This page contains affiliate links
Sometimes, you wake up early or are already an early riser, not because you need to get up or because you have to go somewhere but just because you wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes it’s the call of the bladder that wakes you but you may find it hard to get back over to sleep. For others, getting to sleep once you go to bed is the problem, so you may spend 7 hours in bed but sleep for only 5 hours or even fewer. Difficulty getting to sleep, or waking while you are still tired and not being able to get back over is called insomnia. Some people joke about it and tell you to “count sheep” but insomnia is a very real problem for some people and can lead to fatigue, mental fuzziness, accidents and even ill health.
If you have insomnia, the first thing you need to do is to change your thinking about sleep. While this may seem easy to say, the reality is that it takes time to develop the habit of not worrying when you’re in bed. Instead, try to identify the negative thoughts you have about sleep, and then write them down. For some people, going to bed worries them. It may be trauma associated with childhood or not being able to face going to sleep. If you think you have problems like this, you could try consulting a sleep therapist. On the other hand, if you find that you are constantly thinking about problems that you could solve the next day, you could either work with a sleep psychologist to help you find a solution or you could try writing a “To Do” list before you go to bed. Writing down all the things you need to get done the next day can be very calming. It means you won’t forget what needs to be done and you have the comfort of a physical list that you will be able to consult the next day and you can tell yourself “that will wait until tomorrow”.
The most common sleep problems with insomnia include lack of energy, and moodiness. In order to combat these problems, you should allow yourself seven hours of sleep per night and sleep in a dark, quiet room. Try not to have even an LED in the room: definitely not a TV or a DVD player. Any kind of light can disrupt sleep, so you may wish to try using heavy blackout curtains or a sleep mask to ensure that sunrise does not wake you earlier than necessary. Also, it’s important to avoid screens before bed. The blue light associated with electronic devices can be very disruptive to getting to sleep. You can find ways to help train your sleeping habits.
To improve your chances of getting to sleep, try putting some relaxing music on or reading a good book. If all else fails, consult a doctor or therapist to find out what the cause is. Insomnia affects more women than men and can be caused by hormonal changes in the body. Night sweats and hot flashes can disrupt sleep during menopause, and pregnancy is another common cause of insomnia. Insomnia often increases with age. Similarly, chronic pain and mental health conditions can also affect your sleep. Additionally, changing schedules can also cause insomnia. So, it’s important to make sure your habits during the day will help you to get a good night’s sleep each and every night. You can find more help on insomnia here.
While over-the-counter sleeping tablets can help some people sleep, they rarely address the underlying problem. Additionally, these drugs can have unpleasant side effects. If you suffer from insomnia, it’s best to visit your GP first. Your GP may prescribe you medications to help you sleep, but these are usually only temporary solutions to the problem. Your GP can also help you learn how to change your thinking and reduce the stress that may be causing your insomnia.
Insomnia can cause long term, chronic sleep deprivation and this can affect your physical and mental health, so it’s important to learn how to improve your sleep. Taking regular exercise and a healthy diet are key factors in ensuring a good night’s sleep. Taking medication is another common source of insomnia, and some medications can cause a sleep disorder. To improve your sleep quality, it’s important to get more exercise daily. Also, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, which can all affect sleep. As the most common sleep complaint, insomnia is not one single sleep disorder. Rather, it can be the result of a combination of factors ranging from caffeine consumption to stress.
Fortunately, the majority of cases can be easily cured without the help of sleep specialists, sleeping pills, or other drugs. By addressing the causes, you can make sure you get enough sleep and won’t be bothered by insomnia. It may also be as simple as making some simple adjustments to your sleeping environment. A healthy diet has many benefits, so it’s important to stick to it. Avoid eating large meals before bedtime, in fact try not to eat anything within 3 hours of bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol also affect sleep, so it’s best to avoid these products after dinnertime. Caffeine, especially, may mean you need to visit the bathroom more during the night. Some people cut out caffeine entirely after about 4pm and find this reduces the need to wake. These items can also prevent the onset of sleep and prevent deep sleep during the night. Additionally, stay away from stimulants like nicotine and chocolate, as they can disrupt your sleep.
Some people may have no difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep but nevertheless, they do not get a good night’s rest. This can be due to sleep apnea. It is related to snoring but it is where the person keeps waking from sleep momentarily, so they never experience deep, restful sleep. They very often do not realize that they are waking, as they go back to sleep again very quickly. For those who snore, their sleep partner may be very aware of the snoring but may not realize that the person is also losing sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea often find the muscles in the throat relax too much during sleep, which interrupts their breathing. They wake for a short while, stop snoring or their throat muscles tighten again and they go back to sleep. Only for the whole cycle to repeat. Sleep apnea, like insomnia, can lead to constant tiredness, fatigue and ill health. There are exercises that can help improve the muscle tone in your throat and different treatments for sleep apnea available.