What Is Insomnia?
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up often during the night? Or, maybe you wake up too early in the morning. You may be suffering from insomnia. Talk to your health care provider if it lasts longer than a few weeks and you feel tired most of the time.
What Causes Insomnia?
Some common causes of insomnia are:
Medical problems such as pain, depression, medication side effects or trouble breathing
Circadian rhythm disorder, a shift in the body's normal 24-hour activity cycle
Lifestyle factors such as a changing sleep schedule, lack of exercise or too much caffeine
Sleep settings such as a poor mattress, noise or a room that's too hot or too cold
Stress such as problems at work, money worries or family events
Talk to Your Health Care Provider
Describe your sleeping problems to your health care provider. Try to keep a daily sleep diary for a week or two. Write down the time you go to bed, the time you wake up and anything that seems to affect your sleep. Your health care provider can work with you to develop a treatment plan. You may need to learn good sleeping habits and make some lifestyle changes. If you have any medical problems, these may need to be treated first.
Insomnia Can Be Treated
Good sleeping habits are a key part of treatment. If needed, some medications may help you sleep better at first. Making healthy lifestyle changes and learning to relax can improve your sleep. Treating insomnia takes commitment, but trust that your efforts will pay off.
Your lifestyle affects your health and your sleep. Here are some healthy habits:
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Exercise regularly. It may help you reduce stress. Avoid strenuous exercise for two to four hours before bedtime.
Avoid or limit naps.
Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
Don't spend too much time in bed trying to fall asleep. If you can't fall asleep, get up and do something until you become tired and drowsy.
Avoid or limit caffeine and nicotine. They can keep you awake at night. Also avoid alcohol. It may help you fall asleep at first, but your sleep will not be restful.
To sleep better every night, try these tips:
Have a bedtime routine to let your body and mind know when it's time to sleep.
Think of going to bed as relaxing and enjoyable. Sleep will come sooner.
If your worries don't let you sleep, write them down in a diary. Then close it, and go to bed.
Make sure the room is not too hot or too cold. If it's not dark enough, an eye mask can help. If it's noisy, try using earplugs.
Use Medications Wisely
Over-the-counter sleeping pills may help you fall asleep. But over time they can become less effective or cause side effects. Some other medications may contain caffeine or stimulants that will keep you awake. Talk to your health care provider before taking any medication.
Learn to Relax
Stress, anxiety, and body tension may keep you awake at night. To reduce stress, do things you enjoy before bedtime. Find a way to relax that works for you. Try a warm bath, meditation or yoga. Also, try the following:
Deep breathing. Sit or lie back in a chair. Take a slow, deep breath. Hold it for 5 counts. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Keep doing this until you feel relaxed.
Progressive muscle relaxation. Tense and then relax the muscles in your body as you breathe deeply. Start with your feet and work up your body to your neck and face.