What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep and or hard to stay asleep despite having the time/opportunity for adequate sleep. Although the amount of sleep required varies from person to person, most adults need 7-8 hours a night. There are two types of insomnia primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is when a person is having sleep problems that are not associated with any other health condition. Secondary insomnia is when a person is experiencing sleep problems as a result of another health condition such as depression, asthma or experiencing chronic pain.
How is insomnia affecting you?
People suffering from insomnia usually wake up tired and struggle to function throughout the day. Insomnia depletes energy levels which as a result can affect mood, work performance, relationships and general quality of life.
- Insomnia symptoms may include:
- difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Feeling unrested and tired after a night’s sleep
- Feeling irritable, depressed or anxious
- Making increased errors and or accidents
- Have difficulty concentrating and remembering tasks
- Ongoing worries about sleep
- Tension headaches
Common Causes of Insomnia
Stress: Constant concerns about work, relationships, health or family can stop the mind from settling down when it is time to go to sleep. Stressful or traumatic life events such as a death, loss of a job or relationship split can also lead to insomnia.
Anxiety and Depression: Anxiety and depression may disrupt your sleep as well as worrying about being able to go to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.
Medical Conditions: If there is chronic pain, breathing difficulties or a need to urinate frequently, insomnia may be developed.
Change of Environment: Travelling or a change of work schedule can disrupt your bodies circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm acts as the bodies internal clock and regulated the metabolism, body temperature and the sleep-wake cycle of the body.
Tips For Insomnia:
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol: Caffeine and nicotine are well known stimulants and consuming any caffeine or smoking any nicotine late in the day can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol, although acts as a sedative prevents deep phases of sleep and often causes people to wake during the night.
- Avoid stimulating activities before going to sleep: It is a good idea to teach the body and mind how to unwind prior going to sleep. Watching television or using any electronic devices before going to bed all stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Try making a rule to have all electronics off an hour before you go to sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is inviting for sleep: Keeping your bedroom clean, tidy and uncluttered make winding down for sleep much easier. Ensuring your bedroom is not too hot or cold, too light or too noisy is also important. It is also important to use your bed for sleeping only and avoid doing any work in bed.
- Avoid eating too late in the evening: Overeating at night can keep you awake as well as making it very uncomfortable to lie down. Try to have dinner earlier so your body has time to digest your food helping you to go to bed earlier.
- Regular exercise: 40 minutes of physical activity each day is extremely beneficial for those suffering insomnia. It is however, best to avoid exercise too late in the evening as it can be too stimulating.
-Develop your own sleep routine: Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Over time, the body will recognise the pattern and adapt to the new routine.