You got into bed on time, but cannot sleep even after a few hours. Before you knew it, it was time to go to work and you haven’t slept a wink. Obviously, you were tired the entire day and could barely concentrate on whatever you were doing. The same thing happens the next night, and the next, and the next and so on. What is this? In one word; this is insomnia. It is perfectly normal for people to have a bout of insomnia from time to time, but if it becomes common, then it can be a major problem because it will take a toll on your mental and physical health as well as other aspects of your life.
The first step is to understand what causes insomnia. Let’s take a look:
- Anxiety or stress
- An uncomfortable sleeping environment or a change in it
- Taking medicines that have insomnia as a side effect
- Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or coffee
- Eating a heavy meal before going to bed
- Exercising before bedtime
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic medical illnesses like asthma or kidney disease
- Psychiatric issues such as PTSD or depression
- Painful conditions like neuropathy, arthritis or acid reflux
- Restless leg syndrome that causes twitching or cramping in the legs that wake you up or even obstructive sleep apnea that pauses your breathing
Once you know the causes of insomnia, you should be aware of its symptoms to identify it properly:
- Not be able to fall asleep
- Waking up during the night periodically
- Feeling up irritable and tired during the day
- Waking up earlier than needed and not feeling refreshed
- Difficulty in concentrating
The doctor is able to find out the cause of your insomnia by asking you questions about your sleep environment and habits and by reviewing your symptoms. You may also be asked to keep a sleep diary if a cause is not immediately evident from your answers. When the cause is clear, a proper treatment can be prescribed.
- Relaxation therapy includes special techniques that help in relaxing the muscles and quieting the mind.
- A program called sleep restriction may also be implemented, which will only permit you to sleep only a couple of hours initially and will then gradually increase your time as you begin to fall asleep quickly and without waking up.
- Reconditioning is another method widely used, which involves teaching you to only associate your bed with sexual activity and sleeping. This way, you will only go to bed when you are sleepy and avoid daytime naps. In addition, you will keep distractions like your smartphone and TV out of the bedroom.
- For the short term or for occasional use, doctors also prescribe medications such as Etizolam. You will find this particularly useful if you are also suffering from anxiety because this is an effective anti-anxiety remedy that calms you down and promotes healthy and quality sleep.