Sleep is a way for the body to recuperate itself and revive from the entire day’s tired schedule. Sleeping is one of the most crucial functions of the body. Getting a good night’s sleep and rest is important for one to carry on everyday functions normally. Even one day of disturbed sleep can leave you feeling irritated and tired for the remaining part of the day. And contrary to that, when we do get a night of good sleep, the next day seems brighter leaving us more energetic and fresh in the mind.
Insomnia is a condition that results in the lack of a sound and restful sleep. It is a common condition faced by as many as 30 percent of Americans at some point in their life.
Insomnia refers to an inability to sleep or changes in sleep habits for a long time. Insomnia can be a condition that is a result of various conditions like psychiatric conditions and certain illnesses, unhealthy schedules of sleep, certain substances, or various biological reasons. While some people consider insomnia to be a medical condition, there are some scientists who believe that insomnia is condition associated with the conditioning of the brain. To treat or address the issue of insomnia, the first important step is to identify the factors that could be the reason behind your sleeping difficulties.
What are the reasons behind insomnia?
There are several conditions, both mild and serious, that can be behind your insomnia. In certain cases insomnia is a medical condition itself, while in others it could be a symptom that results out of discomfort of a medical condition making it difficult for one to sleep.
There are certain conditions which could be behind your insomnia. Examples of medical conditions that can cause insomnia are:
- Sinusitis or nasal congestion
- Acid reflux or other problems of the gastrointestinal system
- Problems associated with the endocrine system such as hyperthyroidism
- Neurological diseases like Parkinson's disease
- Severe pain
- Pain in the lower back region
Certain medications like the ones taken to treat conditions like a common cough and cold or allergies related to the nasal passage, hypertension, cardiac diseases, thyroid problems, birth control pills and depression medicines could also cause insomnia as one of their side effects.
Apart from these, insomnia could also be a result of some form of sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, which is a neurological disease wherein a person is constantly feeling a need to keep moving his or her legs which in turn causes insomnia. Patients who suffer from restless legs syndrome primarily undergo worse symptoms in the evening or when they are relaxing or trying to sleep. Apparently, this condition is estimated to affect about 10 percent of the population.
Sleep apnea is also a condition that is associated with insomnia. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder wherein a person’s airways get obstructed partially or fully as they try to sleep. This could cause a sudden drop in their oxygen levels which causes them to wake up from their sleep, maybe for just a short period of time but with increased frequency. People suffering from sleep apnea often complain of issues like insomnia.
Not getting sleep once in a while is different from insomnia, which is a more regular condition and can be extremely disturbing. If you are undergoing symptoms of insomnia for a long time, it is important to look at the possible reasons that could be causing this condition. Timely review of this condition can help diagnose any forms of medical conditions or sleep disorders that could be manifesting into serious health issues. In most cases, simple steps can be extremely helpful to improve sleep, for instance, avoiding bright lights when trying to sleep or playing some relaxing music and avoiding distractions like the TV and computer. In more serious cases of insomnia, it may be important to seek medical attention to figure out the right course of treatment. Insomnia and lack of sleep cannot be a way of life as eventually, it will begin to impact your quality of life in one way or another.
Lifestyle habits can help you get better sleep
Apart from various medications, there are a number of natural remedies that can aid your sleep. Foods, herbs, and certain supplements can be taken for bettering your sleep. Sleeping should be a schedule that one should follow religiously. Just as we eat and drink when our body requires, we should also retire to bed when our body sends us the signals. However, due to work stresses a number of us tend to ignore these signs, eventually leading the body to have disturbed sleep patterns leading to insomnia. Here are some simple ways to treat insomnia.
Just like eating all your meals at a specific time of the day, it similarly becomes important to maintain a regular schedule for sleep as well. No matter what time you sleep the previous day, set an alarm and wake up each morning at a fixed time to set your body in a sleep rhythm. For a complete and deep sleep at night, it is crucial to get only the amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed rather than extending it only out of sheer laziness.
People who stay active and exercise regularly rarely find it difficult to sleep. This is because the body is so tired that as soon as you drop to bed you are likely to go to sleep. However, it is important to avoid strenuous exercises just prior to going to bed as an excessive activity just before sleep can wake you up and hamper your sleep.
Set the right environment
You are likely to feel disturbed in a bedroom that is disorganized or cluttered. For a sound sleep, it is important to organize your bedroom into a comfortable set up. Using eye masks or ear plugs to stay clear of any form of disturbance may also help in getting good sleep.
Regulate the temperature
For a sound sleep, it is important to keep the room at the right temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. Keeping the room at the right temperature helps greatly in getting sound sleep.
Avoid liquids just before sleep
Avoid liquids right before going to bed, as it is likely to wake you up for frequent bathroom trips at night. If you want to drink liquids before bed, stick to some hot or warm beverages like milk or soy milk. You can also sip some chamomile tea for a peaceful and undisturbed sleep.
While stress is a major part of our lives and can rarely be kept aside, try leaving your worries outside your bedroom. Consumption of products like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can also cause sleep disturbances and hence must be avoided. As much as you can, try not to sleep with a head full of worries and problems, and if possible, sort out your problems before retiring to bed.
Certain techniques such as yoga and meditation just before sleeping are known to help induce peaceful sleep. Avoid undertaking any activity that causes too much exertion or strain and tries to completely relax your mind and body before retiring to sleep. Engaging in light activities like reading, stretching and listening to music are also known to calm the mind and help in getting a good night’s sleep.
- Insomnia could result from various reasons including medical conditions and psychiatric conditions.
- Simple lifestyle habits can go a long way in dealing with insomnia and help in getting a good night sleep.
- Insomnia that persists for a long time should be treated seriously and must be discussed with a health care practitioner.