Definition of Insomnia
Insomnia is defined as the inability to sleep normally. Insomnia sufferers may feel very distressed, and even painful, when it is time for bed at night. There are 2 different types of insomnia, but it has the same symptoms. It is common to feel physically very tired, but mentally wide awake and very energetic. Oftentimes, the more a person struggles to fall asleep quickly, the more anxiety and annoyance is produced, thus making it even more difficult to quiet the mind.
Insomnia is a very common affliction. It has been estimated that at least three out of every ten people suffer from this condition. People suffering from insomnia often also have the problems (during waking hours)of inattention, memory loss, slow responses and so on, which can influence work and study.
Effects of Insomnia
A sleep association expert once surveyed a sampling of 30 students and divided them into those who were suffering from insomnia, and those who had normal sleep patterns. The 2 groups were then placed at stations designed to measure academic performance. Not surprisingly, the normal students had higher academic performance than the insomniacs.
In fact (and this also may come as no surprise, especially to insomniacs), people who suffer from insomnia often find it hard to focus, are easily distracted, and have memory loss issues. This causes learning content to be easily lost, and insomniacs almost invariably score lower in academic performance than students without insomnia.
In addition to learning difficulties, the same mental sluggishness and inability to concentrate can cause lack of efficiency, and can even be dangerous, at a person´s place of work.
Types, Causes, and Treatment of Insomnia
Types of Insomnia
In order to discuss treatment, it is helpful to learn to identify the different types of insomnia. Insomnia is divided into two kinds: short-term, and chronic. Short-term insomnia is defined as lasting anywhere from less than a month up to six months. If the problem lasts for more than six months, it is considered chronic.
One of the types of insomnia is short-term. Short-term insomnia is usually caused by external factors, such as when a person has just experienced a break-up (sadness), or plays some intense computer games before going to bed (excitement), or is affected by certain illnesses (discomfort).
The habit of chronic insomnia is usually developed over time due to lifestyle choices such as drinking coffee, drinking at bedtime, or attempting to supplement the need for sleep by taking naps during the day. These choices can cause a case of short-term insomnia to deteriorate into the chronic variety.
Targeted Treatment (How to Get Rid of Your Insomnia Quickly)
For short-term insomnia patients, I recommend a book named “Sleeping Revolution,” by Nick Littlehales, who is an expert in sleep associations and a professional sleep team director. His proposed R90 Sleep Program can effectively improve your sleep habits. I have followed the recommendations, according to the content of his book, for treatment, and the effect has been very dramatic.
For chronic insomnia patients, both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Institutes of Health recommend the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been shown to be as effective as drugs in relieving the symptoms of chronic insomnia in the short term, and may even have a much longer lasting effect. Although most of these studies are limited to people without mental disorders, they have indeed shown that CBT helps insomnia patients.
Cognitive behavioral therapy works by making the patient become more positive. General speaking, people who have any types of insomnia will attempt to deliberately force themselves to fall asleep. But this practice has been shown to be counterproductive, as the increased anxiety that is produced only makes the problem worse.
CBT clinicians help patients set their goals and allow them to reject their idea of “I cannot sleep”, thereby improving the likelihood of sleep, as the mental burden is reduced.
Measures to Improve Sleep in Daily Life
1) Develop Good Habits Before Going to Bed
If you cannot sleep, it´s best to get up and do something. It is harder to fall asleep if we stay in bed and think about falling asleep. When we stay in bed, the brain will tend associate insomnia with bedtime. Also, refrain from using a mobile phone, or have anything near you that emits even the smallest, pale blue light. Even the weakest of light in the sleeping space will be excitatory and inhibit sleep.
Do not drink too much water before going to bed, as the production of urine and a full bladder may require frequent trips to the bathroom. Also, avoid caffeinated drinks which will affect your mental state. Taking a hot bath before going to bed, or putting on loose pajamas can also help get you ready to fall asleep.
2) Manage Your Stress and Anxiety
Many people suffer from insomnia at night due to work-related stress. Continual stress, and insomnia that it causes, can both have a negative effect on the human immune system, and therefore lead to serious illness.
Physical exercise is an excellent way to decompress and leave work stress behind. We recommend after dinner to do a sweat exercise, then later wash and take a hot bath before going to bed. This should help to relieve the pressures of the workday and make falling asleep easier.
Recommended exercises are: yoga, running, swimming, and other more gentle exercises. We do not recommend doing intense sports at night, such as football, basketball, etc., since intense exercise can lead to faster blood circulation and put you in a more excited state, which will make it harder to fall asleep.
In addition, listening to some light music, such as saxophone, piano, etc., can also help to ease your stress. I especially like to listen to Kenny G’s saxophone music to relieve stress, and the effect is very good.
3) Develop A Healthy Biological Block
Many of us are night owls who often stay up late at night until 1-2 am and therefore find it difficult to get up in the morning. Also, people who stay up late are often using the cell phone or the computer at night, and the light directly inhibits the production of melatonin, which directly affects sleep quality. As a result, people who often stay up late are more prone to insomnia. Then they are likely to sleep even later in the mornings, thus resulting in even more insomnia at night.
This phenomenon is known as delayed sleep period syndrome (DSPS). According to statistics, as many as 15% of both adolescents and adults have this issue. DSPS is a circadian rhythm disorder that is related to the inability to fall asleep at night (usually requiring a few hours to fall asleep), and inability to wake up on time in the morning. People with long-term DSPS symptoms have increased psychological stress, and nearly half of DSPS sufferers also experience depression and even obesity.
How to Solve the Problem of Circadian Clock Disorder- Expert Advice:
- Consult a doctor. If insomnia seriously affects your work or study, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will be able to rule out any underlying medical issues you may have, as well as help you adjust sleep time.
- Try to avoid dozing off during the day. Sleeping during the day will affect the quality of sleep at night, even if you are very tired when retiring for the night.
- Do not stay in bed when you wake up. Every day keep up the same time to get up, so as to help adjust your biological clock.
- As far as possible, avoid bright light at night. White light usually contains blue light, which inhibits the body’s production of melatonin. Yellow light (warm light)is more conducive to sleep. In general, devices with white light are mobile phones, computers, TVs, incandescent lamps, etc. There have been many studies to suggest that you should not use mobile phones before going to bed, as this can lead to a high level of excitement.
- Do not to eat food or do intense exercise before going to bed. Eating before going to bed will increase the burden on the stomach, and intense exercise will lead to increased circulation and increased adrenal hormones, both of which are excitatory, and can make it more difficult to sleep.
Say Hello to A Regular Lifestyle, and Say Goodbye to Insomnia
It is not difficult to demonstrate that most cases of both types of insomnia are due to bad habits in daily life, like staying up all night, or stress, or supper before going to bed, and so on. Try to get rid of these habits, and develop a good biological clock instead, then you can say goodbye to both types of insomnia.