Insomnia: An Essential Guide To End Sleepless Nights
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There are so many reasons why people need to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, it is not just designed for physical health, but for the mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health as well.
By simply having a good quality sleep every night, the quality of one’s life will also improve.
The amount of sleep humans need greatly varies with every person, yet on average, an adult must have 8 sleeping hours. Some people have the ability to do well in school or at work with only 6 hours of sleep, while others require 10.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, all people need to get the right sleep because this is how the body recuperates all the energy it has lost after a tiring day.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia 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.
In other words, insomnia is defined as the incapability to sleep, not depending upon the number of sleeping hours, but on the quality of sleep.
Thus, even if a person is able to sleep 8 hours during the night, but feel tired when he wakes up, that means the person might be suffering from insomnia.
Types of Insomnia
- Acute Insomnia:
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.
2. Chronic Insomnia
It’s a prolonged kind of insomnia that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts for at least three months. Usually, this occurs when a person is facing a significant change in his environment, physically or mentally.
How Insomnia Can Affect the Body
Psychologists and scientists who conducted studies on sleep disorders have found out that sleep deprivation can have an adverse effect on the following:
Metabolic Functions – The processes required for a living organism’s maintenance.
The Immune System – This system is a defense mechanism that is made up of a large network of organs, tissues, and cells working together to give the body shield from any infectious organisms like toxins, parasites, viruses, microbes and bacteria.
Cardiovascular System – This system comprises of capillaries, blood and heart vessels, veins and arteries. It transports gases, metabolic wastes, hormones and foods to and from the cells.
Nervous System – The brain, an integral part of the nervous system, controls everything concerning the body such as fundamental functions, sensations, emotions, thoughts and actions.
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Lack of energy or fatigue at different moments of the day
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering
- Increased errors or accidents
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, impaired memory, slowed speech and having a low-performance level in the workplace.
Disinhibition pertains to poor risk evaluation and lack of self-control. It commonly results to a reduced ability in managing or editing their response to a certain situation.
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.
Common causes of insomnia
- Mental health disorder
- Poor sleep habits
- Medical condition
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. This situation is typical when a person experiences any pain in his body. The best way to fall asleep and stay asleep fast is to get the body in a comfortable position in bed. It will also aid in healing and ensure a more productive sleep. Otherwise, the person might find himself in a constant battle to fall asleep and even opt for unnecessary medication if he can’t get into his best sleeping posture.
With all of these different causes in mind, we can now move on to the cure.
Cure: Home Remedies
- What to eat?
- What to drink?
One of the things that people can never escape in this world is stress. In order for the body to be recharged for the next day’s challenges, it is important to de-stress and get a good night’s sleep.
In accordance with Mark Stibich, Ph.D, sleeping is an important function in keeping the body strong and up for anything. To be specific, it is responsible for cellular repair, muscular repair, energy, memory, concentration, etc.
Constant sleep deprivation increases the body’s risk of having infections, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. With the different distractions in life, having good quality sleep every night can be a difficult one for some people. Therefore, it is important to wind down.
The following are some of the best ways to wind down:
Turn Off What Must Be Turned Off – 2 hours before bedtime, turn off the computer and TV. The stimulation coming from this kind of electromagnetic stress will keep the mind ticking into the late hours of the night, causing to be more aggravated and stressed.
Pamper Yourself – After a hard day’s work, one needs to pamper oneself by simply taking a hot bath or shower. The warm water can relieve achy and tired muscles. In order to soothe the entire body completely, one can also add in lavender shower gel into the tub. To make the bathing moments more special and invigorating, set the bathroom with scented candles. When done, apply the favorite lotion to the skin and go to bed. But don’t forget to dry hair.
Breathe Deeply – Before going to bed, one needs to engage in meditation or a deep breathing exercise. Doing so will aid in lowering one’s heart rate, thus resulting in a more relaxed and calm state of mind. In every deep and long breath, one take can also have a chance to release all the physical and mental stress.
Take Time to Read – Before going to bed, a person should try to read favorite magazines or books. This will not just take the mind to a positive state but will make a person sleepy as well. Therefore, he will fall into deep slumber more easily.
Drink Tea – A hot tea prior to bed will surely soothe and invigorate the senses. Its warmth will help slow the body’s system and lull into a deep sleep. A person should not drink coffee because it will make him awake all night due to its high caffeine content.
One of the best ways to give oneself a treat is through winding down. By following the ideas mentioned in this article, one will surely have the most relaxing and deepest slumber ever.
2. What to eat?
Proteins and Carbohydrates
Foods rich in carbohydrates like bread and pasta can make one fall asleep easily. They perfectly work with proteins to stimulate sleepiness, making combinations like crackers and cheese, cereal with milk, or toasted peanut butter great bedtime snacks. However, eating a large meal with a high amount of carbohydrates before bedtime can make one feel tired. One should also limit the protein consumption before going to bed because foods rich in it contain tyrosine, a type of amino acid that rouse the activity of the brain.
Yogurt, cheese, and milk are some of the foods that are rich in tryptophan, a type of amino acid that converts to serotonin and melatonin—both considered as good sleep inducers.
Peanuts, Poultry, Bananas, and Oats
Just like dairy foods, peanuts, poultry, bananas, and oats also contain tryptophan. Low-protein and high-carbohydrate meals are also believed to increase tryptophan levels.
These foods usually stimulate heartburn, which may keep a person awake all night long. So, if the body is not quite comfortable with spicy foods, then the person need to avoid them because his sleep quality will be at stake.
Caffeine and Energy Dips
The energy of the body naturally flows and ebbs throughout the day. In accordance with the National Sleep Foundation, there are common times for sleepiness—specifically 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. Taking a nap, especially in the afternoon, will help balance the energy and guarantee a normal duration of sleep at night. It is also crucial to plan caffeine intake around the sleep patterns. Just like sugar, a high amount of caffeine makes valleys and peaks of energy that may disrupt the sleep patterns. Drinking a small amount of caffeine throughout the day is also proven helpful when it comes to sustaining energy.
Primeval survival intuitions associated with food availability can reorganize the patterns of the sleep or circadian rhythm. By simply fasting for about 16 hours will trigger the brain that food is in short supply. Upon eating the food at a certain time that a person wish to be awake, the body will think that food is really present during that time, and will reorganize the pattern of his sleep. This is by far one of the most functional tricks that will help alter a sleep schedule for a time zone change, exercise routine or job change.
3. What to drink?
The main ingredient in coffee is caffeine. This is popularly known as the most common drug in the world because it is a stimulant that works by increasing the body’s energy levels. Research shows that coffee drinkers suffer from a wide range of sleep disorders such as apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy.
Coffee can make a person feel energetic the whole day, but it can make him feel restless the moment he goes to bed.
It is believed that drinking alcohol before going to bed will make a person feel relaxed and easier to enter dreamland. This may be true to others, but studies show that this beverage can disrupt sleep and increase the tendency to snore. According to London Sleep Centre scientists, it acts as a sedative but can disrupt the body’s sleeping pattern.
Those who sleep under the influence will feel like they have been in a deep sleep, but they have actually been deprived of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
What is alarming nowadays is that so many people have become dependent on alcohol in order to sleep. Experts claim that this is very dangerous to the body because it can lead to addiction and worse, insomnia.
The Relationship of Alcohol and Snoring
Many people think that by drinking too much alcohol, they will immediately fall into a deep sleep. As aforementioned, since it is a sedative, it can cheat the body out of good quality sleep. This is the reason why people who drink alcohol still get tired right after 8 to 9 hours of sleep.
Studies show that alcohol can turn a non-habitual snorer to a habitual one and worse, it can increase his/her tendency to suffer from apnea. This is because alcohol makes the tissue around the nasal passages and throat relaxed, thus making the soft tissue to vibrate and move.
People suffering from this pesky sleeping disorder usually resort to medication, as it is convenient and offers quick results. However, the major drawback of medicines is that they can be very addictive.
Good thing, there are some healthy alternatives that can help you to be free from insomnia without spending a fortune and exposing your body to risks and side effects.
Thanks to Exercises
By simply stretching the muscles and moving the joints, one will no longer feel like he is a living zombie due to the inability to sleep. The following are some of the most ideal exercises that will give the body a boost and set the sleeping pattern on the right track:
Stress Relaxation Exercises – The key to having a good night’s sleep is relaxation. One of the most common and effective relaxation strategies is to count backward. In doing so, the excessively active neuron activity in the brain will be deactivated, so the person will become bored and go off to a deep slumber. But wait. If someone doesn’t want to count backward, he can just count sheep instead.
Breathing Exercise – one can also perform a deep breathing exercise involving the ribcage, lower back, lower abdomen, and chest. By simply inhaling deeply and fully, the parasympathetic nervous system which controls relaxation will be affected. This will result in sleep and comfort. In addition, since the person is inhaling more oxygen amount, his supply of the blood increases within the brain and body. As a result, the essential nutrients which aid to sleep better properly flow to the brain. This exercise is taught in Art of Living and Reiki.
Muscle Relaxation Exercise – This is by far the simplest exercise that can help a person avoid insomnia. All he needs to do is tense his muscles to the toes and relax them suddenly. When all the muscle groups are relaxed, he will not find it hard to enter dreamland. Acute stress will cause the muscles to have high tension. So, when the muscles are relaxed and tensed, the level of tension will drop below the normal level, thus helping to achieve a higher level of relaxation. However, he must be comfortable prior to performing this kind of exercise.
Meditation – This is another effective exercise that can treat a person suffering from insomnia. All he has to do is work on the basic meditation aspect whereby he is concentrating on his breathing, on an object, or on a word. This activity will pave the way for him to have peace of mind and relaxation. Bear in mind that visual imagery is a great strategy that will aid him to distract his mind from your current problems.
By simply having a good quality sleep every night, the quality of life will also improve. However, this will only be possible if an insomniac person will fix his lifestyle and eat a balanced diet. In other words, the quality of sleep a person will get will depend on the everyday choices he makes and on how he live his life.
The information given above is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is for general information only.