Too Tired To Sleep: Insomnia
Why It Occurs and How to Sleep Well
Many of you with sleeplessness or insomnia have probably tried several things to resolve this bedtime issue. Here are some statistics and some reasons for those of you unable to sleep. Hopefully, you may find something that will help.
This is the first of two articles; we will discuss herbs and foods in more detail in our second article.
People with insomnia find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Recent numbers show that insomnia affects 1/3 of adults worldwide. This does not take into account all the younger teens and children now reporting lack of sleep.
Insomnia affects you mentally and physically. It also lowers your quality of life; you are more lethargic and have daytime sleepiness. Also, it decreases school and work performance.
Three types of insomnia:
- Transient usually lasts for a week or less
- Short term or acute when insomnia lasts from one to three weeks. Primary sleep issues may be due to anxiety, or overexcited brain.
- Long term or chronic insomnia is usually associated with diseases and can last months to years. This third sleep disorder could be from depression and chronic pain issues.
General Symptoms of Insomnia
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up to early
- Daytime sleepiness
- Tired when you wake up
- Irritable, depressed or anxious
- Difficulty in focusing on tasks, increased errors
Transient or short term insomnia can come from an illness, job loss, emotional or physical discomfort or environmental factors. This could include colds, allergies, temperatures, noise and light.
Even changes in routine schedules like shift work or jet lag will affect your circadian rhythms and sleep cycle.
Chronic insomnia has similar but longer term illnesses like cancer, or a death in the family. Financial difficulties can take a long time to clear up. Poor sleep habits due to irregular bedtimes, use of your bed for working on computers to eating too much late at night.
Additional long term insomnia can come from:
- Mental health disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
- Medications, the drugs you are prescribed, interfere with sleep. Certain anti-depressants, asthma and blood pressure drugs affect sleep. Some over the counter medications like cold meds and weight loss products contain caffeine that disrupt the sleep cycle.
- Medical conditions like chronic pain, heart disease, asthma, gastric reflux, and Alzheimer’s disease breaks the sleep routine.
- Sleep related disorders like sleep apnea which causes you to stop breathing periodically. Restless leg syndrome causes unpleasant sensations in legs may prevent you from staying asleep.
- Aging due to changes in activity, getting tired earlier. More disease states and more pain as you age. Problems with prostate and bladder are more common.
Risk factors can increase if:
You are a woman due to hormonal shifts during menopause, which cause hot flashes and night sweats. The hormone, Cortisol increases with stress or fears; this stops you from staying asleep. So try calming down with a lifestyle change, a warm tea or some massage.
You are on a lot of medications which interferes with your sleep cycle.
If you’re pregnant, your sleep is disrupted, since you have to empty your bladder more often and uncomfortable positions due to baby weight.
To Resolve Insomnia and Sleep Better
- Change bedtime routines or your bed! Look at what time you go to bed, be more consistent, stick with same routine. Quiet time before bed….no computers, phones or T.V. How comfortable is your bed? How old is your bed? Or consider new pillows!
- Daytime exercise. Studies show people who are more active physically sleep better than those who are sedentary. The more energy you expend during the day, sleepier you will feel at bedtime.
- Sleeping pills. Some over the counter meds; such as anti -histamines or sedative meds like Ambien or antidepressants can work for sleep.
- Avoid alcohol. It can affect your sleep cycle.
- Change your eating times. Have your last meal about 6 hours before bed.
- No late coffee drinks. Even coffee after 12 noon can keep you some people awake for bed. It stays in system for 6 hours.
- Meditation or the use of a mantra, the practice of repeating a word or phrase over and over. This is very helpful for a restless mind, it is calming and restful; just continue to focus on that one particular word.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the newest therapy promoted as working the best. This is where a provider is trained to help you change habits, behavior and control stimulus.
- Journaling helps many people, because you write down how you are feeling and why you can’t sleep.
This is a good way to work thru your emotions or habits affecting the way you sleep.
So, know you can look at your insomnia, figure out where your problems started, how your sleep cycle is affected.
Perhaps your mind is too- too active? Just completely awake and cannot go to sleep? Are you anxious or is your belly rumbling? Try changing a habit.
Do you wake up early like 2-4 am and can’t go back to sleep? This could be a cortisol issue.
Wake up, but exhausted and cannot go back to sleep?
Overactive mind …”cannot shut it down” so to speak. Try giving yourself some time to wind down from the daily activity.
Many of these suggestions may help resolve your sleep problems. You may have to do a combination of several things. Look at: www.merryherb.com.
Look at our next article about herbs that may help sleep.