What is Insomnia?
The dictionary defines insomnia as the inability to sleep and habitual sleeplessness. It’s common for individuals to have difficulty falling asleep at night; an estimated 3 million people have this condition. For most people, insomnia is a result of anxiety, little to no exercise, depression, bad sleep habits, a more serious illness, or specific medications. Google suggests that insomnia is usually self-diagnosable because the symptoms are easy to spot. A first symptom is feeling excessively tired in the morning. Another symptom is having a very difficult time falling asleep. A person may also experience problems focusing on tasks during the day, doing tasks very slowly, feeling irritable, and headaches.
Different Types of Insomnia
- There are a few different types of insomnia. For example, one type is acute insomnia. Acute insomnia is a brief and short difficulty when trying to fall asleep. It is usually caused by a stressful life change, such as a challenging new job, traveling, or getting bad news from a loved one or friend. Typically, acute insomnia is solved without treatment involved.
- There is also a more major type of insomnia – chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is only when a person’s insomnia persists for at least 3 nights a week during a 3 month period.
- A third type of insomnia is comorbid insomnia. This is defined as insomnia that is occurring with another problem or condition. Conditions like anxiety and depression can cause sleep issues. Certain medical issues might make it more uncomfortable to sleep, like back pain or arthritis.
- Another type is onset insomnia, which is defined as when a person has difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night.
- Maintenance insomnia is having issues staying asleep.
WebMD offers up options to stop insomnia from affecting people. It could be helpful to make a few lifestyle or behavioral changes. Things like relaxation methods can help people fall asleep faster. Some options can be meditation, using guided imagery, doing breathing exercises, or doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Using Guided Imagery
Using guided imagery is a popular method that can be used to calm down and relax. Guided imagery can help the individual feel like he or she is is a peaceful setting when really, she’s just imagining it. This can help because of the connection between the body and the mind. The person will involve all of her senses when doing guided imagery. There are certain steps the person will have to take to do guided imagery. The person must close her eyes and find a place to lie down. Then, it’s recommended that the person start taking deep breaths to calm down. Next, the person should picture herself in a setting that’s both peaceful and calm. The individual might then want to add some detail after that and think about what she would feel in this setting. For example, if the person is imaging herself on a beach, she might think about how the breeze feels on her skin and how the sand feels underneath their toes. It is said that it helps to add a path to the scene. If the individual is imagining a meadow or valley, she could think about a path that will lead to the other side of the meadow. When the person is immersed into this scene, she should then should take a few more deep breaths. Lastly, the person should think of a simple word that will help her return to this place in the future. Lastly, she should slowly bring themselves back to the present.
Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation is another method used to help relax people. When a person is stressed or anxious, the body could respond with muscle tension. Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation is one way to relieve a person of this muscle tension. To do this, the person would tense a few muscles while breathing in and then relax them as they breathe out. She should work on relaxing their muscles in a specific order. This works because, when the body is relaxed, it’s harder for a person to feel stressed or anxious. It may be useful to learn the different muscle groups before doing exercises like this.
Lifestyle changes can also be made to help treat insomnia. Lifestyle changes are defined as easy things a person can change in her life that may improve how she sleeps. For example, some aspects to change could be being more active and watching what is being consumed. It is also helpful to set a regular bedtime to follow seven days a week. This will help the body get into the habit of falling asleep by a certain time. Also, try to avoid napping during the day.
For short-term problems falling asleep, a doctor may prescribe a person sleeping pills. Lifestyle changes will help for long-term sleeping issues. It is not typical for a doctor to treat chronic insomnia with sleeping pills. This is because becoming dependent on any form of pills, medication, or drugs is potentially harmful to the body. There are many different sleeping pills a doctor could possibly prescribe to a patient. However, people should only take sleeping pills with a doctor’s prescription.
There are also many home treatments to try. It might help to limit or avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol late in the day and during the night. Trying not to watch TV or use her phone as a she tries to fall asleep can also help improve sleeping quality. Create a bedtime routine to follow each night before bed. This will get the body in the habit of settling down at a certain time. The room should be dark, quiet, and cool as the person tries to sleep. If the individual takes any medications, it might be a smart move to to ask a doctor if any of the medications are affecting the quality of her sleep.
If the person still cannot sleep, she could try getting out of bed and doing a relaxing task before trying to sleep again. This will help her brain not make a connection between bed and not being able to fall asleep.