You don’t know what you have until you lose it – like quality sleep. When you have insomnia, a deep, comfortable, refreshing sleep sounds like the Holy Grail. The very thought of it is seductive.
Achieving sleep is, sometimes, simply a matter of organizing your life and environment accordingly. In this article, we teach you how to create an environment and routine that makes sleep come to you willingly.
Insomnia: The Basics
Insomnia is a sleep disorder. When you have it, you have a difficult time falling or staying asleep. You also wake up too often in the night, and you have trouble falling back to sleep. Another symptom of insomnia is waking up too early in the morning, and feeling exhausted when you wake up.
Additional symptoms of insomnia are irritability, general tiredness, difficulty in concentration, and poor memory.
Insomnia has two variations: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
Primary insomnia is when you have sleep problems that do not have any direct link with any other health condition.
Secondary insomnia is when your sleep problems are a result of health conditions like asthma, depression, heartburn, cancer, and so forth. It can also be caused by pain, medication, or stimulants like caffeine and nicotine. Sometimes insomnia is a withdrawal symptom of quitting use of a certain drug – for instance, during crystal meth detox.
It may be acute insomnia (short-term) or chronic insomnia (long-term). It may occur sporadically, where you go for extended periods without any sleep problems.
Acute insomnia lasts anywhere from one night to a few weeks. Chronic insomnia afflicts you for a minimum of three nights a week for a month or longer.
What Causes Acute Insomnia?
-Emotional or physical pain.
-Stress due to things happening in your life: losing a job, someone you love dies, moving to a new place.
-Medication – for instance, those which treat depression, allergies, colds, asthma, and high blood pressure.
-Factors in your environment like light, noise, or when it’s too hot or too cold.
-When there is interference in your normal sleep schedule – for instance, when you start working the night shift.
What Causes Chronic Insomnia?
-Pain or discomfort during the night.
-Depression and anxiety.
How to Cope with Insomnia and Reclaim Your Beauty Sleep
Identify the Habits in Your Life that Cause Insomnia
Treating the physical and mental issues that cause insomnia may not be enough to beat insomnia. Sometimes it’s your daily habits that ruin your sleep.
In fact, some of your remedies for curing insomnia may be exacerbating the problem. For instance, using sleeping pills or alcohol to induce sleep will solve your problem for the night but this habit will lead to greater sleep disruption in the long run.
Another bad habit is staying up late into the night to binge on TV, browse on your computer, play videogames, or chat on your smartphone.
Other habits that might be hindering your ability to get quality sleep include naps, too little exercise, exercising too late in the day, and consuming sugary foods or heavy meals when it’s near bedtime.
The trouble with some of these habits is that the less sleep you get, the more you indulge them: creating a vicious cycle. After sleeping badly in the night, you feel stressed and fatigued during the day, and so you compensate with unhealthy habits, but the habits make falling asleep harder. The next day the cycle repeats itself until you are a wreck.
Before you do anything else, ask yourself if there is something you are doing which is causing the insomnia. Are you overdoing the nighttime study-time coffees? It will be difficult to correct some of these habits as they are ingrained in your routine, but make the effort and within a few days your body will acclimatize to the change, enabling you to find sleep more easily.
Create a Better Sleep Environment for Yourself
The operating principle is that a quiet, comfortable sleep environment will make you feel relaxed and drowsy, eager to curl up and sleep like a log.
When your bedroom is noisy, has a bright light, or your mattress is hard, falling asleep becomes a chore. With sound machines or earplugs, you can block outside noise. Opening the window or installing a fan can ensure the room stays cool.
If there’s bright light coming in from outside, use blackout curtains or an eye mask to achieve the optimal darkness you need for beauty sleep. Try out different mattresses to find one that is optimally comfortable for you.
Adopt a Bedtime Routine that Helps You Fall Asleep
A soothing bedtime routine will lull you into a state of relaxation, a seductive drowsiness that you cannot fight.
The first thing is to keep your sleep schedule regular. When you retire to bed at the same time every night, your body’s internal clock gets acclimatized to this reality. Whenever that hour arrives, you will begin to feel sleepy. Do this even during weekends.
Not just sleeping time, but waking up time should also be regular, even when you are tired. This attitude and dedication will help you develop a regular sleep rhythm, and sleep will happen without any effort or inducement from you.
As noted earlier, when we spoke about bad habits, it’s not wise to watch TV or use a smartphone before bedtime. In fact, avoid electronic screens altogether as the blue light they emit affects your ability to fall asleep.
On the same note, do not engage in stimulating or stressful activities like social media, arguments, or heavy work before bedtime.
You can substitute these habits with relaxing ones like reading a book or listening to soothing music.
-Don’t use nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol late in the day.
-Get regular exercise, but do not exercise late in the day.
-Don’t drink too many fluids as they will cause you to wake up in the middle night to go to the bathroom.
-Don’t eat heavily at night, especially food that is spicy or acidic because it will keep you up with heartburn or a stomachache.
-Don’t watch TV, use your computer, or work in bed. The idea is to create the mental association that your bed is a place where sleep happens and nothing else.
-If you can’t fall asleep, don’t try to force it. Get up, find something else to do like reading a book. When you feel sleepy you can go back to bed.
Some people fall asleep so easily. When you have insomnia, you can find yourself envying, even hating, them. As you have seen from this article, falling asleep is a delicate art that requires planning and cultivation. It requires routine. Following the advice given here, you can finally relax and let go of your struggle to fall asleep by force.