Everyone knows that sleep is an essential part of everyday life. When the day ends, the natural course of action is to wind down and finally go to bed. However, given the hectic schedules that most people have, it’s often difficult to go to sleep quickly or fall asleep at all. This sleep disorder is called insomnia.
The awful feeling that comes with the lack of sleep is because the body needs seven to eight hours worth of rest to repair itself and support various functions, such as its immunity or muscle repair. While some have no problem falling asleep as soon as they go to bed, others have a hard time learning how to get to sleep quickly due to insomnia. Here’s what you need to know about it:
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder best described as struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. If you’ve been wondering why you’ve had a hard time sleeping lately, especially if it’s been going on for several weeks, then it’s something worth looking into as it can negatively impact your health. Without getting enough sleep, you’ll feel sluggish at best and develop a wide range of illnesses such as heart disease at worst.
Those who have insomnia will find themselves restless at night, watching the clock tick, and generally fail to get enough quality sleep each time they go to bed. As a result, they often exhibit mood swings, fatigue, trouble focusing at school or work, low energy, and poor performance. To these people, learning how to go to sleep fast sounds like an impossible task.
What Causes Insomnia?
People with insomnia are well aware of how difficult it can be to fall asleep, which is why they resort to sleeping pills or relaxing sleep music to calm their minds and bodies. However, the best way to combat insomnia is to understand its many causes. Various factors contribute to insomnia, namely medical and psychiatric issues, poor sleep hygiene, some medications, and even biological problems.
Some medical conditions can make it harder to fall asleep quickly at night, like sinus or nasal allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, and arthritis. Restless leg syndrome is also known to disrupt sleep since it requires you to move your legs constantly to get comfortable.
On the other hand, depression can also make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The subsequent mood changes that occur with depression affect the body’s hormone production, worsening the condition. The same applies to anxiety, as the mind is filled with an endless loop of worries that preoccupies the individual, preventing them from falling asleep.
Lastly, your lifestyle choices can also affect the quality of sleep you get at night. If you bring your work home and work on your bed, you’ll have trouble relaxing enough to fall asleep. Regularly napping in the afternoon that reaches full sleep cycles can also compromise your sleep hygiene. This can disrupt your body’s natural sleep rhythm or circadian rhythm.
What Are the Symptoms?
It’s normal to have trouble sleeping once in a while, but you may have insomnia if it is a recurring experience. Here are other symptoms that indicate the sleep disorder:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up mid-sleep
- Low quality or unrefreshing sleep
- Poor performance at work or school
- Feeling tired or sleepy during the daytime
- Higher tendency to experience accidents
What Can You Do to Prevent Insomnia?
Luckily, there are many things you can do to beat insomnia and finally enjoy a whole night’s sleep. Here are five ways to get to the bottom of the problem:
1. Improve Your Sleep Environment and Hygiene
Your sleep environment and hygiene have a lot to do with the quality of your sleep. Consider installing blackout curtains to keep your room cool and dark. Purchasing a white noise machine can also block out external noises that keep you awake and alert.
Clean rooms with neutral palettes can also help your brain relax, as you won’t be preoccupied with the need to clear up clutter. Your mattress may also be responsible for your lack of sleep, so it’s worth considering swapping them out, especially if it’s been more than a decade since you purchased it.
You can also put on sleep meditation music before going to bed, followed by a glass of warm milk or your favourite calming tea. Anything that forces you to slow down and relax will help you fall asleep, and making this a routine will train your body to start winding down and loosening up when it’s bedtime.
2. Address the Underlying Medical Condition
If an underlying medical condition, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic pain, or asthma is responsible for your insomnia, consider treating that first. Secondary insomnia usually resolves itself once you treat the root of your illness. Doing this will also eliminate the worries you have about your health, which may play a part in your insomnia.
3. Avoid Stimulants Before Bedtime
What you consume before bed plays a significant role in getting a good night’s rest. Avoid drinking stimulants like coffee or caffeinated tea, as they’ll keep you awake for much longer. If you enjoy eating heavy meals for dinner, consider moving the mealtime to a much earlier hour to allow your body enough time to process it by bedtime. Otherwise, take lighter meals for dinner so your stomach won’t bother you while you’re trying to get comfortable in your bed.
4. Try Something Else When You Can’t Sleep
If you’re all tucked in bed, and you still can’t fall asleep, try doing something else. Whether it’s reading a book or listening to relaxing sleep music, you’ll start feeling more at ease, paving the way for a night of deep sleep. Whatever you decide to do, ensure that it isn’t stimulating, as you may end up staying awake for a few more hours.
5. Disconnect From Your Devices
Lastly, when it’s bedtime, be sure to put down your devices. Using them even while in bed will prevent you from falling asleep, as the blue light these screens emit will keep you awake. That’s because blue wavelengths have the most potent effect among the visible light spectrum, which means it automatically increases your alertness, which is something you don’t want when you’re trying to fall asleep right away. Try to put them away for at least 30 minutes before sleeping, and you’ll go to sleep faster.
Falling deeply asleep comes easily for some people, but for others, it seems like a distant dream. By understanding insomnia, its causes, and the many ways to combat it, you can say goodbye to sleepless nights and get the rest your body needs to keep you healthy and happy.
To learn more tips for better sleep, be sure to browse our guides at Sleep Science! We are a sleep expert and sleep companion whose goal is to improve how the world sleeps one night at a time by shedding light on the many factors that affect a good night’s rest. Learn more by reading our other articles today!