It is estimated that a third of adults in the US suffers from insomnia. If you fight regular battles against sleepless nights, you’ll know the impact all too well. The trouble is that the longer you go without sleep, the more severe the symptoms. Sleep deprivation can be incredibly damaging to both your mental and physical health. If you’re waging war with insomnia, here are some tips to ensure you emerge victorious.
What’s keeping you up?
If you struggle to sleep on a regular basis, it’s important to try and determine the cause. Perhaps there is no single factor, but it’s beneficial to have a think about why you can’t seem to close your eyes and keep them shut throughout the night. Are you feeling stressed? Or is something or someone disturbing your sleep? There is a multitude of factors that may contribute to sleepless nights. Here are some of the most common causes of insomnia.
Stress is a very common contributor to disturbed sleep patterns. In some cases, stress develops after a traumatic event, but it can be associated with areas of your life such as relationships and work. If you’ve got a lot on your plate with deadlines approaching or you’re preparing for important meetings, this can make it tough to switch off when you get into bed. If you’re arguing with your partner or you’ve fallen out with a family member, this may be on your mind when you try and get to sleep. Money worries are also a common cause of both stress and anxiety. It’s very difficult to sleep soundly when all you can think about is paying bills and trying to stay afloat if the water heater breaks or the car needs work. Sometimes, stress can have a long-term impact on your sleep quality because you start to associate getting into bed with feeling stressed. After so many sleepless nights, your body starts to make a negative association with sleep, and far from being the most relaxing part of the day, nightfall brings even more stress.
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Physical health problems
There are lots of different illnesses and health problems, which can increase the risk of insomnia. Examples include conditions that affect the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and your hormone balance. If you suffer from illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, asthma or you have an injury that is causing you to experience severe pain, you may find it hard to sleep even when you feel exhausted. If you do have trouble sleeping, see your doctor. It may be possible to find remedies and treatments that can alleviate these issues.
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Mental health conditions
Psychological conditions, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder can elevate the risk of insomnia. In some cases, medication prescribed to treat these illnesses can also impact sleep patterns.
Your sleeping environment plays a very important role in your ability to sleep soundly every night. Think about where you sleep. Is it conducive to rest and relaxation? Or is it noisy or light? Do you toss and turn trying to get comfortable or find it hard to switch off when you can hear people talking outside? Your routine can also affect sleep. If you go to bed too early or too late, you may find that you don’t sleep as well as you should.
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How to overcome insomnia
Once you’ve pinpointed a cause, you can start thinking about the next step in the war against insomnia.
Coping with illness
If you have underlying physical or mental health issues, and they are affecting your ability to sleep, your first port of call should be your doctor. It may be possible to try different types of medication or dosages to try and remedy sleep problems. Your doctor may also be able to help with problems like pain during the night, and anxiety related to being unable to sleep. Sometimes, physical illnesses can have a knock-on effect on your mental health. If you’re anxious about your health or you’re worried about the future, speak to your doctor.
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Dealing with stress
There are many different ways to tackle stress. In some cases, there are practical solutions. If you’re swamped at work, for example, arrange a meeting with your boss, and ask for more help and support. If you’re constantly worrying about money, it’s wise to seek help from a financial adviser. Even if you’re not in the best situation, there may be solutions, like bad credit borrowing options, out there. The sooner you address the problem, the better. If you’re already in debt, it will only get worse.
If you’re stressed because you feel like you’ve got too much on, there are lots of self-help techniques you can try. Some people find meditation helpful while others swear by exercise. Creative activities can also help you to relax, and they’re a great way of enabling you to channel your emotions in a positive way. It may also do you good to take a day or two off. If you’re trying to juggle lots of things at the same time, try and hone your time management skills. Plan your schedule in advance, and don’t forget to set aside some time to yourself.
Creating a more positive sleeping environment
If you can’t sleep because you can’t get comfortable at night, it’s too light, or you’re woken up by the neighbors every night, take steps to create a more positive sleeping environment. Use heavy curtains or blackout blinds to block out light, and post a note through the door politely asking your neighbors if they could be a little quieter at night. If this doesn’t work, try using earplugs. Leave tablets and laptops out of the bedroom, and try and avoid checking emails or trawling through your newsfeeds on social media when you get into bed. It’s good to take time to relax before you try and nod off. If you have difficulty winding down, listen to music, read a book, run a bath or have a massage before bed.
It’s also hugely beneficial to get yourself into a bedtime routine. Regimes are not just for children. Your body works on a timer, so get your internal clock used to going to bed and getting up at set times. If you start going to sleep at 11 pm and getting up at 6 am every day, for example, you’ll soon get into a rhythm, and you’ll be getting enough sleep each and every night.
Insomnia affects millions of people all over the world every night. If you find it tough to sleep, it can have a detrimental effect on your physical health and your mental wellbeing. Before you resign yourself to a lifetime of sleepless nights, there are ways of overcoming insomnia. Perhaps the most important thing to do is to start by pinpointing potential causes. Think about what’s getting you down or why you can’t seem to stay asleep during the night. Once you know what the problem is, you can try and tackle it.
If you have health problems, whether they affect your mind or your body, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your doctor. If you’re struggling with stress, try and identify solutions. Sometimes, there will be practical ways of coping with stress, and in other cases, you may benefit from emotional support. Make sure you’re trying to get to sleep in an environment which affords you peace and quiet. Don’t underestimate the benefit of getting into a routine, especially if you find that you’re falling asleep on the sofa and then spending the entire night staring at the ceiling or listening to the ticking of the clock.