Sleep Better: A Survival Guide for Insomnia Sufferers

It’s 2:00 in the morning, you are still lying awake after tossing and turning for ages, and you realize you have to get up for work in the next few hours. Despite feeling tired, you just can’t get to sleep, and you resign yourself to one more sleepless night, where it’s just you and your ticking clock for company. Sound familiar? Chances are, you are suffering from insomnia. Welcome to our survival guide, where we hope to provide you with some good advice to help you get your z’s again.

What is insomnia?

The occasional sleepless night isn’t necessarily a problem, as we can all suffer from those. But if you are wiling away the night endlessly without any sleep at all, or waking up constantly throughout the night, leaving you feeling unrefreshed the next day, then you are probably suffering from insomnia. However, insomnia isn’t a lone condition. Look at it as a symptom brought about by any number of factors. These can include stress, an overload of caffeine, or underlying health conditions. Because insomnia can be attributed to something else, thankfully, there will be ways your sleeplessness can be cured.

Causes of insomnia

Let’s look at some of the causes of insomnia in a little more detail. If you are struggling to sleep, could any of these issues be the root factor?

Stress: We all experience stress, but if your problems are keeping you awake at night, you need to do something about the underlying issues. Are you having problems at work? Are there issues within your home life? Do you have money troubles? Whatever the cause of your stress, it’s important to understand your problem, and take steps to alleviate it. The answer lies within you, and whether the issue is long or short-term, get the help you need. Not being able to sleep is not going to help your stress levels, either, so speak to your doctor for further advice.

Depression: Often linked to stress, but not always the case. If you are constantly feeling emotionally flat, with feelings of helplessness, you should speak to your doctor. He may prescribe medication, as depression is often caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. There are natural ways to beat depression of course, and this includes regular exercise and eating a healthier diet, so look at your lifestyle as well as seeking medical advice.

Health issues: Your doctor will have already given you advice for your health issues, but if you are having trouble sleeping because of them, you should return to your doctor for further help. Should you have chronic aches and pains, you may have been prescribed medication that is disrupting your sleep pattern further. A dose of sleeping tablets may be the answer, or a change of painkiller to ease your suffering. In any case, you need help from a professional.

Allergies: An allergy can affect your skin or hinder your breathing, so you may need to take medical advice. However, your bedding may be the problem, with itchy sheets, dust mites, and an accumulation of dust. For starters, make sure you wash and air your bedding often. Then consider buying an anti-allergy pillow and bed sheets to alleviate the issue.

Sleeping conditions: Have a look at your bedroom. Is it conducive to a good night’s sleep? There may be drafts coming through your doors and windows. There may be too much light getting through your windows. Your bedding may be uncomfortable. Your partner may be a terrible snorer! Whatever the issue in your bedroom, take steps to resolve the problem. Plug up the areas where drafts are coming from, with a doorstop or weatherstripping. Buy a set of thicker curtains. Buy a new mattress, or go one step further and consider a more comfortable bed, such as a Japanese futon bed. Then send your partner to the sofa downstairs… or be kind and buy him some nasal strips!

Consider your nighttime habits

Your inability to sleep may not be due to the regular causes of insomnia. In fact, your habits may be the underlying cause, so consider the following. If any of them are relevant to you, it’s time to kick the habit into touch and make some changes.

Your sleeping schedule: Your biological clock may be out of sync, especially if you aren’t sticking to a regular schedule. This includes getting up early for work during the weekdays but staying in bed longer during the weekend. The same applies at night. If you’re in bed by 10 on a working day, but stay up past midnight on a weekend, your body clock will be out of sorts. Try and stick to the same schedule every day when possible, as this will regulate your sleeping rhythm.

The use of screens: Whether you watch tv just before you go to bed, or spend an hour or so on your smartphone or tablet before trying to get your z’s, your mind will find it difficult to shut down for the night. Instead of looking at a screen, try an activity that will get you to sleep. Reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or practicing a meditation, are just some of the activities that will rest both your body and mind.

Late night snacks: If you are feeling peckish, you should eat something light, such as fortified cereals or fruit. You need to avoid anything that contains caffeine, such as chocolate, and definitely avoid heavy meals, as the food will sit uncomfortably within your stomach. There is a helpful list here, so have a read and remember their recommendations the next time you are in need of a late night snack.

Napping during the day: Especially if you have had difficulty sleeping at night, you may be prone to the occasional nap in the daytime. A short nap is fine, but if you are having regular naps during the day, resist the urge to close your eyes. Find something to busy yourself with, or get some fresh air and go for a walk or spend time in the garden. The less time you nap, the more tired you will be at night. Insomnia sufferers still find it difficult to sleep, despite feeling tired, but there may be another underlying factor on this list which needs considering.

Drinking alcohol or caffeine: While alcohol does make you feel drowsy, it also affects your sleeping pattern. Caffeine is also a problem, as drinking coffee, for example, will alert your senses, and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Avoid both types of drink before bedtime, and replace them with sleep boosting beverages, such as milk, water, or herbal tea.

Getting to sleep

So, what to do if you are awake at 2 am and still can’t sleep? We have covered some of the causes and solutions to sleeplessness, but you might also try the following.

Practice breathing techniques: There are a number of relaxation exercises you can try, and these will help you focus on your breathing patterns instead of your worried thoughts about not being able to sleep. Find a technique that suits you and practice it regularly.

Write down your worries: If you are going to bed with a head full of worries, the last thing you want to do is lie awake thinking about them. Instead, get them out of your head and onto a piece of paper, jotting each one down until your head feels clearer.

Get out of bed: Lying awake isn’t going to help you, especially if you are fretting about your inability to sleep. No matter how tired you still feel, get out of bed, and do a little exercise, or open a window and get some fresh air. Then, when you get back into bed, read something for a few minutes, calm your worried mind, and try to get back to sleep again.

And finally…

Whether you suffer from insomnia or not, we hope you found our advice helpful. However, always seek the help from a qualified professional if you are genuinely struggling to sleep on a regular basis. A doctor or a counsellor will help you get to the bottom of your problem, and advise you on the best way forwards. Thanks for reading, and we hope you manage to get all the rest and sleep you need.

This post might be linked to any one of the parties listed on my Link Parties and Communities Page

1 comment:

  1. Thankfully I don't generally have trouble sleeping, except when it is so hot and I can't sleep unless I take something but that is rare


Do you have any tips or thoughts to add?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...