According to experts, about 20-40% of adults have insomnia in the course of any year and 1 out of 3 people have insomnia at some point in their lives.
This article will help you identify the symptoms and risk factors of insomnia. You will discover effective night routine habits and healthy lifestyle changes for better sleep quality. Also you will learn how to get rid of insomnia using natural and artificial remedies.
Chapter 1: The Science Behind Insomnia
Have you ever suffered from insomnia? In other words, do you face the difficulty of falling asleep and staying asleep at night? So what causes it?
Often times, insomnia is caused by multiple reasons, such as not getting enough rest, hunger, psychological trauma and so on. No matter what the reason is, millions of human beings suffer from the devil called insomnia. It robs you from getting enough rest, saps your energy and destroys your productivity the next day. Not to mention the detrimental effect towards your own physical and mental health.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia by definition is the difficulty of falling asleep and staying asleep. It refers to the types of restlessness a person suffers at different points of his or her sleep cycle. A simple indication to diagnose insomnia is when a person is not satisfied with the amount of sleep that he or she has been getting.
Those with insomnia will feel the lack of energy, fatigue at different moments of the day, facing difficulty in concentrating on tasks, experiencing terrible mood disturbances, and having a low-performance level in the workplace. It’s possible for insomniacs to have any of these symptoms after staying awake throughout the night.
A human body requires rest to rejuvenate both mind and body. A lack of rest in either one of them will result in fatigue and various mental illnesses. Although they are terribly exhausted to the core, they still fail to fall asleep or stay asleep due to different causes.
The Two Types of Insomnia
1. Acute Insomnia
There are two main types of insomnia. The first type is the kind of insomnia when you only suffer a couple of restless nights. Often times, you’re able to fall asleep and stay asleep easily. For many, insomniacs might not think that they are suffering from it but the fact is, they could be having Acute Insomnia.
So what is Acute Insomnia? This kind of insomnia comes from the core levels of stress that insomniacs are experiencing at that moment. They will face a short period where they are not able to fall asleep because of the life circumstances they’re facing at that moment. This type of insomnia doesn’t last for a prolonged time. Instead, it only happens due to certain factors or events during a specified period of time.
For instance, acute insomnia might occur after insomniacs faced the wrath of their boss, gotten a bad grade on a test, got rejected by their crush, or merely because they’re having a ‘Bad Day’. These situations can cause a person to have a night or two where he or she simply cannot get any sleep. Many people may have experienced this kind of insomnia and it tends to resolve on its own.
2. Chronic Insomnia
The second type of insomnia is known as Chronic Insomnia. It’s a prolonged kind of insomnia which occurs at least three nights per week and lasts for at least three months. Usually, this occurs when you are facing a significant change in your environment, physically or mentally. It could be moving to a new home, losing a loved one, being in a new workplace, facing challenges in school, or having trouble adapting to a harsher weather. Perhaps, the reason why chronic insomniacs are having trouble with sleep is that they have an unhealthy sleep habit without a proper sleep routine.
It’s common in today’s world; modern society has screwed up sleep cycle with short hours of sleep. To make things worse, most of them sleep at odd hours. They don’t practice the habit of going to bed early and rising early the next day.
As a result, the mind doesn’t know when to shut down and would be accustomed to staying up late. That’s the reason why insomnia has become a common problem in today’s society. What people fail to understand is that the body will not be able to function with a small amount of sleep one night and expect to compensate their sleep gap by taking naps later on during the day. While this may seem possible and useful in the beginning, this sleep pattern is not sustainable for the long-term.
Eventually, the mind and body will collapse, and you will experience complete exhaustion until you get enough rest. The best fix is to have a fixed schedule to sleep and practice healthy sleep routine. Otherwise, you need to visit the doctor for medication. Typically it will be linked to another medical or psychiatric issue; meaning that the reason why you might be having chronic insomnia will be due to stress. What seems to be a typical situation will seem stressful if you have chronic insomnia. A restless mind and body will feel annoyed by any stimulus from the immediate environment.
The Causes of Insomnia
Regardless of the types of insomnia, the causes are the same. The difference lies in the intensity of emotions a person experiences for a set amount of time. Besides that, underlying medical conditions can also cause insomnia. Fortunately, insomnia is treatable in most cases.
These medical conditions can be either severe or mild, inducing insomnia to occur at a different point in a person’s life. These symptoms include nasal allergies, sinus allergies, lower back pain, overall chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, asthma, and other neurological problems.
The stress on the patient’s body will cause the mind to stay awake for a longer period of time. For instance, those who catch a cold will realize that they are staying awake for the majority of the night or they might find themselves waking up frequently. Both of these factors can result in a person having a severe lack of sleep and rest. They might try to relax while having a cold, but insomnia will prevail.
Physical pain can also cause insomnia as the body cannot get into a comfortable position to rest. Have you ever experienced sleepless nights because you’re unable to get into a comfortable position? This situation is typical when you experience any pain in your body. The best way to fall asleep and stay asleep fast is to get your body in a comfortable position in bed. It will also aid in healing and ensure a more productive sleep. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a constant battle to fall asleep and even opt for unnecessary medication if you can’t get into your best sleeping posture.
With all of these different causes in mind, we can now move on to the cure. But it’s just as important to study all the factors that cause insomnia. But did you know that there are also risk factors of insomnia? If you find some of these risks apply to you, then you simply have a higher chance of having insomnia at some point in your life. Otherwise, pay attention to your health and sleep habits to make sure that you’re insomnia-free for the rest of your life.
The Risk Factors of Insomnia
The risk factors of insomnia include being a female, being pregnant or in the period of menopause, adults above the age of forty, suffering from more stress, suffering from depression, have a night time job, travel long distances where there is a time change, or have a family history of insomnia. All of these factors lead a person closer to insomnia. But do you realize that most of these risk factors are the results of your choices? In most cases, people think that they have little to no choice in life, which is not true.
They can choose to take a longer vacation when they are moving through different time zones, but they didn’t. They can go for a day job, but they decided to go through the hard times of having a job at night and adapt to an entirely different lifestyle.
It is hard to deal with the risk factors of insomnia, but ultimately, it all depends on your choices. Sometimes, you may go through tough times in life. It can be relationship problems, family problems, or job problems. Not only that, you might be suffering from financial or personal problems where you are having trouble balancing your professional and personal life. All these will beat you up and keep you up at night until most of the stress or depression is gone. In some cases, it might take longer. In other cases, people can find solutions and get through the tough times rather quickly. Either way, having the right mindset is the cure to emotions-induced insomnia.
Since insomnia has many different causes and risk factors, there are many different things that you can do to prevent yourself from having more sleepless and restless nights. Most of the time, it’s easy to find out what the causes are, but the real challenge is how to overcome it and have a good night sleep. Life can be difficult, and sometimes it can beat a person down to the point where he’s not even sure if he can get back up.
The very first step in overcoming insomnia is to be fearless. Do not be scared of any outcomes or results that might or might not happen. Fear brings about more stress in your life that doesn’t serve you. In fact, it can only intensify your insomnia. Prevention is always better than cure. Always remember to stay calm and follow the health tips to prevent yourself from having insomnia.
Chapter 2: The Brain of an Insomniac
Researchers all around the world are putting their minds together to figure out how the brain of an insomniac works. They continue to look towards the features of all the brainwaves and how the thoughts interact during the day and night.
How The Mind Works
During every hour of the day, the mind is able to adapt itself to any new situation. Whether you’re trying to get food, get a drink, get out of the car, walking through a door, or just get some rest, the mind will constantly try to find new ways to survive and flourish. It will continue through the cycle of getting enough resources during the day and have enough energy to heal and rest during the night.
Normally, people with a healthy level of brainwaves with satisfactory cognitive stability during the day are able to shut down parts of the brain’s thought process during the night. As night falls deeper, the brain will begin to slow down and initiate sleep. Your alertness and focus typically decrease when it’s nighttime. This is the reason why a person finds it harder to complete any tasks at night.
Studies show that the process of the mind will naturally change throughout the day, and sometimes it will cause a major form of anxiety. It is when the brainwaves become erratic and refuse to slow down due to an immense amount of stress during the day. Therefore, the mind will not be able to relax completely at night. Instead, it will go through a period where the brainwaves will move unusually fast, causing more thoughts and consuming more energy in the evening. Everything that a person has been through during the day will be recollected at night. The body will then run through twice the amount of energy and resources to process the thoughts, and this causes fatigue and lack of energy the following day.
The Mind And The Brainwaves
As for the mind and how the brainwaves respond to the phases of insomnia, there are three different studies to show how the brain reacts during the night. It has proven that the brain’s learning and memory processing functions affect a person’s sleep. The more you learn during the day, the more thoughts and memories will be processed by the brain during the night.
Dreams come from one’s thoughts and real-life experiences. The more you experience in life, the more you dream at night. The ability to have a larger variety of dreams allows the mind to calm down and form vague images to reinforce your memory. When you fall into deep slumber, you tend to be in the dream state. Sometimes, you might even have nightmares. But it all boils down to your subconscious thoughts and the kind of experience you had.
Day Vs Night
So what’s happening in the brain of insomniacs? Firstly, their brain is more active during the night and has difficulty in getting to the calm and relaxed state. In one of the studies on the brainwaves during insomnia, scientists have proven that the neurons of the insomniacs’ brain are more active at night.
Insomniacs tend to have a lot of thoughts going through their head which results in insomnia. They’re experiencing a constant state of information processing throughout the entire day without the ability to put a stop to it. Ultimately, they’ll have insomnia and face the consequences of not having enough rest.
Experts claim that insomnia should not be seen directly as a nighttime disorder. In fact, it’s more of a 24-hour brain condition that causes the brain to remain active throughout the day.
Sleep plays a major role in processing and storing memories. The lack of sleep will interfere with your memory in the long run. You’ll have trouble concentrating, remembering facts, and even minor details. This theory was tested out with a group of students on a short test. One group had a full night sleep whereas another group didn’t have any sleep the night before. The results? Students who had more sleep were able to focus more, and they were able to recall their answers of the test a few hours later. The group of students who didn’t have enough sleep struggled with the test, scored below average, and hardly recall the answers they wrote an hour after the test!
The goal of this experiment is to prove the importance of rest to a person’s focus and memory. As a matter of fact, insomniacs aren’t able to have the same level of concentration as those who had enough rest. Surprisingly, some people believe that they can have the same attention span during the day. Just because the brain is as active at night as it is during the day, it doesn’t mean that the brain can function at the peak level.
Besides the lack of concentration, research shows that Insomniac has more brain plasticity. However, the research on what plasticity is and how it contributes to the states of insomnia is still unknown. But what they do know is that the plasticity of the brain builds up throughout a person’s life, and contributes to other forms of disease later on. Brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to change structurally and functionally in response to physical or environmental factor.
In most cases, brain plasticity enables us to absorb new information, learn new things, and continue to grow throughout adulthood. But in the event of insomnia, it damages your brain cells and leads to brain plasticity. This leads to poor memory retention and lack of focus. Not only in a short-term basis, but in the long term as well. It is more challenging to hold onto all the levels of concentration and memory when a person grows older.
The Brain of The Restless Mind
Another research was done to find out how stress and anxiety affect sleep. The goal was to determine whether a person with a stressful lifestyle has insomnia, and how the brain responds at night. And here’s the result: The cognitive function of the brain doesn’t change regardless they have insomnia, or not. However, insomniacs find it more challenging to focus and process information throughout the day.
Most research shows that the mind of insomniacs wanders during the night. They will have difficulty concentrating the next day; they’ll face challenges in managing their work, studies and even their personal lives.
In other words, the mind will find it difficult to function optimally the next day and insomniacs are unable to perform at their best. Another part of the research compared the memory function and the efficiency to complete any tasks given to insomniacs and to those who had enough rest.
Studies show that insomniacs are not able to recall most of their memories during the day. As a result, they face difficulty in completing their daily tasks. Their minds would wander even when they’re performing simple tasks. For example, when it comes to preparing breakfast, those with a healthy amount of sleep will go to the kitchen, make quick choices, and start their day. On the other hand, those who’re suffering from insomnia will enter the kitchen, end up opening more cabinets, looking through the same foods, and unable to figure out what they should have for breakfast!
And here’s the explanation: An insomniac’s brainwaves are slower, and this will cause him or her to move at a slower pace and forget simple things quickly. Furthermore, as they go on through the day and as more tasks come their way, the prefrontal cortex will begin to have fewer resources, and the brainwaves will become erratic. The brain will try to stay active, but it won’t have enough energy to process everything. Therefore, the brain will exhaust itself eventually if you’re suffering from insomnia.
The Gray Matter
The third and last scientific study is to determine the role of the brain’s gray matter. The most important thing to know about the gray matter is that it exists in the frontal lobe and controls the processes of memory and executive function. When insomniacs don’t get enough sleep at night, they will have a substantial decrease in gray matter. Whether they are suffering from insomnia or having trouble sleeping overall, they will start to develop symptoms of depression or trauma slowly. Usually, the underlying cause of insomnia is stress. The best way to resolve this issue is to consult a doctor to find out what kind of medicine would be best for you.
In a nutshell, the mind has to gain enough sleep and rest to have an adequate concentration. Insomnia will only put your body into overdrive mode and thus not be getting enough rest. The next important thing to remember is to get enough nutrition and sleep every night. No matter how difficult it is to find a balance, it is important to have a high level of concentration every day to get the most out of your day.
Chapter Three: Sleepstarved – The Devil
In the last chapter, the mind was explored to understand how insomnia directly affects the brain. Having this disorder for any amount of time will cause a massive negative impact on the mind. Besides memory loss, insomnia also results in tiredness, carelessness, and lack of alertness the next day. The mind and body both need rest in order to function well the next day. If there is no rest, then the gray matter, memory, and elaborate duties of the mind will crumble, and insomniacs will have a difficult time getting through the day. Their mind will wander, and they will struggle to stay focused throughout the day.
The 5 Things You Do Every Morning
Here’s a little exercise: Firstly, try to think about all the things you did the moment you wake up today. Reflect on the first five things that you did. You might turn off the alarm clock, check the phone, stand up, switch on the lights, and walk to the bathroom. No matter what your usual routine is, you tend to execute all your regular activities flawlessly. Believe it or not, you subconsciously perform all these activities without giving much thought, only because it became a daily routine.
However, when you have insomnia, you are not nearly as focused as you normally are. The mind will continue to think as quickly as it normally would, but it does not have all the resources and energy to function properly. In order words, you may find it difficult to perform your first five activities in the morning, and struggle to complete each task.
An easy way to know this is when you realize that it took longer than it should when performing these tasks. The five actions that are supposed to take only 2 minutes to complete might end up taking more than 10 minutes when you didn’t have enough rest. You might even forget to do a task or two. You might forget to turn off the alarm, and you might forget to check your phone for any updates. Many different things can happen, but overall this is only the tip of the iceberg when you are struggling with insomnia.
Damaging Your Professional Life
After the first-night facing insomnia, you might notice a significant drop in your energy level. You might notice that it’s difficult to plan the day, or you might find it more challenging to remember all the information during the day.
In most cases, your daily routine may begin with waking up, getting ready for work, or even go shopping afterward. All jobs require 100% focus in order to ensure high performance and efficiency. Otherwise, you may face the music from your boss. No matter how exhausted you might feel, there are only a certain amount of days that you will be given sympathy. There are only so many sick leaves you can take in a year. So don’t let insomnia destroy your personal and professional life. Take charge and get rid of it once and for all.
In your job, you are expected to complete the tasks before a certain deadline. Whether you are in charge of packing boxes, doing research, or writing, you have to be at the top of your game almost every day. You have to perform at your best all the time and earn your well-deserved paycheck at the end of the month. Any rest sacrificed during the night can result in poor performance the next day.
Are You Experiencing Sleepstarved?
Everyone has their unique sleep rhythm, and experts recommend 6-8 hours sleep daily. The exact number depends on the individual. Some of us need more rest, some less. But at the end of the day, losing a couple of hours of sleep is always better than losing a whole night of rest. For instance, instead of getting eight hours of sleep, you only get six hours of sleep. Those two hours of sleep may seem crucial, but they will not do as much damage to your life as insomnia. Losing two hours of sleep may slow you down, but chances are, you will still able to pull it through and get all the tasks done by the end of the day. On the other hand, losing an entire night of sleep can shut your brain down. They will go through the day struggling with simple tasks.
For instance, when your boss puts an agenda on your desk, you can read the content without a problem. But realizing what each item on the list means is the tricky part for those with insomnia. What seems to be a walk in the park may seem like mission impossible for insomniacs.
Often times, you lose focus and purpose for the day if you lack sleep. You’d be constantly looking for the fastest way to get through the day rather than thinking about the best way to get through the day. In the beginning, it might seem manageable because you’re still able to get things done on time once in a while. But the truth is, it’ll hurt your reputation in your workplace in the long run because the poor quality of your work. Also, insomniacs are known to have bad temper and poor working relationship with their colleagues.
People will notice your inefficiency eventually. Your boss will notice that you are working at a slower rate, that you are not focusing as much, and that you do not have the right attitude to complete the job. It can put you in the wrong favor of your boss, and you might also risk being fired. Although this may seem unlikely to you right now, you should keep in mind that the possibility is very high. Insomnia is a distressing factor to life that not only can cause someone trouble in the workplace but also in their personal life.
Damaging Your Personal Life
When you think about your personal life, think about all that are important to you, things that you hold dearly to your heart. You might think about your wife, husband, children, pets, or any other aspects. Some people might even think about their garden or their remodeling project that they have been working on.
There is no right or wrong answer to this. It’s your own life, and the key to success in your personal life is to maintain balance. Most people perform their daily routine without putting much thought into it. Examples are simple tasks such as preparing breakfast for your kids, getting into the car, or going somewhere to eat.
Normally, these aren’t difficult tasks, but insomniacs might feel otherwise. The moment a person’s personal life starts to get off balance, it results in stressful moments, and they begin to question if there is any way to get back to the steady state. It doesn’t matter if the stress is coming from not having the groceries in time or waking up late, a minimal amount of stress can accumulate into something that is out of control. Insomnia causes a significant amount of stress and exhaustion.
There won’t be any specific thoughts in their mind; their mind will only wander with random thoughts without context. The same can also be applied to their work life. If you are suffering from insomnia and you need to prepare your kids for school, you might miss the lunch box, forget to iron their clothes, and the list goes on.
Always remember to put yourself first as “Self-Love is NOT Selfish”. When you constantly put yourself last, you’ll find yourself in a downward spiral of life, unable to fulfill your ultimate purpose in life.
Now is the time to blow the lid off a huge misconception in our society, the perception of putting yourself first as arrogant, evil, and selfish. What they failed to understand is that if you’re busy fulfilling the demands of others while not achieving your life purposes, you’d feel unfulfilled and doomed. You’d lose your drive, motivation, enthusiasm, and productivity if you journey down this path. So stop pleasing others and prioritize yourself first. Only by doing so you’ll have an unstoppable momentum to accomplish more, and have more to offer in return.
At home, you might need to maintain your home by mowing the lawn or walking around the house to check for bugs. No matter what you do, you need to remember the steps to execute each action accurately. The moment you are suffering from insomnia, you will not be able to remember things very well, and you will have a harder time getting it done.
Another vital part of your personal life is your relationship with others. Whether it’s your partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend, being in a relationship is a job on its own. If you fail to pay full attention to your partner because you didn’t have enough rest, then you can expect your relationship to go sour. This situation will lead to arguments, dissatisfaction, frustration, loneliness, and sadness in a relationship. All of these emotions can go so awry to the point where major confrontation might need to take place.
Dealing With Insomnia
It’s hard to deal with insomnia when you have no energy left inside you. You’ll feel tired all the time and care less about things that are happening around you. Your mind will wander, and often times those thoughts don’t make any sense. Life itself is already hard enough. Now, imagine adding in the fact that you are not getting any rest and have to deal with every obstacles life present you. How would you feel? Overwhelmed? Stressed?
You might end up wasting time at your workplace. You might fail to prepare your family meals and upset your children. You might start forgetting about all the little things that you usually do for your romantic relationship. Many areas in your life can go south due to insomnia. With all these in mind, now is the time to protect yourself from losing sleep and get optimal rest every night.
Chapter 4: The Cure: Natural and Artificial Remedy
Sleep is incredibly important for health. We need sleep for our body to heal and rejuvenate from our day’s activities. Unfortunately, many people either have difficulty falling asleep or simply don’t get enough sleep, which is where Insomnia remedies come in.
There are two basic categories when it comes to Insomnia Remedies.
1. Artificial Remedy
The first is the Artificial Remedy. This type of remedy or medicine can be found in the pharmacy and clinic. They are usually prescribed to target the sickness at the source. Artificial remedy usually costs a bomb, but it typically delivers fast results. Most medicine today are toxic, filled with harmful chemicals that are not safe to be consumed for a prolonged period of time.
2. Natural Remedy
The other kind of remedy is called Natural Remedy. People have practiced natural medicine for centuries. This type of remedy utilizes the body’s natural healing process for beating insomnia. It is often less expensive, but what makes them stand out is the fact that they’re not as toxic as Artificial Remedy.
Regardless of which kind of remedy you choose, the goal is to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. These remedies are meant to aid you to get more rest at night. Most of these remedies will cause drowsiness, so it’s best to take them right before bed unless it states otherwise. It is also important to make sure that you talk to a doctor before getting any medication listed below.
1. Eszopiclone: Also known as Lunesta, is a group of drugs capable of putting you to sleep easily and quickly. Statistics show that Lunesta is can put most people to sleep for an average of 7-8 hours. It’s a strong group of drugs, so make sure you stay away from it unless you’re able to have a full night rest to prevent grogginess. FDA limits the drug dosage to be not more than 1mg. Any more than that might bring upon the risk of grogginess the next day.
2. Ramelteon: This group of drugs functions differently, it doesn’t cause adverse effects to the users such as grogginess, drowsiness, and so on. Common drugs used to induce sleep targets the CNS (Central Nervous System), depressing its functions and put the user in a sleepy state. Ramelteon, on the other hand, targets specifically the sleep-wake cycle. This drug is prescribed to those who have difficulties falling asleep. Due to the lack of side effects, Ramelteon can be prescribed for long-term use. The drug has also shown no history of abuse or dependence.
3. Zaleplon: Also known as Sonata. Most drugs have a long activation time in a human body. Sonata isn’t one of them. Among all the latest sleeping pills, Sonata managed to stay active in the system for the shortest amount of time. In other words, this drug leaves little to no side effects the next morning. For instance, if a person has difficulty falling asleep, a pop of Sonata pill will help him fall asleep without feeling off the next day.
4. Doxepin: Also known as Silenor. This group of drugs is prescribed specifically to those who have difficulty staying asleep. You can say that this is an artificial remedy for the “light-sleepers” who easily wake up at night due to a minimal amount of stimuli. It acts by suppressing the histamine receptors, thus aiding your sleep maintenance after you’ve fallen asleep. As this drug requires you to stay asleep for a set amount of time, do not consume Silenor unless you’re able to sleep in for full 7-8 hours at night. The dosage depends on your response to treatment, health, and age.
5. Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are useful for both short-term and long-term insomnia. It has a lasting effect on the body as it stays in the system for a long time. So, for those who’ve had insomnia for a long time, this drug can aid them in their journey to full recovery.
It’s commonly used to treat prolonged nightmares and sleepwalking. As the effect of this drug is unyielding, you might feel tired and drowsy the next day. Another side effect of this medication is that this drug can result in drug dependence, meaning that you might have to rely on this drug to fall asleep and stay asleep in future.
Benzodiazepines can be found in sleeping pills Triazolam (Halcion), Alprazolam (Xanax), Temazepam (Restoril), and others.
It is important to get a medical evaluation before you take any sleeping pills. Visit a doctor for a thorough examination. Always consult your doctor about the adverse effects of any medication before deciding which pills to take. Each drug can cause different side effects. The side effects can be a headache, severe allergic reaction, prolonged drowsiness to just name a few.
On the other hand, some would prefer to go for natural remedies instead. You don’t have to depend on chemicals with harmful adverse effects especially upon waking up. Instead, why not use natural remedies to repair your sleep cycle and put an end to insomnia.
1. Go Camping
When the lure of the TV or fiddling on the phone keep you up late at night, it’s time to grab the tent and go camping. Stay away from electronic devices and enjoy a digital detox once in a while. Put yourself in a distraction-free zone and be mindful of your surroundings and yourself. Utilize this time to meditate, do some yoga, write, recollect your thoughts, or simply breathe.
According to several studies, campers who stay away from gadgets and practice winding down rituals such as meditating or listening to music fell asleep about 2 hours earlier than usual. Another important point to remember is that digital devices contribute to insomnia. It is found that artificial light sources can negatively affect circadian rhythms.
Try sleeping on the ground, not in your car or cabin. That way, you’ll get grounded and be one with nature. Regardless of what you do during camping, the ultimate goal is to relax, remove yourself from distractions and demands from others, to stay away from artificial light, and be one with nature. Bath under the natural sun light and fall asleep when the sun goes down. In no time at all, you’ll reset your sleep rhythms.
2. Music Therapy
Music has been used since ancient times to combat insomnia. It is a healing tool that can help to ease anxiety which can contribute to poor sleep quality. The major advantage of this technique is that it’s easy to use and has no side effect.
There are many different types of music therapies, and they differ in the types of neurological stimulation they evoke. For instance, classical music can be a powerful tool for comfort and relaxation while rock music may cause discomfort. Try to go for soft relaxing music that has sounds of nature like the ocean, birds, waterfall, etc.
Several studies showed that people who listen to calming music before going to bed had improved sleep quality during the night than people who don’t. Hence, if you’re having trouble falling asleep, this could be a solution.
3. Power Down For Better Sleep
Sleep is not an on-and-off switch. Your body needs time to unwind and ready itself for shuteye. Insomniacs often find it difficult to shut off their brain at night. You can try to power down for better sleep. This technique aids in quieting things down so that your body will understand that it’s time to get some rest. To set the stage for sleep, it is significant to unwind and dim our mind.
For instance, if you take a warm before bedtime, it’ll create a drop in body temperature, triggering the body to start prepping for sleep. By taking a warm shower, your body temperature will slow down metabolic functions like breathing, digestion, and heart rate. Your body will understand that it’s time to slow down and relax. If you have the habit of listening to music before heading to bed every night, your body will be conditioned that listening to music at night signals bed time.
It’s all about habits and conditioning. Carve out at least half an hour of wind-down time before bed to do breathing or relaxation exercise to clear your mind. The goal of this power down hour is to signal your brain that it’s time to wind down, relax and sleep.
4. Sleep In A Cool Room
Those who’ve problem falling asleep usually have a higher core body temperature immediately prior falling asleep as compared to their healthier counterparts. Thus, this group of insomniacs needs to wait for at least 2 to 4 hours before their body temperature lowers and initiates sleep.
Research shows that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius. When you’re trying to sleep, your brain enjoys the cold environment.
Besides, sleeping in a cold bedroom also helps in anti-aging. It aids in releasing of anti-aging hormones known as melatonin, a potent antioxidant that tackles inflammation, strengthens the immune system, prevents cognitive deterioration and cancer.
There’s a saying that those who go to bed early and rise early live longer. It makes a lot of sense considering that sleeping in a cold bedroom reduces neurodegeneration and oxidative stress. I can go on and on regarding the anti-aging benefits of having a good night sleep in a cold environment. But the key to enhancing the production of anti-aging hormones in your body is to have an adequate sleep.
And the first step to do that is to create an optimal sleeping environment by lowering the bedroom temperature. Insufficient sleep brings a lot of harmful effects to your physical and mental health. Ultimately, it can put your life at risk. So make sure to fix your sleeping habits, and you can begin doing so by creating an optimal sleeping environment.
5. Break A Sweat
Exercise early. It’s no secret that exercise improves sleep and overall health. But a study published in the journal Sleep shows that the amount of exercise done and when they workout make a difference. Researchers found that women who exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes each morning, 7 days a week, have less trouble sleeping than women who exercise less or later in the day. Morning exercise seems to positively affect our body rhythms that in turn improves our sleep quality.
One of the reasons for this interplay between exercise and sleep may be body temperature. Your body temperature rises during exercise and takes up to 6 hours to drop back down to normal. It’s because cooler body temperatures link to better sleep. So it’s important to give your body time to cool down before bed.
Sleep is a crucial part of our health and healing. Take it seriously, and seek out the help of a functional medicine practitioner if you can’t get your sleep under control. All these require discipline and commitment. Once you reset your biological clock and fall back into the normal sleep rhythm, you’ll finally enjoy the benefits of restful, restorative sleep.
Chapter 5: Lifestyle Modification for Insomniac
In the previous chapter, we talked about the two fundamental categories of remedies to overcome insomnia. However, these extrinsic factors could not deal with the root of insomnia. Yes, you can feel better after trying out those remedies, but insomnia can only be healed completely if the origin of the problem is removed. Otherwise, there is a high chance for insomnia to relapse.
So what is the root of insomnia? For many, the primary cause of insomnia is having a poor lifestyle and sleep habits. Simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to the quality of your sleep.
Although not all insomnia is caused by stress, but it is undeniable that people who experience ongoing stress are more susceptible to insomnia. In the case of stress-related insomnia, treating or eliminating the stress will alleviate insomnia. As mentioned in the earlier chapter of this book, stress affects the quality of one’s sleep which can upset his or her sleep rhythm. Thus, one will find it difficult to fall asleep at night and stay awake during the day.
It is important to handle all parts of your life in the best manner possible to ensure that you are at a healthy balance. You need to make sure that you are getting sufficient sleep on a daily basis. Sleep plays a major role in your physical health. Insufficient sleep for a short time may make you more moody and irritable. Long-term effects can be serious: cardiac problems, depression, stroke, heart attack, to name a few.
According to sleep experts, several studies showed that when people get sufficient sleep, they will not only feel better, but will also increase their odds of living longer, healthier, and more accomplished lives.
To overcome insomnia, you should stay away from any nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. All of these will cause the mind to become restless overtime naturally. Having a constant amount of caffeine will force the mind to be more active than it is.
Most people need the energy to start their day, so they chose stimulant. Caffeine is one of the most popular choices of stimulant today to ensure alertness and wakefulness in the morning and for the rest of the day. However, they’re ignorant to the fact that caffeine is one of the leading causes of insomnia. It screws up the natural balance of wakefulness and sleep.
Therefore, insomniacs should stay away from these drinks to have a quality sleep. Skip that coffee break, reach for a glass of plain water instead of the coffee, which may be the reason why you are having trouble falling and staying asleep at night.
Besides that, setting up a sleep schedule for yourself is one of the best self-help techniques for insomnia. It is a major step in overcoming insomnia for good. It is so important to go to bed at the same time at night and wake up the same time every morning because the body needs consistency. The body likes a routine. It thrives on habit. With a regular bedtime and wake-up time, your body is more likely to stay on track. If you can, avoid alternating schedules, late night parties, night shifts or other things that may disrupt your sleep schedule.
When you have a difficult time falling asleep, try to drink a glass of warm milk. It is a traditional remedy for insomnia, and there’s evidence that it can help you to get better quality sleep. Not only does milk help prevent hunger from disturbing your sleep, but it also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is converted in the brain into a “relaxing” chemical known as serotonin. Calcium is very pro-metabolic, reducing stress and decreasing levels of parathyroid hormone, which has been known to play a role in insomnia.
Not just that, you can always adjust your own daily schedule to include time for yoga or meditation. There is an abundance of evidence that yoga and meditation can improve sleep patterns, often dramatically. Having some relaxation time for yourself is important. These techniques can be done at home for both comfort and privacy. It helps to increase the total flexibility of your body, relax your mind and destress your body. Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day to either meditate or yoga. Typically meditation and yoga are best done in the early morning, in a quiet place and with exposure to sunlight.
For meditation, all you have to do is sit down and clear your mind. Try to listen to relaxing music to help calm you down. The moment you start to get used to the idea of meditating throughout the day, the mind will be able to relax faster at night and therefore you will have an easier time falling asleep.
As for yoga, you can either go for yoga classes with a bunch of friends or practice at home for more privacy. It will benefit your sleep in many ways. The practice of certain yoga postures will increase the blood circulation to the sleep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle.
Remember, sleep is not a lifestyle choice or a luxury; it is natural and necessary. So root out the underlying causes, change your diet, drink a glass of warm milk, set up a sleeping schedule, do some yoga and meditate. Follow the pieces of advice mentioned above, and eventually, you’ll get your quality sleep.
Chapter 6: Switching Off
Fighting insomnia is an uphill battle. When you are trying to cure insomnia, you are actually trying to stop your mind from being too active at night. There is no reason to be afraid of staying up for countless nights in a row and wondering if it is all going to end.
Worrying will only bring about sleepless nights. So stop battling insomnia in your head! All that you need to do is ‘Switch Off’ your monkey brain.
At night, you want your mind to slow down to the point where you can quickly fall asleep. Having a proper amount of sleep helps you to stay fully alert the next day, and ensures a good night rest. One of the reasons why people struggle to fall asleep is because their monkey brain refuse to shut down. More often than not, they start thinking about useless things that serve no purpose but only hinder them from falling asleep.
Switching off needs practice. For many busy adults, the only time they reflect upon their lives is during bedtime! It’s good to reflect once in a while, but not during bedtime. Often times, this is the biggest culprit that stops you from falling asleep.
So for those who want to reflect on their lives, consider waking up earlier to have time in the morning to do so or even schedule some time in the evening to do some reflection.
Stimulating Night = Bad Sleep
Another reason why people fail to switch off is that they have many activities at night that are over stimulating, causing them to stay awake instead of feeling tired. Some even love to have caffeine at night! No wonder people are struggling to fall asleep! So stay away from coffee, from your mobile phones, laptops, televisions when it’s bedtime. Avoid activities that force you to think and require physical exertion at night. And most importantly, avoid ‘Blue-screen’ from the electronic devices.
Never Miss Another Night of Sleep
Another key to fall asleep is to schedule your sleep. Most people don’t do that. Instead, they choose to fall asleep only when they’re tired. But what they should do instead is to set up their routine and schedule their bedtime. Upon repetitions, your mind will be conditioned to switch off when the clock hits the usual hour to fall asleep.
Having a regular sleep routine is arguably the best technique to ensure a better quality sleep. In fact, our bodies thrive on consistent sleep schedule and regularity. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, having a consistent sleep routine will definitely help in beating chronic insomnia once and for all.
How To ‘Switch Off’ At Night
The first thing you should do after you have eaten dinner and cleaned up for the night is turn off any of your electronic devices. Having your phone or computer switched on when you are getting ready for bed will stimulate your brain and it will eventually hinder your sleep. Admit it, your electronic devices are addictive, and you won’t know when to stop.
The light will interfere your sleep pattern and cause you to stay wide awake. It’s recommended to avoid using your gadgets at all costs at least 1 hour before bedtime.
Reading before sleep is fine, but not through your electronic devices. Reading a physical book as a hobby before bed actually helps you in getting ready to sleep. It’s better not to read in your bedroom. You’re encouraged to read in another room since you do not want your mind to be active in the room that you need to fall asleep in. Again, to condition your mind to switch off the moment you step into your bedroom. If you can completely relax when reading a book, then it’s fine to do it while laying down in bed. Otherwise, it’s best to read in another room.
The next thing you can do is listen to music and write down any kind of reminders that you will need for the next day. The music will help you to calm your mind and remove your stress away. Try to listen to music that is smoother and slower in rhythm. Listening to anything that is loud or exciting will stimulate the mind, and it will be harder for you to fall asleep. For instance, you’ll find yourself in a much-relaxed state when you listen to classical music than rock music.
Another tip is to plan your days ahead before sleep. Writing down reminders for the next day helps to clear out your mind.
Staying awake in bed while constantly reminding yourself that you need to remember something will keep your mind active. Think of your notepad as a “dump it and forget it” vault. Simply grab a piece of paper and scribble a few notes down. It will help you calm down and fall asleep faster.
Another thing that you can do is have a relaxation drink such as tea right before bed. However, make sure that you stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and drinks with a high amount of sugar. A nice cup of tea can calm your mind down and helps your body to relax.
This is also an excellent way to create time for yourself. A time to quiet down and relax. You can do this while either reading or listening to music. If you don’t find pleasure in drinking tea, then consider having a light snack before bed. Do not consume anything that is too high in calorie and difficult to digest. Regardless, a light snack is good because sometimes, the reason why you’re having trouble getting to sleep is simply due to hunger.
Another way to ensure restful sleep is to bring down your room temperature. The best way to do this is to set your bedroom thermostat to be a bit cooler. Our body is conditioned in a way that when it enters a cooler environment, it will get a signal that it’s time to rest.
Also, why not take a quick shower right before bed. Preferably a cold shower to immediately cool down. Otherwise, you can try to get a bed fan, a cooler mattress, or go for a short walk before bed.
All of the things listed above can be a part of your bedtime routine. Go ahead and try them out and figure what works best for you and your schedule. In no time at all, you won’t have any trouble falling asleep and staying asleep again.
I hope this book can serve and guide you in stopping or preventing insomnia. You’re free to try any tips and strategies listed in this book to ensure a restful sleep. After all, restful sleep is the foundation for your mental and physical well-being. Whether it’s artificial or natural remedy, lifestyle changes, or setting up a routine, all these contribute to preventing insomnia.
So what to do next? It’s time to take action today!
Find out which of these methods work best for you and implement them into your daily routine. Write them down and imagine how your average day looks like when you add these strategies to your routine.
Only by trying them out, you can find out the best way for you to overcome insomnia.