Insomnia isn’t a laughing matter and the millions of people who suffer from it can attest to it. Due to the difficulty in falling asleep or in staying asleep, the main effect is sleep deprivation – and that in itself has several ill effects. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of chronic degenerative diseases, mood disorders, and weight gain.
Many insomniacs, unfortunately, continue to suffer from their symptoms because of their mistaken belief in the fiction surrounding insomnia. This is a shame because insomnia can be effectively managed with lifestyle changes and without medications. Here are a few things that you may be falling victim to and, thus, worsening your symptoms.
#1 You’re Going Mental
Of course, insomnia can be caused by psychological issues with the foremost reason being emotional and mental stress. But psychological issues aren’t the only triggers for your sleepless nights, such as underlying medical conditions, chronic pain, and side effects from drugs. You and your doctor will discuss the underlying factors affecting your ability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep during the night before making decisions to resolve them.
#2 Your Nightcap Can Be Your Sleeping Pill
Many insomniacs drink alcohol before bed because it makes them fall asleep faster – and we can all agree that being drunk makes everybody hit the sack like a dead log. But here’s the thing about drinking a few cocktails as a nightcap: While alcohol moves through your bloodstream, you will either experience restless sleep or wake up earlier with a hangover. Either way, you’re feeding your insomnia for the next night.
#3 You Can Take Sleeping Pills Without Risks
While these medications are safer than their older counterparts, these aren’t risk-free because there will always be side effects and the risk of dependency. Such are the health risks that most, if not all, sleeping pills will only be dispensed by pharmacists upon the prescription of doctors!
There’s also the fact that these drugs aren’t the cure for insomnia – just a way to temporarily relieve its symptoms. Your best approach is resolving underlying health issues and making your sleep environment more conducive to restful sleep. You may, for example, have to change your lumpy mattress for a brand-new Comfortaire mattress to resolve your aching back.
#4 You Can Train Your Body to Need Less Sleep
With rare exceptions, every person is born with the need to sleep although the number of hours will vary as one ages. Babies, for example, sleep for most part of the day, children have to sleep 9-10 hours per night, and adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. But everybody needs sleep so much so that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious consequences including poor health and performance.
You can obviously learn ways to get by during the day on less sleep at night. But you will never be able to train your mind and body to need less sleep because it’s a primitive need. You must then seek professional help when you’re dealing with the fallout from insomnia, whatever type it may be.
#5 Your Screen and Read Time Habits Help in Winding Down
Sadly, reading a book, watching television, and logging on to the Internet aren’t the best ways to go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. These activities can, in fact, stimulate your mind and body so you don’t achieve your goal, even when you watch the most boring shows. The lights, sights and sounds coming the television and computer can decrease the levels of melatonin in your brain – and your body actually needs more of it to go to sleep!
Instead of these activities, you can listen to relaxing music with classical music being the best choice. You should also turn off the television and computer, dim the lights, and set a cool temperature.
#6 You Can Make Up for Chronic Sleep Deprivation
No, you can’t because your body will recognize and respond to chronic sleep deprivation. You may plan on sleeping in for the entire weekend to make up for your insomnia spells during the weekdays but it isn’t recommended. Your body’s natural circadian rhythm will only be disrupted resulting in a more difficult transition from wakefulness to sleep.
Even napping during the day will not do the trick no matter how advocates of power napping recommend it. Each individual responds to midday naps in a different way, too – where one person finds them reinvigorating, you may find that it reduces your body’s sleep drive. Your best course of action is to return into your regular sleep schedule.
When you have insomnia, you should ideally talk to your doctor about the safest and most effective methods for dealing with it. You shouldn’t self-medicate because it will only worsen your situation. You must instead adopt healthy lifestyle habits as part of a wholistic program so that insomnia doesn’t become your master and you its slave.