Insomnia, a common sleep disorder, is a tough problem to have. You want to sleep and you know you need it, but no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to drift off.
You might be surprised to know though that insomnia can take many forms. So the question of what is sleep insomnia is more complex than you might have imagined. You might be suffering from it and not even know.
Knowing what are insomnia symptoms can help you determine if you might have it. Daytime sleepiness, not feeling rested upon waking, feeling irritable or depressed, and having trouble paying attention can all be signs of insomnia.
But even if it feels impossible now, you can get a good night’s rest. You just need to come up with some sound sleep strategies. Once you have tips for insomnia at your disposal, you’ll be sleeping like a baby before you know it.
How a Modern Lifestyle Influences Sleep
When you have insomnia, it’s easy to feel like you’re a failure -- that there’s something wrong with you. After all, how can you fail at getting sleep when it’s a basic human need? But the first thing you need to realize is that it isn’t entirely your fault.
People have had difficulty sleeping for hundreds of years, so it isn’t just you. Modern lifestyles can make it even more difficult to drift off to sleep. If you’re looking at what causes insomnia, part of the problem is our way of living.
We live in a world that never fully shuts down. We can turn on the news at any time of day or night and hear horrific headlines from all around the world.
While our ancestors had their traditional work day, it seems like our work never ends. Even when we’re away from the office, we get constant emails and text messages about immediate concerns we are expected to clean up. If you get those texts late in the evening, it can be hard to wind down enough to fall asleep.
With the disappearance of the middle class, many adults worry about money. When you’ve stayed busy all day with work, keeping up the house, making dinner, and spending time with your family, those worries might not be front and center. But once you turn out the lights at night and you have some quiet time, money concerns can hit you hard.
We have constant pressure and stress to deal with. Even our ways of communicating can take its toll. We check our phones frequently, getting worked up over personal texts we receive. Or we stimulate our minds by playing games on our phone close to bedtime when we should be winding down.
All that can add up to poor sleep. But you don’t have to take that lying down. While you can’t change how society works, you can implement changes that will make a good night’s sleep much easier for you to obtain.
Sleep Better With a Lifestyle Correction
No, I’m not going to ask you to plunge back into the Dark Ages and give up all your modern-day devices and appliances. But with a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you can get rid of your sleep problem. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be dramatic changes.
Here are some lifestyle changes you can incorporate to kick your insomnia to the curb.
- Don’t sleep in on the weekends: It can be tempting to sleep as late as you want when your alarm clock isn’t demanding you get up -- after all, you’re getting the extra hours of sleep that you so desperately need. But sleeping in can severely mess with your sleep schedule. Try to get up at the same time every day.
- Skip the sleep medications: Taking sleep medications can seem like a good solution to help you get some shuteye. But there are several drawbacks to relying on pills. All medications have side effects, and sleep medications can be habit-forming too. Plus, you have the added expense when you can find free ways to improve your sleep.
- Don’t share your bed: This one might seem hard to pull off if you’re married. But sleeping in your spare bedroom once in a while might give you a good night’s sleep, especially if your partner is a snorer or wakes you up by tossing and turning. If your young children are in the habit of crawling into bed with you, try to break them of the habit.
- Put the phone away: Checking your phone every few minutes for messages is a bad habit you should break. Every time we respond to messages at bedtime it creates cognitive stimulation and possibly stress, making it harder to sleep. The glow from your phone also messes with your melatonin levels, which is the hormone which signals it is time to sleep. Put your phone away an hour before bedtime and consider that your sacred, wind-down time.
- Get more exercise: Exercise tires you out, increasing your sleepiness. Plus, it will be good for your heart health, blood glucose levels, and cholesterol. It’s a win-win situation any way you look at it. So go for a bike ride, a walk, or a run, but try to make it hours before bedtime so you aren’t too energized to sleep.
Insomnia Treatments and Home Remedies
If you’re wondering what to do for insomnia, you aren’t alone.
There are insomnia treatments and home remedies, but before you consider taking action for your sleep insomnia, let’s look at the different types.
- Acute insomnia: This is short-term insomnia that might strike for one night or even several weeks. Don’t panic if you struggle for a few nights to sleep -- it may go as suddenly as it came on.
- Chronic insomnia: This is the name given to insomnia if you suffer from it for at least three nights a week for a minimum of three months. You may want to consult a doctor if your insomnia persists.
- Onset insomnia: This is when you can’t go to sleep at the beginning of the night. It may take you quite a while before you finally are able to rest.
- Maintenance insomnia: With this type, you don’t have any trouble falling asleep, but you can’t seem to go back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.
- Comorbid insomnia: This kind of insomnia can be blamed upon psychiatric or medical conditions or medication. If there’s an underlying issue, you should figure out what it is.
Here are some ways to help insomnia that you can try at home.
- Weighted blankets: Using a gravity blanket is becoming increasingly popular for battling insomnia and other sleep-related problems. By using a weighted blanket insomnia can be improved -- heavy blankets can help you cut down on stress and anxiety, leading to better sleep. To choose the best weighted blanket for insomnia, buy one that is 10 percent of your body weight. To make them easier to clean, use a duvet cover.
- Massage: This can help improve insomnia because it can cut down on stress, pain, and anxiety, which are all common reasons for insomnia. You can opt for a self-massage or get your partner to give you one before bedtime.
- Epsom salts: For generations, people have sworn by the relaxing benefits of adding Epsom salts to their baths. It contains magnesium, which allegedly enters your body through your skin, helping with pain, stiffness, and relaxation. Whether there is a true benefit to this therapy remains to be seen, but it can be worth a try.
Seeking Better Sleep? Try These Tips
If you’re looking for more tips to going to sleep, we’ve got you covered.
- Modify your sleep environment: Your sleep environment could be influencing how quickly you nod off. You should ensure your room is a comfortable temperature for sleep, ideally in the 60-degree or low 70-degree range. Make sure you don’t have street lights filtering through your windows -- a good blackout curtain or blinds can take care of that.
- Use the power of white noise: Have you ever been partially asleep when a noise in your house snaps you out of it? That’s where white noise comes in handy. You can buy a noise machine, use an app, or just turn on a fan.
- Keep a sleep diary: This will help you spot patterns that may be keeping you awake. Write about your feelings as you crawled into bed, what you thought about, and how quickly you fell asleep. The more information you piece together, the easier it might be for you to find a link about what’s keeping you up.
- Meditate: This relaxation technique may quiet your mind in just a few minutes. Find a quiet place and try to clear your head of any worrisome thoughts. Over time, you’ll get better at this.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed: Heavy meals within an hour or two of bed can cause acid reflux or just make you too miserable to sleep. A light bedtime snack is okay, but a full meal isn’t.
- Cut back on naps: Napping, especially long naps, can trick your body into insomnia by messing with your sleep/wake pattern. If you feel you need a nap, keep it to 20 minutes. That will refresh you, but won’t be long enough to enter REM sleep, which will make you feel groggy.
Insomnia can be a life-changing condition, but luckily, there are avenues you can take to bring things back on track with your sleep pattern. By trying some of these tips, you’ll quickly learn which ones work for you.
Just hang in there, and keep doing your best to find a solution!