Insomnia is simply defined as a sleeping disorder that is characterised by symptoms of unrest and the inability to sleep. Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint that is been experienced by humans. It occurs when you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep even though you had the opportunity to get a full night of sleep. The causes, symptoms and severity of insomnia vary from person to person. Insomnia may include the following:
· Difficulty falling asleep
· Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
· Waking up too early in the morning
· Not feeling refreshed after sleep
Insomnia involves both a sleep disturbance and daytime symptoms. The effects of insomnia can impact nearly every aspect of your life. Studies show that insomnia negatively affects work performance, impairs decision-making and can damage relationships. In most cases, people with insomnia report a worse overall quality of life.
Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by how you feel after sleeping (not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off). Even if you are spending eight hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.
Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock? Insomnia is a common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, health, and ability to function during the day. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems. Simple changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can put a stop to sleepless nights (without relying on medication). Below are some helpful ways/tips you can adopt that checkmate insomnia:
1. Changing habits that disrupts sleep: Often, changing daytime habits and bedtime routines that contribute to sleeplessness is enough to overcome insomnia altogether. Adopting new day time habits are so helpful. So many habits are the possible cause of insomnia but we likely overlook and give them less consideration. Some of the habits include late-night TV watching and internet surfing.
2. Exercise: Nothing aids sleep at night like a good workout during the day. You don’t have to join a gym or spend hours on a treadmill to reap the benefits, though. Try taking a dance or yoga class with a friend, playing activity-based video games with your kids, watching your favourite TV show while on a stationary bike, or enjoying outdoor activities such as golf, playing football, or even yard work. Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity on most days or three 10 minute sessions if that is more convenient, but ensure is not too close to bedtime.
3. Avoid naps: Napping during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you feel like you have to take a nap, limit it to 30 minutes before 3 p.m.
4. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine: Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least eight hours before bed. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it interferes with the quality of your sleep, and nicotine is a stimulant.
5. Avoid late meals: Try to avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods can take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and spicy or acidic foods can cause heartburn
6. 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, even if you are tired.
7. Avoid a long commute that cuts into your sleep time: The more time you spend travelling home in daylight, the more awake you will become and the harder you will find it is to get to sleep.
8. Eliminate noise and light from your bedroom during the day: Use blackout curtains or a sleep mask, turn off the phone, and use ear plugs or a soothing sound machine to block out daytime noise. Developing new bedtime routines to help you sleep It is not just what you do during the day that affects the quality of your sleep, but also those things you do to prepare your mind and body for sleep. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to hide outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light.
9. Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime: This includes vigorous exercise, big discussions or arguments, or catching up on work. Instead, focus on quiet, soothing activities, such as reading, knitting, or listening to soft music, while keeping lights low.
10. Turn off screens one hour before bedtime: The light emitted from TV, tablets, smart phones, and computers suppresses your body’s production of melatonin and can severely disrupt your sleep. Instead of emailing, texting, watching TV, or playing video games, try listening to a book on tape, a podcast, or reading by a soft light. If you want to read an eBook before bed, use an eReader that is not backlit, i.e. one that requires an additional light source.
11. Use your bedroom only for sleeping: Don not work, watch TV, or use your computer or smart phone in bed. The goal is to associate the bedroom with sleep, so that when you get in bed your brain and body get a strong signal that it’s time to nod off.
12. Move bedroom clocks out of view: Anxiously watching the minutes tick by when you cannot sleep is a sure-fire recipe for insomnia. You can use an alarm, but make sure you cannot see the time when you are in bed.
13. Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation not only help quiet your mind and relieve body tension, but also help you fall asleep faster and get back to sleep more quickly if you wake up in the night. And all without the side effects of sleep medication.
14. Overcoming stress: Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it difficult to fall asleep as night. Get out of bed when you cannot fall sleep. Do not try to force yourself to sleep. Tossing and turning only amps up the anxiety. Leave the bedroom and do something relaxing, such as reading, drinking a cup of herbal tea, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music. When you are sleepy, go back to bed. Talk over your worries during the day with a friend or loved one . Talking face to face with someone who cares about you is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety and stop you rehashing worries when it is time to sleep. The person does not need to be able to fix your problems, but just needs to be a good listener, someone who makes you feel heard and will listen without judging, criticizing, or continually being distracted. Get help with stress management . If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake at night, learning how to handle stress in a productive way and to maintain a calm, positive outlook can help you sleep better at night.
15. Overcoming anxiety about your insomnia: The more trouble you have with sleep, the more it starts to invade your thoughts. You may dread going to sleep because you are going to toss and turn for hours or be up at 2 a.m. again. Or maybe you are worried because you have a big day tomorrow, and if you don’t get a solid eight hours, you are sure to blow it. But agonizing about sleep only makes insomnia worse; worrying floods your body with adrenaline, and before you know it, you are wide- awake. Instead, try challenging your negative thoughts about your insomnia and replacing them with more realistic ones.