Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is manifested by trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and difficulty returning to sleep. Th ere are many factors that can cause this sleep deprivation. Physical pain, a snoring partner, an uncomfortable bed, unfinished work, an upcoming test, and emotional distress to name a few. In most cases, insomnia is short-term. It can be resolved when the temporary stress that causes it has been sorted out. Or when the body is caught up with exhaustion.
However, there are conditions that can cause long-term or chronic insomnia. Too much stress from work, family, and finances can keep your mind active at night and unable to fall asleep. Health issues such as gastrointestinal problems, overactive thyroid, and depression can mess up with your metabolism and hormones which can affect your ability to sleep.
When restless nights occur frequently it causes more stress in the body. Releasing cortisol which is the body’s main stress hormone and activating the fight-or-flight response system. This increases heart rate and blood pressure pushing the body into hyperarousal state. When this happens, it can be impossible to ignore any slight discomfort or noise. Making it harder to doze off and easily disrupted during sleep.
Insomnia can affect your energy level during the day. Aside from exhaustion because of not getting enough sleep, the disorder negatively influences your metabolism. In healthy sleep, metabolism slows down to conserve energy for waking hours. But to a person with insomnia, metabolism speeds up even when sleeping. This means that the body continues to burn glucose and discharge energy even when the body should be resting. The condition then leads to waking in a state of tiredness, confusion, and stress. Then it becomes a cycle which happens over and over again when not managed immediately.
There are different options for treating insomnia. This includes: therapy, medication, and natural remedies.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as the first-line treatment for insomnia. This therapy teaches methods to improve sleep by changing bedtime habits and improving relaxation skills.
Some techniques you can learn from CBT are: (1) Stimulus control which is getting out of bed and doing a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. This limit the time spends lying awake in bed and worrying about lack of sleep which increases stress. (2) Sleep restriction. This involves limiting the amount of time spend in the bed then gradually increase it to improve sleep quality. And (3) Light therapy. This helps reset your biological clock by exposing to bright light areas during day time and in a dark or dimly lit room at night to promote sleeping.
CBT therapist may recommend avoiding: caffeinated beverages, eating heavy meals, and doing intense exercise before bedtime. Because these activities make the body more active instead of drifting off. CBT is also helpful in identify mental health symptoms contributing to insomnia such as: depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Medications like triazolam, eszopiclone, and zolpidem are often prescribed by doctors in relieving insomnia. Some take melatonin supplements before bedtime to improve their sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is release by the brain at night to make the body feel calm, relaxed, and fall sleep. It is crucial to consult a doctor before taking any medicine or supplement for sleeping to avoid over dosage and other health-threatening complications it might cause.
Insomnia can be managed by natural remedies. Sleep in a dark, quite, and comfortably cool room to calm your body and minimize stimuli that can cause sleep disturbances. Drink warm milk, herbal tea, or chamomile tea before bed to help you slumber fast.
Yoga and other meditation techniques are efficient in making the mind and body relaxed. This is helpful to sleep easier and longer. Incorporating aromatherapy in your bedtime routines also offer great advantages in improving sleep. Lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, and chamomile are some of the most popular essential oils that are helpful in having a restful night. You can use essential oils through a massage, diffuser, or inhaling a few drops in a cotton ball.
Having quality sleep plays an important role in your overall well-being. Lack of sleep, especially long-term, can have a big impact in your mental and physical health. Not to mention quality of life. Manage your insomnia by practicing good sleeping habits, avoiding stress, and learning relaxation techniques to help you sleep better.