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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.
Table of contents
- Can’t Sleep? 31 Easy Tips for Getting Better Sleep Right Now
- The 3-Day Fix for Energy
- Can’t sleep? Perhaps you’re overtired
- How much sleep do we need?
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 the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, resulting in unrefreshing or non-restorative sleep. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems. Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping—not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off.
Although insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, it is not a single sleep disorder. The problem causing the insomnia differs from person to person. It could be something as simple as drinking too much caffeine during the day or a more complex issue like an underlying medical condition or feeling overloaded with responsibilities. The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be cured with changes you can make on your own—without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills. 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. Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when the insomnia is tied to an obvious temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.
Medical problems or illness. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine Midol, Excedrin , diuretics, and slimming pills.
Sleep disorders. While treating underlying physical and mental issues is a good first step, it may not be enough to cure your insomnia.
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You also need to look at your daily habits. 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.
Can’t Sleep? 31 Easy Tips for Getting Better Sleep Right Now
Oftentimes, changing the habits that are reinforcing sleeplessness is enough to overcome the insomnia altogether. It may take a few days for your body to get used to the change, but once you do, you will sleep better. Some habits are so ingrained that you may overlook them as a possible contributor to your insomnia.
Maybe your Starbucks habit affects your sleep more than you realize. Two powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia are a quiet, comfortable sleep environment and a relaxing bedtime routine. Both can make a big difference in improving the quality of your sleep. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. 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. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
The 3-Day Fix for Energy
This condition causes uncomfortable sensations in your legs, such as tingling or aching. These sensations give you the urge to make your legs move frequently, including while resting, which can interrupt your sleep. Delayed sleep phase disorder is another condition that can affect sleep. This condition causes a delay in the hour cycle of sleep and wakefulness. You may not feel sleepy or fall asleep until the middle of the night. This sleep cycle makes it harder for you to wake up in the early morning and leads to daytime fatigue.
You should see a doctor if your sleeping difficulties are ongoing and affecting your quality of life. During your appointment, be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription medications, over-the-counter products, and herbal supplements that you take. Some medications and supplements cause overstimulation and can disrupt your sleep if taken too close to bedtime. These factors may also affect your ability to sleep. If your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or another sleep disorder, they may schedule a sleep study test.
A sleep specialist will observe you throughout the night. Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, oxygen level, and brain waves will be monitored for any signs of a sleep disorder.
Treatment for your sleeplessness depends on its cause. In some cases, at-home remedies or simple lifestyle changes can improve the quality of your sleep. You may want to avoid caffeine and alcohol for at least a few or more hours before bed. Limit any daytime napping to 30 minutes or none at all if possible. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime, and allow seven to eight hours for sleep each night. Listening to soothing music and taking a hot bath before bedtime may also help. Keep a regular sleep schedule. You may also purchase some sleep aids without a prescription.
Can’t sleep? Perhaps you’re overtired
For example, if your sleep is affected by anxiety disorder or depression, your doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication to help you cope with worry, stress, and feelings of hopelessness. If left untreated, chronic sleep problems can greatly affect your qualify of life. Your reaction time when driving may decrease, which increases your risk of an accident. An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won't harm your health.
How much sleep do we need?
After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You'll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases. Find out how to tell if you're too tired to drive. If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
If you seem to catch every cold and flu that's going around, your bedtime could be to blame. Prolonged lack of sleep can disrupt your immune system, so you're less able to fend off bugs. Sleeping less may mean you put on weight! It's believed to be because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin the chemical that makes you feel full and increased levels of ghrelin the hunger-stimulating hormone.
Given that a single sleepless night can make you irritable and moody the following day, it's not surprising that chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety. When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than 6 hours a night.
Studies have suggested that people who usually sleep less than 5 hours a night have an increased risk of developing diabetes. It seems that missing out on deep sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body processes glucose, which the body uses for energy.
Men and women who don't get enough quality sleep have lower libidos and less of an interest in sex, research suggests. Men who suffer from sleep apnoea — a disorder in which breathing difficulties lead to interrupted sleep — also tend to have lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido.
Long-standing sleep deprivation seems to be associated with increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and higher levels of certain chemicals linked with inflammation, which may put extra strain on your heart.