Sleep has been one of the most elusive things for many people.
How many nights have you tossed and turned in bed without getting a wink of sleep of anywhere close to it?
You wake up, try doing different things instead of trying to fall asleep, but you are unable to do that.
You get up from the bed, make yourself a warm glass of milk and finally try falling asleep after a lot of effort. In the process, you end up wasting precious time in just trying to fall asleep!
Many people opine that the inability to fall asleep comes because one’s mind is occupied with constant thoughts and worries about negativities in our day-to-day lives.
Not only does sleep deprivation make you feel tired and exhausted the next day, over a period of time, sleep deprivation is harmful to the body. Its negative effects are too many to name.
You are drowsy the whole day and are unable to concentrate at work. You don’t get any work done and you have a bad day.
What begins as a matter of a single day turns into an everyday story, making you fall into the vicious cycle of Insomnia, which is diagnosed as a valid medical condition.
Once diagnosed as having a medical condition, not only will your life revolve around painful visits to doctors, running around laboratories getting a plethora of tests done, but you will also be sucked into the addictive habit of consuming allopathic medicines.
Before the problem of sleepless nights goes out of your control, it is the time you diagnose it yourself and take steps to prevent its occurrence.
Classified as a sleep disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V, which is a wing of the psychological association, Insomnia is said to be characterized by either the inability to fall asleep or the loss of the ability to stay asleep as long as you desire.
Not only is Insomnia a general cause of concern as it disrupts your daily routine and activities, it is also a signifier of a medical illness. Insomnia can happen to anyone, of any age.
But studies have shown that they mostly affect people who are over sixty years of age. Insomnia can be of two types, based on its duration.
If you experience sleep difficulties for a period of three weeks or less, then it is classified as Short Term Insomnia. However, if the same symptoms persist for more than three weeks, then it can be called as Long Term Insomnia.
Long term Insomnia is a risky affair as it can lead to problems associated with memory, depression and irritability.
A major cause of automobile accidents in many countries around the world is Long Term Insomnia.
Consuming sleeping pills is a common way to overcome Insomnia. It is also often the most prescribed form of treatment for Insomnia.
Though it might appear to be helpful in early stages, popping sleeping pills every day can be disastrous as it can create substance dependence. In short, these pills contain chemicals that make them addictive in nature if used for extended periods of time.
Insomnia can also be of many types based on whether it is a disorder on its own or whether it exists in relation to and in the presence of other disorders.
In most cases, however, Insomnia occurs by itself, without the need for a secondary disorder to be present.
For a person to be diagnosed clinically as suffering from Insomnia, he or she has to be diagnosed with one or more of these symptoms: the difficulty to fall asleep, or maintain the state of sleep, characterized by an inability to go back to a state of sleep.
Insomniacs often awake in the early morning without being able to fall asleep again and complete their required amount of sleep.
It is scientifically proven that an average person needs at least eight hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period. A prolonged loss of sleep could be fatal.
For the diagnosis of Insomnia, the disturbance in sleep must also cause clinically significant or overtly noticeable difference in other spheres of the person’s life.
In addition to this, the person must exhibit these characteristics at least thrice a week and for a period of at least three months.
The inability to fall asleep must not also be a result of having some other mental or physical disorder that could lead to this. It shouldn’t be explainable by any other possible reasons.
Medically explained reasons for Insomnia
- Use of certain drugs like stimulants which accentuate brain functioning, thereby inhibiting sleep.
- Withdrawal from certain other drugs likes anti-depressants.
- Any form of physical pain or discomfort that is caused by an injury of some sort.
- Undergoing traumatic life events that can put the person in a lot of emotional stress and insecurity.
- Hormonal changes, especially for women, before the onset of their periods.
- Stomach upsets, heartburn or constipation also leads to sleepless nights.
- Certain mental disorders like Dementia, ADHD and Bipolar disorder are again, a popular reason.
- Disturbances in routine – like a change in work timings or jet leg, for example.
- Over consumption of caffeine or poor sleep hygiene.
- Over use of sedatives and the addiction resulting from that.
- The high rate of metabolism in an individual that keeps the brain active all the time.
An individual suffering from Insomnia must undertake every effort to see what is causing his state of non-sleep. In most cases, people often identify the causes by themselves.
If the causes are taken care of or eliminated, it is highly possible that one need not seek medical treatment for Insomnia. For example, an individual may not fall asleep because he or she does not have the ability to fall asleep in a noisy room.
This is surely not to be diagnosed as Insomnia! Older people, people with a history of mental illness, people who constantly travel between time zones and those facing emotional stress are at a higher risk of being insomniacs.
If you are one of those people who can’t fall asleep, here are some of the ways in which you can ease yourself into falling asleep. Follow these tips and be assured of a healthy sleep pattern!
How to Sleep Quickly
1. Keep your electronic gadgets off
Certain hormones need to be produced by the body in order for you to fall asleep.
Disturbances in the environment around you can cause the suppression of these hormones. Hence, ensure that all items that can add to this process, like laptops, cell phones, video games and television, must be turned off.
Studies have revealed that people who strain their eyes by playing video games or watching excessive amounts of television are more prone to not falling asleep.
Also, make sure that you say no to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
If you can’t stop using them completely, at least, limit your usage. A wise thing to do would be to not engage in any of the above-said activities, at least, an hour before going to bed.
2. Have a hot shower
A hot shower is not only de-stressing and soothing for your body, it also makes you fall asleep much more quickly. Do not have a shower in cold water as it drives sleep away!
Half an hour before going to bed, let your body soak in the pleasures of a hot shower.
Pay attention to every need of your body. Also, keep your room cool as most people cannot sleep well in a stuffy, unventilated room.
If you have enough safety, try and see if you can leave the windows open so that cool air enters your room.
3. Turn the lights off
Bright lights are of the major reasons why people have difficulty falling asleep.
Turn off lamps, lights of all sorts so that you can fall asleep quicker. Avoid any source of direct, bright light.
If needed, use a pair of eye bands to cover your eyes so that you don’t come in contact with blinding light.
4. Read a few pages of writing
Grab a book that you have been waiting to read for many days now and snuggle into your bed.
Nothing can beat the joy of falling asleep with a book in hand. Also, it is one of the most relaxing ways of inducing sleep. Also, be careful with the kind of things that you read.
Do not read anything that disturbs you or your state of mind. Read something which is calming and has a soothing effect on your mind.
5. Be stress-free
One of the major reasons for the inability to fall asleep is stress.
Ensure that you plan your day in such a way that you are not facing stress. Have some time scheduled for yourself every day. Devote a fair amount of time to your body, and its needs.
At least a couple of hours before bed, make sure you remove all unwanted thoughts from your head. Keep a pleasant state of mind.
If you have persistent, troubling thoughts, write them out in a diary and get them out of your mind.
6. Drink something warm
Surprise, or no surprise, a warm drink like a glass of hot milk is one of the easiest ways to fall asleep.
Make sure that you do not consume anything that is caffeinated in the evening. Milk with honey, chamomile or almonds is a good way to induce sleep.
7. Have the right position
Sleeping on your sides is always more helpful to fall asleep as it cuts the chances of you snoring and disturbing yourself.
If pillows are the problem, adjust them according to your tastes. Change the angle as you want, except keep in mind that you shouldn’t compromise the position of your neck.
8. Pop supplement pills
Many vitamins and minerals have the natural tendency to induce sleep. Calcium and magnesium are two of the oldest substances that are used for this purpose.
Valerin root supplements are also immensely helpful.
If it still doesn’t help, take the hormone Melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for sleep. Ensure proper dosage or consult a doctor.
9. Do not wear body-hugging clothes
Many people have the habit of wearing to bed the same clothes they wear throughout the day. Bedclothes are meant for a reason.
Always change into something comfortable and not tight before you go to bed. Also, use the bathroom before trying to fall asleep. The urge to pee will only contribute more to you staying up.
10. Keep the sound levels low
Any unwanted noise is a huge obstruction to sleep.
Turn off any noise that might hinder you, like the noise of a running refrigerator or the sound of water trickling. Instead, listen to soothing music that induces sleep.
11. Use lavender oils
Add a few drops of lavender oils on to your pillow or rub a few drops of it on your body before you fall asleep.
It is immensely relaxing and creates a nice environment for your body to soothe. Or light a scented candle and let the fragrance waft you to sleep.
12. Try counting!
You don’t have to go back to nursery rhymes, but studies have shown that counting actually tires you out and makes you fall asleep.
Try something fun to count, instead of just sheep and watch yourself hit the bed!
13. Change the way you do things
Keep your room clean, have an early dinner and ensure that you don’t work out at night. Also, to have a good sleep cycle, do not fall asleep in the middle of the day.
A quick afternoon nap might just spoil your chance for a good night of sleep. Go for a jog early in the morning. Stretch your muscles out and get your daily dose of exercise.
Eat healthy food and drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Have a regulated sleep cycle.
If the symptoms still persist, it is advisable that you see a physician and get medical treatment.