Insomnia, also called sleeplessness, is simply the difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep for the desired amount of time even after falling asleep, waking up too early, and not be able to get back to sleep at night. It is a widespread problem among humans. Insomnia takes a toll on your energy, ability to function during the day, and mood. Therefore, the need to overcome insomnia is very important.
Read also side effects of insomnia
Different people need a different amount of sleep. Therefore, insomnia is not defined by the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off but by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping. While sleep requirements vary from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.
Types of Insomnia
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are 5 types of insomnia. They are:
- Acute insomnia
- Chronic insomnia
- Comorbid insomnia
- Onset insomnia
- Maintenance insomnia
Acute insomnia is short-term insomnia. This type of insomnia is caused by life events such as receiving bad news, stressful change in your job, or a long trip. It can last from a few days to a few weeks.
Chronic insomnia is a long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping. You have chronic insomnia if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights per week for three months or longer.
Comorbid insomnia occurs with other conditions. Anxiety and depression are conditions associated with changes in sleep.
Onset insomnia is the difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night.
Maintenance insomnia is the inability to stay asleep after falling asleep. If you wake up during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep, you have maintenance insomnia.
9 Secrets to Overcome Insomnia
Avoid the Consumption of Caffeine Late in the Day
Humans commonly use caffeine as a stimulant to enhance focus and energy. However, you should consume caffeine very early in the day because the effects last longer than we think. Scientist estimates that about 8 hours is needed for the effects of caffeine to wear off finally. Taking caffeine in the afternoon or evening is not recommended, as it can disrupt your sleep.
Stay Away from Alcohol before Bed
Alcohol may help you relax and bring on sleep, but heavy usage negatively affects your sleep cycle once you are asleep. Taking alcohol before bed increases the symptoms of snoring, sleep apnea, and the number of times you wake up at night.
Alcohol also reduces your body’s nighttime melatonin production. Melatonin helps to reduce your body’s level of alertness and makes sleep more inviting.
It is best to limit alcohol consumption to a maximum of one to two bottles per day. To overcome insomnia, avoid drinking within 3 hours before bedtime.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Humans are creatures of habit, and our brain gets used to repetitions. It is for this reason that experts advise that you try to sleep and wake at consistent times.
In other words, you should go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up each morning at the same time even during weekends to overcome insomnia.
Sticking to a sleep schedule helps, you be in harmony with your body’s circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock that helps in optimizing the quality of your sleep.
Irregular sleep patterns can alter your levels of melatonin, which can significantly affect your sleep.
Exercise regularly – but not too late in the day
Exercise is essential to the human body, but so also is the timing. It is advisable to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes daily and to shun exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime. Safe exercises help to improve your health and have proved more beneficial than sleeping pills to people with insomnia.
Don’t eat Heavy Meals close to bedtime
You should always eat dinner early in the evening. Also, avoid heavy foods within 2-3 hours to bedtime. Eating a heavy meal before bed can lead to indigestion, which will cause poor sleep.
Spicy foods or foods rich in acid content should be avoided because it can cause heartburn and stomach trouble.
Avoid Naps after 3:00 pm
Naps are very good as they can help make up for lost sleep, but late afternoon naps often make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Late afternoon naps can confuse your body’s internal clock, which may make you struggle to sleep at night. Naps should also be limited to about 15 – 20 minutes in the early afternoon. This helps to enhance daytime brain function.
However, if you take regular daytime naps and still sleep well at night, you do not have to worry because the effects of napping still depend on the individual.
Relax before Bed
It is advisable to have a pre-sleep routine that helps you relax before bedtime. Relaxation before bed is a common technique used to treat insomnia as it improves sleep quality.
Meditating, listening to soft music, reading a book, taking a warm bath are some ways to relax before bed.
Make Sure your Bedroom is Quiet, Dark, and Cool
Noise, light, a bedroom that is too hot or cold can interfere with your sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, not too warm, nor too cold. You can use earplugs to block unnecessary noise from interfering with your sleep.
Bedroom temperature affects sleep quality more than external noise. Increased body temperature can decrease sleep quality by increasing wakefulness.
Avoid using your bedroom to perform activities not related to sleep or sex.
Don’t Lie in Bed Awake
If you have been in bed without falling asleep, do not toss and turn, do something calming to relax, you should feel sleepy again. Do not try to force yourself to sleep.
If you wake up at night and cannot seem to fall asleep again, you can try these relaxation techniques that can get you back to sleep:
- Close your eyes and take deep and slow breaths. Breathe in deeply and fully through your nose and out through your mouth, involving your chest, belly, lower back, and ribcage to aid your relaxation.
- Relax the muscles in your body to make yourself comfortable. You can practice progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation exercise in which you slowly tense and relaxes all the muscle groups of your body step by step.
- Meditate. Sit or lie quietly and focus only on your breathing.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)
Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a type of therapy that helps you change actions or thoughts that can encourage insomnia. This therapy can help you overcome insomnia by changing your behaviour before bedtime, as well as changing your old ways of thinking that keep you from falling asleep.
Experts claim that CBT-I is more effective at treating chronic insomnia than sleeping pills.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves two main components:
It teaches you to recognize and change negative beliefs and thoughts that contribute to your sleep problems. Cognitive therapy works by recognizing your negative thinking patterns that contribute to your sleeplessness and replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts. If you can change the way you think, you can change the way you feel, and ultimately change how you sleep.
This involves three steps:
- Identifying your negative thoughts
- Challenging your negative thoughts
- Replacing negative thoughts with realistic thoughts
This teaches how to avoid behaviours that keep you awake at night and replaces them with better sleep habits.
Signs that you are getting a Good Sleep
- In the morning, you wake up feeling refreshed and alert.
- You have an absence of pains and aches in the morning
- After turning in for the night, you fall asleep quickly
- All other factors considered, you can maintain a stable, good mood throughout the day
- You can sleep throughout the night without waking up more than once
If insomnia is taking a toll on your mood and health, and you have tried our secrets to overcome insomnia without success, please see a sleep specialist. Provide the doctor with as much supporting information as possible.
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