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What to Do When You Can’t Fall Asleep

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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that regularly affects millions of people worldwide. individuals with insomnia find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. The effects can be devastating. Insomnia commonly leads to daytime sleepiness, lethargy, and a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically.

Who Suffers from Insomnia?

Some people are more likely to suffer from insomnia than others; these include travelers, shift workers with frequent changes in shifts (day vs. night), the elderly, drug users, adolescent or young adult students, pregnant women, menopausal women and those with mental health disorders.

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Types of Insomnia

Insomnia includes a wide range of sleeping disorders, from lack of sleep quality to lack of sleep quantity. Insomnia is commonly separated into three types:

1. Transient Insomnia– occurs when symptoms last up to three nights.

2. Acute Insomnia– also called short-term insomnia. Symptoms persist for several weeks.

3. Chronic Insomnia– this type lasts for months, and sometimes years.

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Causes of insomnia

1. Disruptions in Circadian Rhythm– jet lag, job shift changes, high altitudes, environmental noise, extreme heat or cold.

2. Psychological Issues– bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, or psychotic disorders.

3. Medical Conditions– chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, angina, acid-reflux disease , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, brain lesions, tumors, stroke.

4. Hormones– estrogen, hormone shifts during menstruation.

5. Other Factors– sleeping next to a snoring partner, parasites, genetic conditions, overactive mind, Pregnancy.

Treatment options for Insomnia

Good sleep hygiene, including avoiding electronics (TV, Mobile phones etc. before bed, can help treat insomnia. Some types of insomnia resolve when the underlying cause is treated or wears off. In general, insomnia treatment focuses on determining the cause. Once identified, this underlying cause can be properly treated or corrected.

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In addition to treating the underlying cause of insomnia, both medical and non-pharmacological (behavioural) treatments may be used as therapies. Non-pharmacological approaches and home remedies for insomnia include:

1. Improving “sleep hygiene”– not sleeping too much or too little, exercising daily, not forcing sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine at night, avoiding smoking, avoiding going to bed hungry, and ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment.

2. Using relaxation techniques– such as meditation and muscle relaxation.

3. Cognitive therapy– one-on-one counseling or group therapy.

4. Stimulus control therapy– only go to bed when sleepy. Avoid watching TV, reading, eating, or worrying in bed. Set an alarm for the same time every morning (even weekends) and avoid long daytime naps.

5. Sleep restriction– decrease the time spent in bed and partially deprive the body of sleep, this increases tiredness ready for the next night.

Medical treatments for insomnia include prescription sleeping pills, antidepressants, over-the-counter sleep aids, antihistamines and melatonin.

GRAND MOTHER’S TREATMENT

A glass of hot milk with 2 tsp of honey and a quarter tsp of cinnamon, one hour before sleeping. Sleep well!

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