There are many guides and webpages out there describing what Insomnia is and how it makes you feel. You already know that part, what you need to know and as quickly as possible, is how to stop it or at least get one decent nights sleep. At Siestas we will keep it brief, explain the different types of insomnia and proven techniques to help.
What type of Insomnia do I have?
Short-term or acute insomnia often caused by an illness or a disruption in your usual sleep pattern. Illness can have an effect on how your body is resting at night. Your nightly sleep pattern should return to normal after a few days, but do pay attention as if it is left to prevail it may have longer lasting effects.
Long-term or chronic insomnia is when you can’t sleep more than 3-4 nights a week over a period of three months or more. Because of the frequency and longevity of the insomnia, it will take longer to restore a healthy sleep pattern and good sleep habits.
Sleep onset insomnia is probably the most common and well known type of insomnia. When you consistently have trouble falling asleep despite being extremely tired. It can take 30 minutes to several hours to fall asleep.
Sleep maintenance insomnia may mean that you can fall asleep ok, but then find yourself waking in the night and having trouble getting back to sleep. This may cause you to lay awake for several hours in the middle of the night, either not feeling tired or just completely restless. Another way you may suffer from sleep maintenance insomnia is waking early in the morning, several hours before you need to be awake.
All of these types of insomnia have the same effects on your body, leaving you feeling tired, drained and exhausted. Even if you only experience it for a few days, it can have a huge impact you your health, wellbeing and character.
What can I do about my insomnia?
Things to avoid:
- Eating too soon before bed, especially rich or spicy foods. Make sure you have 2 hours after eating, before you go to bed.
- Alcohol can help you relax but it also interferes with your sleep cycle once your asleep
- Digital devices. Your mobile / tablet emits light that simulates daylight, tricking your brain into thinking it should be staying awake. It is also a huge distraction from going to sleep.
- Coffee and tea should be avoided from late afternoon to minimise the effects of caffeine.
What to do if you can’t sleep
- Stop stressing. Easier said than done, I know. But if something is weighing on our mind. Thinking about it while you are exhausted isn’t going to help anyone.
- Write down your thoughts on a piece of paper. Even divide it into good / bad. It will help you rationalise your thoughts and may allow your brain to relax.
- Read a book with a dim light
- Practice a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation or visualisation (we will be covering these techniques in future months).
Things to try
- Increasing the amount of exercise you get. Not only is it a great stress release, but your body will also need to rest to repair and grow. Try to avoid exercise too late in the day.
- Improve your diet. Increasing the amount of healthy food in your diet can improve how your body processes the nutrients.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. Making sure you drink enough is extremely important and helps flush those nasty toxins from your body. It also ensures you regulate a correct body temperature, meaning you may have a more comfortable nights sleep.
- Talk to someone if something is on your mind. They may help to alleviate your stresses or worries and help you to feel more in control.
Nothings working, help!
Unfortunately there isn’t a quick solution to beating insomnia. It will take a couple of weeks of implementing the above suggestions before you start see the rewards. Persevere and remember not to stress about it too much. Focus on making the improvements and you will hopefully see a change.
For further help, please read our guide on how to get a better nights sleep.