Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by how you feel after sleeping—not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off. Even if you’re spending eight hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.
Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty falling asleep despite being tired
- Trouble getting back to sleep when waking up in the night
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep
- Not feeling refreshed after sleep
- Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
Causes of insomnia:
Stress, anxiety, and depression cause about half of all insomnia cases. But your daytime habits, bedtime routine, and physical health can also play a major role.
It’s important to identify all possible causes of your insomnia. Try using a sleep diary to record daily details about your daytime habits, sleep routine, and insomnia symptoms. For example, you can keep track of when you go to sleep and when you wake up, what you eat and drink, the medications you take, and any stressful events that occur during the day. Once you figure out the root cause of your insomnia, you’ll be able to tailor treatment accordingly.
Insomnia cures and treatments:
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation not only help quiet your mind and relieve body tension, but also help you fall asleep faster and get back to sleep more quickly if you wake up in the night.
Relaxation methods, you can follow these techniques:
- Abdominal breathing. Breathing deeply and fully, involving not only the chest, but also the belly, lower back, and ribcage, can help relaxation. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Make yourself comfortable. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10, and then relax. Continue to do this for every muscle group in your body, working your way up from your feet to the top of your head.
- Mindfulness meditation. Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing and on the way your body feels in the moment. Allow thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgment, always returning to focus on breath and your body.
Overcoming anxiety and stress
Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it difficult to fall asleep as night.
- Get out of bed when you can’t fall sleep. Don’t try to force yourself to sleep. Tossing and turning only amps up the anxiety. Leave the bedroom and do something relaxing, such as reading, drinking a cup of herbal tea, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music. When you’re sleepy, go back to bed.
- Talk over your worries during the day with a friend or loved one. Talking face to face with someone who cares about you is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety and stop you rehashing worries when it’s time to sleep. The person doesn’t need to be able to fix your problems, but just needs to be a good listener—someone who makes you feel heard and will listen without judging, criticizing, or continually being distracted.
Getting back to sleep if you wake up
While it’s normal to wake briefly during the night, if you’re having trouble falling back to sleep, the following tips may help.
- Stay out of your head. The key to getting back to sleep is continuing to cue your body for sleep. Hard as it may be, try not to stress over your inability to fall asleep again, because that only encourages your body to stay awake. A good way to stay out of your head is to focus on the feelings and sensations in your body or to practice breathing exercises. Take a breath in, then breathe out slowly .” Take another breath and repeat.
- Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. If you find it hard to fall back asleep, try a relaxation technique such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation, which can be done without even getting out of bed. Remind yourself that although they’re not a replacement for sleep, rest and relaxation still help rejuvenate your body.
- Do a quiet, non-stimulating activity. If you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet, non-stimulating activity, such as reading a book.
Make sleep a priority
Now, don’t roll your eyes. If you want a better night’s sleep, you have to get serious about it. Lack of sleep increases the risk for high blood pressure, depression and weight gain, the latter as a result of adverse effects on hormones that regulate appetite.
Say no to coffee after noon
Your morning mug gets a pass, but guzzling it all day is a big no-no. Here’s why: It’s often said that caffeine has a half-life of about five hours—which means if you eat an early enough dinner, that after-supper cappuccino should be out of your system by bedtime, right? Unfortunately, that’s not quite right. After seven hours, much of the stimulant will be gone from your system, depending on your sensitivity to it—but 25% of it could still be there. It can also increase nighttime urination and otherwise adversely impact your sleep.
Smell the roses
This can be done on its own or with aromatherapy oils. Just sprinkle four or five drops on a bathroom tissue and hold it to your nose, taking 10 to 15 deep breaths. If you’re upset about something, reach for some organic essential oils with high concentrations of lavender.Studies show it’s one of nature’s best sedatives. And if awake you’re stewing about work, anxious about money, or just plain feeling overwhelmed, try spikenard, vetiver, frankincense, myrrh and clary . These oils will slow you down to promote a heavier, more restorative sleep.
Try some easy yoga poses
A few low-key yoga moves can signal to your brain that slumber is coming. Try these yoga poses to help beat your insomnia.