And Symptoms

    Insomnia is believed to originate due to a state of hyperarousal that can impact sleep-onset and sleep maintenance. Hyperarousal can be mental, physical, or a combination of both. Environmental, physiological, and psychological factors can all play a role in insomnia. These include the following:

    Insomnia has also been linked to unhealthy lifestyle and sleep habits. Many people adopt these habits when they are younger, making them hard to break as adults. These habits can include going to bed at a different time each night or napping too long during the day. Exposure to screen devices like computers, televisions, and cell phones can also cause sleep problems, as can working evening or night shifts. Other factors can cause difficulty falling or staying asleep, such as inadequate exercise during the day or excessive noise and/or light in the sleepers bedroom.

    The most common symptoms among chronic insomnia patients include difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, waking up earlier than planned, and not feeling tired or ready for bed at scheduled times. Daytime impairment is a necessary component of insomnia, and this can also manifest in different ways. Common impairments include fatigue and malaise, memory and concentration difficulties, mood disturbances and irritability, and behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and aggression.

    Tips For Taking Sleep Aids

    If you have a string of wakeful nights, you may want to talk to your doctor about trying an over-the-counter sleep aid. Sleep aids work by activating the sleep centers in the brain and turning off the wake centers, explains Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer. But you have to be careful. People start to think they must reach for something to get sleep at night. When that happens, medication can turn an acute case into a chronic one.

    She doesnt recommend options such as Benadryl® or alcohol. While they seem to help, they dont enhance the quality of your sleep. Even the short-term relief that comes with taking prescriptions like Ambien® may not outweigh the long-term risks of dependency.

    But be sure to talk to your doctor if your sleep aid doesnt work, does more harm than good or youre concerned about ongoing insomnia and other symptoms.

    To use sleep aids safely, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says to follow these tips.

    Allow enough time for a full nights sleep

    Most sleep aids recommend that you devote a full eight hours to sleep, so make sure you are sleeping enough, says Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer. You want sleep aids to help you fall asleep, but not leave you groggy the next day.

    Sleep aids are designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer, but they shouldnt knock you out. If you have significant difficulty waking up in the morning, tell your doctor.

    Watch for side effects

    Only take pills for a short time

    Dont stop taking a sleep aid suddenly

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    How Coronasomnia Impacts Your Health

    However, all of this stress and lack of sleep can have big, negative impacts on your overall health. One concern thats specific to the pandemic, Dr. Drerup says, is the effect on our immune system. When someone is chronically sleep-deprived, she says, they tend to have lowered immunity and that makes our susceptibility to viruses higher.

    A lack of sleep also has a negative impact on our emotional regulation and mood. If were already feeling stressed about the virus, Dr. Drerup points out, then lack of sleep will drive that up.

    When were getting a healthy amount of sleep, we tend to have better cognitive functions, she adds, so things like memory and decision making can be impacted by poor sleep.

    The rest of your body can suffer from a chronic loss of sleep, as well, leading to issues with worsening cardiovascular and metabolic issues, including an increased risk of weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure.

    While these are bad enough, happening during the stress of a pandemic can compound the issues. Its that vicious cycle, Dr. Drerup says. If Im tired, Im going to be less likely to exercise and Im going to be less likely to do things that actually enhance my mood. And it compounds those other anxieties and stressors and even depression that people might already be experiencing.

    Find Out What Keeps You Awake

    How to know if you have insomnia and what you can do to treat your ...

    To figure out the cause of your insomnia, try keeping a sleep diary. For a week or two, jot down details like:

    • When you go to sleep and wake up each morning
    • How quickly you fall asleep
    • Do you feel rested when you wake up?
    • Does another person or a pet share a bed with you?
    • Did you read or use a screen while in bed?
    • What wakes you up
    • If you drink alcohol or caffeine or smoke tobacco before bedtime
    • Your exercise schedule
    • Any new or different sleep medications you take
    • Your mood each day

    You can write this down in a notebook or find an online sleep diary to fill out. When youâre done, look back through it to see if you notice any patterns.

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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.

    How Can I Prevent Insomnia

    Lifestyle changes and improvements to your bedtime routine and bedroom setup can often help you sleep better:

    • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bed.
    • Be physically active during the day, outside if possible.
    • Cut back on caffeine, including coffee, sodas and chocolate, throughout the day and especially at night.
    • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.
    • Put away smartphones, TVs, laptops or other screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
    • Turn your bedroom into a dark, quiet, cool sanctuary.
    • Unwind with soothing music, a good book or meditation.

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    Do Complementary Or Alternative Sleep Aids Work

    There isn’t enough scientific evidence to say whether most complementary and alternative sleep aids help treat insomnia.24

    • Certain relaxation techniques may be safe and effective in treating long-term insomnia. These techniques include using music, meditation, and yoga to relax the mind and body before sleeping.24
    • Some dietary supplements also claim to help people sleep. Manufacturers may label dietary supplements like melatonin as a “natural” product. Most of these products have not been proven to help people with insomnia. Melatonin may be useful for treating short-term insomnia for shift workers or people who have jet lag, but you should probably not take it long-term.24

    The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements like vitamins, minerals, and herbs in the same way it regulates medicines. Use this Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions tool to learn how dietary supplements may interact with the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take.

    How Does Insomnia Affect Women’s Health

    What Is Insomnia? | Insomnia

    Insomnia can cause you to feel tired, anxious, or irritable in the short term. Over time, lack of sleep may increase your risk for more serious problems, including:

    • Accidents
    • Health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure3,9
    • Increased risk for falls, especially in older women17

    Women who have long-term insomnia may be more at risk than men with long-term insomnia for mood problems, heart disease and stroke, and obesity.18

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    How Much Sleep Do Most People Need

    Most adults need around seven to nine hours of sleep per night but the amount of sleep needed to function at your best varies between individuals. The quality of your rest matters just as much as the quantity. Tossing and turning and repeatedly awakening is as bad for your health as being unable to fall asleep.

    What Are The Types Of Insomnia

    Insomnia can come and go, or it may be an ongoing, longstanding issue. There is short term insomnia and chronic insomnia:

    • Short term insomnia tends to last for a few days or weeks and is often triggered by stress.
    • Chronic insomnia is when the sleep difficulties occur at least three times a week for three months or longer.

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    How Is Insomnia Managed Or Treated

    Short-term insomnia often gets better on its own. For chronic insomnia, your healthcare provider may recommend:

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia: Therapy : CBT-I is a brief, structured intervention for insomnia that helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. Unlike sleeping pills, CBT-I helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems.
    • Medications: Behavior and lifestyle changes can best help you improve your sleep over the long term. In some cases, though, taking sleeping pills for a short time can help you sleep. Doctors recommend taking sleep medicines only now and then or only for a short time. They are not the first choice for treating chronic insomnia.

    How Is Insomnia Treated

    A Brief Guide to Chronic Insomnia Disorder

    If your insomnia is caused by a short-term change in your sleep/wake schedule, such as with jet lag, your sleep schedule will probably return to normal on its own.

    Chronic or long-term insomnia can be treated with steps you can try at home to sleep better, cognitive behavioral therapy , and prescription medicines.

    If insomnia is a symptom or side effect of another health problem, your doctor may recommend treating the other health problem at the same time. When the other health problem is treated, secondary insomnia often goes away on its own. For example, if menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, are keeping you awake, your doctor might try treating your hot flashes first. Research suggests that older women who use hormone replacement therapy, eat healthy foods based on a Mediterranean diet, and limit how much caffeine and alcohol they drink may have fewer sleep problems than women who did not do those things.20

    Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have symptoms of insomnia, and ask about the best ways to treat insomnia.

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    How A Pharmacist Can Help With Insomnia

    You can buy tablets or liquids from a pharmacy that may help you sleep better.

    Some contain natural ingredients while others, like Nytol, are an antihistamine.

    They cannot cure insomnia but may help you sleep better for 1 to 2 weeks. They should not be taken for any longer.

    Some of these products can have side effects, for instance, they may make you drowsy. This could make it difficult for you to do certain things like drive.

    Check with your doctor before taking anything for your sleep problems.

    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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