Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock? Insomnia is a very common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems. But you don’t have to resign yourself to sleepless nights. By addressing the underlying causes and making simple changes to your daily habits and sleep environment—you can put a stop to the frustration of insomnia and finally get a good night’s sleep.
There are five common disorders why people can’t sleep according to Dr. Michael Alexus Sarte, head of the Snoring and Sleep Center at the Medical City.
You have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You wake up feeling tired.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Your air passages have become narrowed or blocked, disturbing your breathing. Soon after you fall asleep, you start snoring progressively louder.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Once you lie down, you feel an urge to move your legs to stop unpleasant sensations.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Rhythmic movement of the limbs while you sleep. It can last from a few minutes to several hours.
Its symptoms include sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and loss of muscle tone while awake making you unable to move. It causes excessive sleepiness the rest of the day.
Causes of Insomnia
In order to properly treat and cure your insomnia, you need to become a sleep detective. Emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression cause half of all insomnia cases. But your daytime habits, sleep routine, and physical health may also play a role. Try to identify all possible causes of your insomnia. Once you figure out the root cause, you can tailor treatment accordingly.
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed? Do you feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your sleep environment quiet and comfortable?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
While treating underlying physical and mental issues is a good first step, it may not be enough to cure your insomnia. You also need to look at your daily habits. Some of the things you’re doing to cope with insomnia may actually be making the problem worse.
For example, maybe you’re using sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep, which disrupts sleep even more over the long-term. Or maybe you drink excessive amounts of coffee during the day, making it harder to fall asleep later. Other daytime habits that can negatively impact your ability to sleep at night include having an irregular sleep schedule, napping, eating sugary foods or heavy meals too close to bedtime, and not getting enough exercise or exercising too late in the day.
Not only can poor daytime habits contribute to insomnia, but a poor night’s sleep can make these habits harder to correct, creating a vicious cycle of unrefreshing sleep.
Here a few tips to assure you of a good night’s sleep:
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, and a bedroom that’s too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable mattress or pillow can all interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to mask outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide the support you need to sleep comfortably.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning even if you’re tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. Electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts your body’s production of melatonin and combats sleepiness. So instead of watching TV or spending time on your phone, tablet, or computer, choose another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime. This includes checking messages on social media, big discussions or arguments with your spouse or family, or catching up on work. Postpone these things until the morning.
Avoid naps. Napping during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you feel like you have to take a nap, limit it to 30 minutes before 3 p.m.