Trouble Sleeping? Here’s what you need to know about insomnia and how to beat it naturally
Insomnia is the term used to describe the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Some people who suffer from insomnia may be able to fall asleep but they are not able to sleep for a long time before waking up again. Other people may have trouble falling asleep initially paired with the inability to stay asleep through the night.
Many of us struggle to sleep; in fact, insomnia affects 1 in 3 people. This blog will explore the causes for insomnia and how to help you get more sleep.
What is insomnia?
Various factors play a role in why some people can have a good night’s rest and why others can’t.
Simple things such as food, daily activities, and being overtired can all have an effect. There are also health conditions as well as certain medication side effects that can lead to a lack or inability to get a good night’s sleep.
Signs of insomnia
- Feeling of exhaustion the next day (after waking up from a night’s sleep)
- Feeling tired or sleepy during the day
- Waking up too early
- Waking up during the night
- Difficulty being able to focus or pay attention
What causes insomnia?
Depending on which insomnia, you’re suffering from (which we will discuss a bit later in this post), it may result in different effects and may not be the same for one person as it is for the next.
Aspects such as illness, medication, stress, and, age are just some of the things that can cause insomnia.
People with psychiatric disorders such as ADHD or depression can also develop problems sleeping. Factors like jet lag and time changes whilst travelling can also contribute to a lack of sleep.
1. Lifestyle influences
You may be someone who leads a stressful lifestyle, possibly work demands your time and focus and is constantly driven by deadlines for example. Or you may be dealing with financial stress and not sure how you’ll cope. These can all lead to sleepless nights.
2. Medical complications
People dealing with health conditions can develop insomnia as a direct result. For example, suffering from pain, even arthritic pain, for instance, can keep people out of sleep. Medicines can also have side effects that cause difficulty in falling asleep.
3. Physiological effects
Studies have shown that women are more prone to suffer from insomnia than men. This is also genetics and hormone related, as is the fact that with age people tend to find it harder to get a good night’s rest.
What is the difference between acute and chronic insomnia?
Acute insomnia is only a short-term problem and it may be because of medication for example. Acute insomnia can also be suffered for one night and not necessarily every night.
Chronic insomnia is a severe form of being unable to sleep and can usually be a long-term sleep disorder. In other words, the patient would be suffering from deprived sleep for a long time.
Sufferers of chronic insomnia may not be able to get a good night’s rest over a span of days and even months. Many patients with chronic insomnia will feel tired during the day because of not getting a good night’s rest.
Chronic insomnia also results in feelings of anxiety, irritability, lethargy, and a lack of focus to name a few.
What is “sleep hygiene”?
Sleep hygiene is the sleeping habits people practice, which can be either good or bad.
Bad sleep hygiene can be anything from watching TV until just before sleeping, or eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime and not sleeping at the same time each night.
To maintain good sleep hygiene it may require making lifestyle changes, which is for the most, needed for any positive health change.
Having your sleep pattern in order also depends on your age, thus children, teens, and adults will have different sleep requirements.
10 Tips to break free from insomnia
1. Use natural remedies
Sure popping a sleeping pill will help you get the good night’s sleep you need, or taking some organic pills would do the trick too. However, there are many natural ways to promote relaxation.
Epsom salts contains magnesium, and magnesium helps to reduce and manage stress levels. When dissolved in bath water it is absorbed through the skin and helps you to relax, and this is good for promoting sleep. Magnesium also helps to detoxify which is beneficial for the body.
Lavender essential oil is wonderful to help promote sleep. A few drops on the wrists or on your pillow at night can help you to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep. You could also choose to diffuse oils such as Ylang Ylang, Roman Chamomile, Neroli, Cedarwood, or Lavender EO, as it draws closer to bedtime.
2. Put down the screen
Watching TV or using your mobile device has an effect on stimulating your brain and thus over stimulating it just before sleep time will leave you “wide-eyed”. The blue light of a screen such as that of a smart device has effects on the brain and the body resulting in alertness.
The light sends messages that it is daytime and thus the body produces less melatonin or “feel-tired hormone”.
Monitoring screen time especially important when it comes to children, but you can adapt it into your own life, whereby it’s important to put down the screen at a certain time before bed.
3. Say no to the sugary foods and meals close to bedtime
It’s tempting to snuggle up with a slab of chocolate and or crisps while you binge-watch your favourite show. However, the sugar content is a bad idea before bedtime. It stimulates higher energy levels and can result in feeling restless and alert.
It’s also wise to avoid eating heavy meals right before bed. Even just an hour before bed is still not enough time to let the food settle and digest. This will not only result in discomfort but can lead to indigestion and even nausea.
4. Put a pause on the liquids after 6pm
One of the worse things to do just a few hours before bed is to down too many liquids. That cup of chamomile tea will help you sleep, but keep your drinks limited after 6pm and at a complete pause by 7:30-8pm. A full bladder means you’re going to need the toilet literally every 5 minutes. This is a major way to lose sleep.
5. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Just like sugary foods, caffeine will keep you awake instead of helping you to wind down and get the rest you need.
Many smokers may fall into this category as the last smoke before bed, or even that cigarette if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Just like caffeine, nicotine has the side effect of causing sleeplessness or insomnia as one of its withdrawal symptoms. According to research, smokers are also prone to be lighter sleepers than non-smokers are.
6. A nightcap? Not always a good idea
Drinking alcohol before bedtime can disturb the ability for the body to be able to sink into a deep sleep, despite it being able to help you fall asleep. It’s best to stop drinking a minimum of 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed.
7. Get exposed to light and darkness
It may seem strange but natural light of daytime and darkness of nighttime encourages “day and night” cycle in people. Getting 10 minutes of sunshine first thing in the morning helps “reset” your body’s circadian rhythm.
8. Winding down
Your bedroom should be a “sleep-friendly” zone. Many people opt to have a television in their bedrooms and that means dealing with the “screen factor” we spoke about earlier.
Other elements include colour, some colours are too stimulating such as yellow for example being very energizing and vibrant.
You should also ensure that you’re light is switched off to stimulate darkness as it should be for the nighttime cycle. Also, consider investing in a good mattress and pillow to help you be comfortable and sleep easy.
9. Try yoga
According to an article by Psychology Today, a new study shows that yoga can improve sleep by reducing insomnia suffered in patients. This is thanks to its many health benefits that include promoting relaxation, better breathing, and overall health and wellness.
10. Meditation for sleep
During meditation, the body relaxes, creating a relaxed state of mind and body. Not only will this help to unwind, de-stress, but also improve the way you sleep. For starters, you can find a comfortable position to sit or lay in. After that, focus on your breathing as you inhale deeply (hold a bit), then exhale.
Some people do a breathing technique such as “7-11” where you breathe in and count to 7 and then exhale and count as you do to 11. This can be shortened to a “3-5” breathing method.
There are many ways to breathe for meditation and mindfulness that will help your mind and body to relax, you’ll not only sleep better but also feel better as a whole.
Losing sleep happens too many of us, but when we change our lifestyle where possible and incorporate better sleep hygiene practices, it’s possible to get a good night’s sleep.
By eliminating bad influences and focusing on things that will help promote relaxation and a sense of winding down is essential for a good night’s sleep.
Some people find that exercise and eating healthy improve their ability to get a good night’s sleep. Not only do swopping bad health habits for good ones increase wellness, but it also promotes overall vitality.
Pairing sleep techniques like deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and other sleep hygiene practices can all work toward feeling revitalized and well rested.