Have you ever found people cranky and suggested that they need six hours of sleep? Do you know what it feels like to go sleepless for days?
If you do or if you have been facing this problem for some time now, you have insomnia. It is a type of sleeping disorder that messes up your sleeping patterns. This makes it difficult for you to either fall asleep or stay awake.
There can be two forms of insomnia that you can come across – primary and secondary. The primary one is the type where you find it hard to fall asleep but it does not contribute to greater health hazards. The secondary form is the type where you come across sleeping problems associated with some other cause like asthma, arthritis, cancer, heartburn or depression. Other related health conditions can include pain, alcohol or any sort of medication that you might be taking.
Reasons behind insomnia
If you get insufficient sleep, a lot of problems can be caused such as:
- Irritability, fatigue, and extreme sleepiness in the daytime
- You may gain body weight and find it difficult to lose
- Weakens your immune system, thereby making you sensitive to various infections and diseases
- Lead the way to chronic pain
- Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses
- Decreases your motor function, and other cognitive functions
- Reduces your ability to focus or concentrate on things, leading to a declined performance at the workplace
- High blood pressure level due to increased heart rate, paving the way towards hearing diseases and risk of diabetes
There can be some other possible reasons behind the cause of acute and chronic insomnia like:
- Stress in your work sector
- Physical or emotional discomfort
- Interference in your normal sleep timings because of a jet lag or work in the night shifts
- Environmental factors like extremities in the temperature, too much noise or light in the surroundings
- Discomfort or pain at night
- Any medications associated with other illnesses that you have might pose an adverse effect on your sleeping patterns
Ways to ward off insomnia without any medications
Medicines can undoubtedly help you to improve the disturbed sleeping cycles. There are some herbal and natural products that are potent enough to enhance your sleep cycles. Sedatives don’t always help you sleep and usually comes along with adverse health conditions.
Other than the negative impacts, these medicines might not make you sleep deeply or silently. They can also get really addictive and you might get depended on them every night.
Over time you might develop a tolerance to consume medicines, requiring a lot of medication to induce an equivalent result. These medicines may cause a rebound sleep disorder, which means it becomes even tougher to doze off while you are not taking them. Thus, you might consider trying the below-mentioned alternatives:
- Brief Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Intervention for Insomnia (also known as CBT-I)
- Sleep hygiene
What are the dos and don’ts of avoiding insomnia?
- Always try to stick to fixed sleeping time, like the same bedtime and waking time every day.
- Exercise for at least half an hour daily or four times a week. Remember not to undergo any vigorous fitness schedule in the morning or afternoon. It might otherwise aggravate the condition further.
- Prefer taking a warm shower before you hit the bed.
- Do relaxing exercises before going to sleep, like meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindful breathing.
- Turn off your phone or switch off the internet access before you go to bed.
- Listen to some soothing music that might help you fall asleep in a better way.
- Do not consume excess caffeine through beverages like tea or coffee. Caffeine aggravates insomniac tendencies and interferes with your sleeping patterns.
- Do not take any stimulating medication before your bed. For example, nicotine and chocolates.
- Try not to consume too much alcohol or wine at dinner. Alcohol might pace up the onset of sleep, but it will also intervene in your sleep in the middle of the night. You might not be able to wake up on time too.
- Avoid sleeping during the day unless you need a power nap. It can keep you sleepless at night.
- Reduce screen time before going to bed.
- Try not to have any heavy meal close to your bedtime.
Is insomnia more common when you age?
Sleep typically becomes less relaxing as you age. With age, your internal clock typically advances, thus you get weary earlier in the evening and again wake earlier in the morning. However, if you are old, you typically still would like an equal quantity of sleep as younger individuals do.
You will be less physically or socially active. The absence of activity will interfere with your night’s sleep. Thus, the less active you are, the more likely you will be to take a daytime nap. This may, in turn, interfere with your sleep at night.
Changes in health can also contribute to insomnia too. Chronic pain from conditions like inflammatory disease or conditions like depression and anxiety interferes with your sleep. Problems that increase the necessity to urinate throughout the night ― such as prostate or bladder issues ― will also disrupt your sleep. Keep track of the medicines you take daily for other health concerns, which may unknowingly cause insomnia.
It is essential to have a healthy life which typically includes early to bed and early to rise. It is further followed by a good diet, hydration level, and exercise. These four things can bring in a lot of change and you might not need medicines.
Physical activities make our body aggravate the need to sleep. You will eventually find yourself tired and want to hit the bed. If you’re at early levels of sleeping problems you can improve by choosing healthy habits. However, if it is more serious than that, you need to consult a doctor. You must prevent deadly probabilities like sleep apnea that insomnia often triggers.