Missing out on sleep is a big problem in modern society. Although the optimum amount of sleep is 8 hours per night, most of us don’t reach this target and spend our days slightly more groggy, slow, and tired than we should be.
For some people, these problems are more serious, and end up impacting their lives in many ways. Insomnia affects around 30% of all people, and comes in varying degrees of severity.
The effects of missing out on sleep are plentiful, and all negative. It can result in irritability, loss of focus, tiredness, and memory problems, to name but a few.
In some cases, sufferers of insomnia want nothing more than to sleep, but just can’t manage to switch off. This can be highly frustrating and demoralizing.
Long-term, the effects of not getting enough sleep can be an increased risk of illnesses like cancer and heart disease, and a shorter lifespan than we might like
Insomnia has a wide variety of causes, and some people will be more sensitive to it than others.
Anxiety and stress can be a major factor in many cases. Working a stressful job or having to deal with particularly demanding events in your life can trigger insomnia, as your mind is constantly on high-alert, even when trying to sleep.
Many medications also disrupt sleep, including some everyday chemicals like caffeine and alcohol. Drinking coffee late in the day, for example, can have a big impact on your sleep quality.
Eating a large meal close to bedtime can also upset sleeping patterns, and lots of stimulating activities and screen time during the late hours can have a similar effect.
With so many risk factors at play, insomnia might seem impossible to avoid. But don’t resign yourself to a life without sleep just yet - there are several forms of insomnia treatment available to tackle this problem once and for all.
Having a good environment is essential for a quality night of sleep. This means ensuring a dark, quiet room, with a temperature that isn’t too hot or too cold. Having a comfortable bed also makes a big difference.
To block out unwelcome light, try thicker blinds to eliminate all outside illuminations. If you live in a city and loud disturbances seem unavoidable, you could use a fan or noise
machine to cover up distractions with some soothing white noise. For those on a budget, a mask and earplugs can work just as well as the above.
You should avoid screens and clocks, along with any other electronic devices that emit light and provide tempting alternatives to sleep.
Before going to bed, you should make sure you’re doing nothing that will drive sleep away. Many people spend the hours before sleep playing on their phones, watching TV, using a computer, or working.
These are all highly stimulating activities, which wind the brain up into a frenzy and prevent you from getting in the mindset necessary for a good night’s sleep.
Instead, you could try reading a book, enjoying some peace and quiet, or listening to soft music. Drinking alcohol before bed is tempting as a way to usher in sleep, but it will result in you waking up more frequently and sleeping less deeply.
There are also several breathing exercises, meditation techniques, and yoga routines that have been shown to help bring on sleep, which may be worth becoming familiar with.
Sleeping pills and other such medications are sometimes recommended by doctors in extreme cases of insomnia, or as a short-term solution.
However, they come with a variety of side-effects such as tolerance and addiction, and over time if not used properly can make the problem worse. Always consult a doctor before taking this route.
Therapy has become more popular as a form of insomnia treatment, and has shown promise in treating the issue naturally.