When we think of insomnia, we often think of blurry-eyed college students, career-stressed professionals, and new parents. But there’s a difference between insomnia and a simple lack of sleep. All these examples reflect someone who is actively keeping themselves awake. Insomnia is more insidious than that. One out of every four Americans suffer from insomnia, a condition in which the subject is physically unable to sleep. More troubling is that these numbers appear to be rising. In the last several years, insomnia rates have jumped from 25% of adults to 37% and are beginning at a younger age. This rate is even higher in women who are more prone to insomnia due to hormonal fluctuations.
What’s causing this? Have people simply become more stressed out? Are screens and blue lights to blame? Experts are not sure of the exact cause of insomnia, however, we do make a distinction between “primary insomnia,” in which sleeplessness is the prime ailment, and “secondary insomnia,” when the condition presents as a side effect of another element, such as, medication. Fortunately, no matter the cause of your insomnia, there are steps you can take to stop counting sheep and start sleeping soundly. Alert your HealthLynked provider about your sleep issues and update your Review of Health at your next DocLynk appointment. Until then, these steps will offer you some relief.
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary of sleep. One of the reasons many people have trouble getting to sleep is because they’ve trained their brains to want to do everything except sleep when in their beds. Resist the urge. Your bedroom should be for two things and two things only: Sleep and sex. Don’t shop online, watch tv, study, or work in bed, no matter how tempting it might be—it’s all counterproductive if you want to sleep at night.
- Cut down on the caffeine. Caffeine is the most abused substance in the world. Though it’s generally considered safe, it is habit-forming. Caffeine is a stimulate that affects your central nervous system and causes you to feel more alert. This is great when trying to power through your workday, not so great when trying to refuel for the next day because it can remain in your system for up to twenty-four hours. Experiment with decreasing your intake to allow your body to return to normal.
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable. Too many people try to sleep with music or a tv blaring around them, restless pets, lights streaming in through their window. Humans are meant to sleep in darkness and silence. These are natural triggers that tell our brains when it’s time for sleep. Make sure your room is cool, dark, and free of distracting noises.
- Beware of naps. Naps are not an insomniac’s friend because they impede your sleep. If you absolutely must nap during the day, try to make sure it’s before 3 p.m. Also, nap at the same time every day for no more than twenty minutes.
- Be consistent. Sometimes your body has trouble knowing when it’s time to sleep because you don’t have an idea of when that is yourself. Make a concentrated effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends. Your body remembers, so teach it the best practices to keep you healthy.