“There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.”
—Maya Angelou, “Insomniac,” Shaker Why Don’t You Sing?, 1983
Insomnia: Tackling This Common Sleep Disorder
Have you ever found yourself lying awake in bed, unable to fall asleep? You’re not alone.
Insomnia has many causes and affects people from all walks of life, including celebrities. One such celebrity is the talented and award-winning actress, Jennifer Aniston. She has been open about her struggles including what she believes caused her insomnia, her grueling work schedule. In an interview with People in 2022 she said:
“I think it started somewhere in my 30s or even earlier, but you just don’t start to notice the effects of a lack of sleep when we’re younger because we’re so invincible,” Aniston says. “It began as something that I would just accept and then all of a sudden you realize the effects of your lack of sleep and how it affects your day and your work and your mind function and your physique.”
Does this sound familiar? You could be suffering from one of the most common sleep disorders — insomnia.
Whether you’re tossing and turning from one side to the other or staring at the ceiling for hours or scrolling through your phone, trying to drift off, being unable to fall asleep is like being stuck in a loop. You can’t seem to break free, no matter how much you try. It’s an exhausting experience that often seems impossible to escape from.
Let’s look at the risk factors and common causes of the sleep disorder insomnia and what you can do to avoid sleeplessness!
Understanding Insomnia: Causes & Symptoms
We all know that sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Yet, 1 in 3 adults shows insomnia symptoms, and 10% of people worldwide experience it. Even more, in the U.S., 9% to 15% of adults have insomnia sleep disorder that interferes with their daily activities. Nighttime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings can result when you can’t sleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation may prevent you from feeling lively or rested and it can interfere with activities of daily life. Insomnia is usually defined by
- difficulty falling asleep;
- a challenge to stay asleep;
- the inability to go back to sleep; or
- waking up too early.
Insomnia can be classified into several types, including:
- Acute or short-term insomnia, that lasts for a few days to a few weeks;
- Chronic insomnia, that lasts longer than three months.
Insomnia can really affect your quality of life. People with insomnia, for example, are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Likewise, chronic insomnia raises the risk of physical ailments such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. If left untreated, insomnia and mental disorders can impact relationships and productivity.
What Causes Insomnia?
Psychological issues, sleeping habits, and your lifestyle can all cause insomnia. It is important to address these factors to ensure a good night’s sleep.
The most common causes of insomnia include:
- Excessive stress and anxiety;
- Medical conditions, such as chronic pain, respiratory issues, and gastrointestinal disorders;
- Some medications, including those used to treat asthma, high blood pressure, and depression;
- An irregular sleep schedule, caffeine, or alcohol consumption, and a lack of exercise;
- Noise, light, and temperature can all interfere with sleep.
It’s still unknown what exactly triggers insomnia. But all these underlying factors can cause sleeping difficulties making you unable to fall asleep and stay asleep. And, chronic sleep deprivation takes its toll on your mental and physical health, so it’s better to prevent sleeplessness before you suffer the consequences.
Do You Have Insomnia?
If you have trouble sleeping or falling asleep, you may wonder if you have insomnia. Its symptoms vary depending on the individual, but they all revolve around the same issue. Insomniacs may require more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or may wake up several times during the night.
As a result, you will experience fatigue and irritability during the day, as well as difficulty concentrating. Daytime sleepiness and fatigue, caused by insomnia, also influence your productivity. You can experience physical discomforts, such as headaches or stomach problems. Behavioral changes, such as relying on sleeping pills or alcohol are also among insomnia symptoms.
If you have chronic insomnia, you may struggle to sleep at least three nights per week for three months in a row. This can harm the immune system and increase the likelihood of an accident or injury. To avoid further sleep problems and complications to physical health, it is critical to recognize the symptoms of insomnia and seek treatment if necessary.
Preventing Sleep Disorders: Some Details to Consider
If you’re suffering from a sleep disorder like insomnia, there are several things you can do to avoid it in the first place. To be honest, it all starts with your sleep habits.
For starters, you should maintain a consistent sleep schedule — going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Try to keep the same sleeping patterns on the weekends, as well. This will help you to regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle while boosting your sleep quality. Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and silent to create an enjoyable sleep environment.
Limiting the use of electronic devices before sleep is also recommended. The blue light emitted by devices can harm your circadian rhythm.
Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol in the evenings, especially before bedtime. The same applies to heavy meals and exercise right before bedtime. Create a soothing nighttime routine, such as taking a bath or meditating before going to bed.
Sleeping Pills and Medications: Help or hindrance?
Many people take sleeping pills when they are unable to fall asleep to help get them through the night. However, this solution has a downside. Some people become dependent on the pills and medicated sleep isn’t necessarily the quality sleep you need for health and overall wellbeing.
Medications commonly have undesirable side effects, too. For example, one such popular sleep medication is Ambien which several celebrities like Elon Musk and Tiger Woods have blamed for poor decisions and bad behavior. Charlie Sheen even called it “the Devil’s aspirin.”
While serious cases may require medication to resolve sleep disorders, they can also lead to dependence and long-term side effects. For instance, sleeping pills can affect a person’s REM sleep, which is essential for overall health. REM sleep is responsible for brain restoration, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation. Lack of REM sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
On the other hand, natural remedies can help improve sleep quality without the negative side effects of medication. Alternatives to pharmaceutical medications and over-the-counter pills include supplements, teas, and essential oils. This is such an extensive subject that we’ll cover it in another article.
Trouble Falling Asleep? Check Out These Techniques.
If you still have difficulty falling asleep, there are proven strategies that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are some techniques that you can explore to find what will work for you.
- Consider progressive muscle relaxation. It entails tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body and can help you relax before sleep.
- Try guided imagery, which means imagining a peaceful, relaxing scene. You can also check sleeping applications for auditive sleep induction.
- Deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, and mindfulness meditation can be effective. Those involve focusing your attention on your breath and letting go of distracting thoughts.
- In need of something stronger, try cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify the thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep. CBT can help people develop healthy sleep habits, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.
- Although it might not seem logical, another natural remedy for insomnia is exercise. It has been shown to improve sleep quality by reducing stress and promoting the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Studies have also shown that people who exercise regularly fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently. Take care not to exercise too late in the day or evening when it could impair sleepiness.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Insomnia: Tips for Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Besides health habits, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sleep starting with where you sleep. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark, and that your bed is comfortable with bedding and pillows that help you relax and feel calm.
A comforting and supportive mattress is one of the most important sleeping products. If it’s either too soft or too firm can cause discomfort and pain, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Try investing in a high-quality mattress that accommodates your body’s natural curves. This way, you will have the necessary support and lower the risk of developing pain-related sleep disorders.
Pillows and bedding are also essential sleeping items to consider. Pillows that are too flat or too high can cause neck pain and stiffness, which can lead to disruptions. High-quality bedding made of breathable, natural materials can also help you relax and sleep better. Breathing easy is important at night so hypoallergenic bedding matters more than you might think.
Tired of Restless Nights? Try The Healthy Sleep System.
Getting a full, good night’s sleep is crucial for your well-being. Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from insomnia and unable to fall asleep, it’s challenging to get a restful night’s sleep, at all.
Besides making lifestyle changes, investing in high-quality sleeping products can play a role in promoting healthy sleep. If you’re looking for high-quality sleeping products, consider SAMINA. Handcrafted in the Austrian mountains, these products are designed with the latest sleep science research in mind and are made from natural, sustainable materials.
SAMINA’s unique approach, with its focus on natural materials and sleep-inducing design, allows you to sleep soundly. You’ll wake up feeling rejuvenated and have more energy to tackle the day. Contact us today to learn more about the Healthy Sleep System.