14 Tips to Beat Insomnia
This article addresses the longer term issues associated with insomnia. Also see my article How to Sleep Better for tips on sleeping better tonight.
Frequent insomnia can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Over-the-counter sleep aids or pain relievers can mask serious conditions and may be unhealthy in themselves. If you often sleep poorly, have a checkup by your doctor. This article is not medical advice and is not intended for anyone not in good health.
There are a variety of physical and emotional causes of insomnia. Here are 14 tips to address these critical issues.
1. Establish habits and daily patterns that support better sleep. Set a regular bedtime and allow eight hours before you have to wake up. Reserve the two hours before bedtime for quiet activities that are not stressful, upsetting, or stimulating. Avoid television, conversation, and exciting reading during those hours.
2. Break the cycle of “learned insomnia,” in which a pattern of worrying about not sleeping, fear of nightmares, or avoiding going to bed leads to insomnia, which in turn leads to yet more worry about sleeping and further avoidance of going to bed. To help break the “learned insomnia” cycle, don’t use your bedroom to watch television, to read, to eat, or as an office. Also reduce stress and relax using techniques like conscious breathing and guided meditation.
3. Exercise every day. Walking is a particularly good choice for exercise, especially walking in a natural setting. Exercise early in the day, and avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime.
4. Adopt a regular daily practice of Yoga, Qigong, or conscious breathing.
5. Try listening to a guided meditation CD either before going to bed or at bedtime. The guided meditation might be specifically designed to encourage sleep, or might be a general relaxation guided meditation.
6. Aromatherapy oils or an aromatherapy burner (diffuser) may help you to fall asleep faster and sleep better.
7. Harsh noises are very disruptive to sleep. Try to make your room as quiet as possible, and consider using earplugs. Alternatively, try using a recording of natural sounds, such as bird or ocean sounds, or use a white noise generator.
8. Total darkness is important to restful sleep. Invest in a sleep mask (eyeshade) if you can’t make your bedroom dark enough.
9. An overly dry room can make breathing more difficult and interfere with sleep. If your bedroom is too dry, get a humidifier for your house or for the bedroom.
10. Make sure your bedroom is warm enough, but not too warm, and is well ventilated. If your feet are cold, take a hot water bottle to bed or wear loose-fitting socks at night.
11. Choose a pillow that matches your sleeping position. Use a thin pillow for stomach or back sleeping, or a medium pillow for side sleeping. Get a high quality pillow – a memory-foam pillow may be an important investment in better sleeping. Try both the traditionally-shaped and the wedge-shaped memory-foam pillows to see which suits your sleeping pattern better.
12. Try using a second pillow as a leg pillow. Lie on your right side with your left leg resting on the leg pillow. An extra-long pillow may work best for this.
13. Sleep on a comfortable mattress. A lumpy old mattress is not going to support restful sleep. Invest in a quality mattress if you don’t already have one. The choice of a mattress is very personal. Some people sleep best with quite soft mattresses, others with a very firm mattress. If you find your current mattress and pillow uncomfortable, experiment with a wide range of alternatives before you make a purchase decision. Consider investing in a memory-foam mattress. For me, switching to a Tempur-Pedic mattress and pillow virtually eliminated pain in my back, neck, and hip. If you can’t afford a Tempur-Pedic or other memory foam mattress, consider a more affordable memory foam mattress-topper combined with a memory foam pillow.
14. Some people swear by adjustable position beds or adjustable firmness mattresses. Give them a try, but don’t get sold by sales claims if you don’t find they make a difference in your personal sleeping comfort.
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Last updated on November 21, 2020 By // by healYOUnaturally 24 Comments
Do you want to get rid of insomnia?
Do you feel extremely exhausted where the days seem so long and anxiety has started to set in?
Are you reading this late at night just because you can’t sleep?
Or you’ve been desperately looking for answers on why you can’t fall or stay asleep all night?
If so, you are not alone…
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has declared that today is Insomnia Awareness Day. Each night millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. For some this is only a brief problem. But for others, insomnia can become a severe, ongoing struggle.
How common is insomnia among adults? Here are the numbers:
• 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia.
• 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months.
• 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months. (source)
You have tried sleeping pills, new pillows, mattresses, white noise, soothing sounds you name it– to no avail.
I know it can be frustrating but that is the least of your concerns. Lack of sleep has been linked to several diseases like depression, cardiovascular disease,Type II diabetes, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, digestion issues, and the list goes on. Worry some right? It’s ok! I know that’s why you are here, and I am going to finally help you find ways to fall and stay asleep once and for all.
First, let’s dive into the reasons behind insomnia and what this monster is all about…
Let’s Learn About The Possible Reasons for Insomnia
Insomnia in its initial stages is not a chronic condition. Chronic insomnia conditions are serious when patients have been known not to sleep for days altogether. This will naturally need an experienced sleep disorder professional help in order to cure the underlying cause for insomnia.
Did you know that insomnia or sleeplessness is one of the most common sleep disorders found in living beings? Even birds and animals suffer from insomnia.
There are many factors that may contribute to those “White nights” when you just cannot drop off into those really necessary forty winks. That is when you spend your time watching the ceiling, overthinking, nibbling something or reading a book.
Heck, you even end up browsing the Internet for natural insomnia cures. I’m sure you’ve tried dozens of things to get rid of insomnia– to no avail…
Just remember that you need to sleep as much as you need to breathe and eat. While you’re sleeping, your body is busy tending to your physical and mental health and getting you ready for another day. In children and adolescents, hormones that promote growth are released during sleep. These hormones help build muscle mass, as well as make repairs to cells and tissues. Sleep is vital to development during puberty.
When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain can’t function properly, affecting your cognitive abilities and emotional state. If it continues long enough, it can lower your body’s defenses, putting you at risk of developing chronic illness. The more obvious signs of sleep deprivation are excessive sleepiness, yawning, and irritability.
Chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with balance, coordination, and decision-making abilities. You’re at risk falling asleep during the day, even if you fight it. Stimulants like caffeine are not able to override your body’s profound need for sleep. (source)
Insomnia can be caused due to stress and strain. Professional, personal, emotional, physical and mental worries can contribute to you undergoing a sleepless night. Such an occurrence happening once in a blue moon should not be a cause of worry. However, if you find you get much less than your eight hours recommended normal quota of sleep every night for more than five days running, it is time to see a doctor.
A change in lifestyle can also prevent you from sleeping.
Did you go to bed too soon after a heavy meal? Are your surroundings noisy? Is your bed lumpy and your mattress too soft or too hard? These are just some of the reasons why you may not find it easy to drop off to sleep the moment you get into your bed. You should be asleep within 7 to 10 minutes in a normal sleep routine cycle.
Understanding Why and How Insomnia Develops
In his article about One of the Most Common Causes of Insomnia, Dr. Mercola talks about a particular condition, which confirms what I have been discussing throughout the article. Let your mind rest and try to control those “unwanted thoughts”. But how do I do that you ask? Here is an excerpt from his article that I found quite interesting:
Sleep is as important as other things to live like food and air. It is worth mentioning that without sleep your body cannot function properly. Our body needs proper eight hours of sleep to work with energy, vigor, and vitality. Throughout the night changing your sleeping position can be very frustrating. Sleeplessness should not be neglected. Intake of Essential CBD Oil can help to some extent. You can add a few drops of CBD Oil in the food of the sleep-deprived person.
For the best treatment of this problem you need to identify what problem is, sleep Anxiety and Insomnia are two different things. Sleep anxiety happens due to anxiety as is in the name. Due to some problems or worries, we are not able to sleep properly and our mind only thinks about the problem, it only thinks of it. When this happens with you it is sleep anxiety. During anxiety, there is an excess release of adrenaline in the body which affects the body.
The heart rate fluctuates, you suffer breathing shortness and you are not able to concentrate on any work. In such a state, a person feels exhausted and tired. The person may wish to sleep and relax but no sleep comes in the eyes. Sleep anxiety does not mean that the person gets no sleep, the person gets to sleep but sleep does not last long. Insomnia does not involve any reason, your body is set such as that you don’t feel sleepy. Insomnia is a long term disease. When you don’t get sleep for days or weeks.
A person can have both sleep Anxiety and Insomnia at the same time. In anxiety, a person’s mind does not distract from worry. Whereas Insomnia could have an adverse effect on health. It can result in increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and it can also make your body vulnerable to asthma attacks. Insomnia also affects the mental health of the person. People feel depressed, they become unstable in handling emotions and they get irritated mood.
You should take therapy to get rid of Anxiety but you need to consult a therapist for that. Therapy brings positive thoughts to the person with anxiety. We will see here ways in which we can combat Anxiety and Insomnia. However in the case of insomnia meeting, a doctor is the most preferred solution but at the initial stage of Insomnia, you can try out some tactics for better sleep. When you get to bed to sleep and turn off lights. You are not able to sleep and you just toss from one place to another on the bed.
Instead of doing this to get sleep, you should turn on lights and engage yourself in some work. When the thought of sleep goes from the mind. You will get tired of working and naturally get sleep. You should fix your time of sleeping and wake up. This helps in setting your body clock. The body can be trained to behave in a certain way. When its lunchtime you feel hungry because you have lunch at the same time daily.
If you sleep at the same time daily you will get sleep at that time. Your bedroom should be properly ventilated and the colors of the walls should not be too dark. The perfect mood of sleep comes in the perfect bedroom. You should limit the intake of caffeine. Coffee and tea are for taking your sleep away and excess intake of them can promote your anxiety and sleeplessness. You should not take much caffeine for good sleep.
Having trouble catching your zzz’s? Try these strategies to finally get some shut-eye.
This writer is part of Health.com’s contributor network. Learn more about the contributor network and how to join.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably read many, manyarticleson how to get a better night’s sleep, and know the classic tips by heart:Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.Turn off all screens an hour or two before bed.Wake up at the same time every morning. These are good suggestions, and I’m sure they work for many people—but as someone who has struggled with anxiety-related insomnia since age 15, they’re often not enough.Over the years, I’ve collected several unconventional strategies that have helped me through my sleepless nights. Here, six tried-and-true ways I quiet my racing mind.
Write out your worries
The number-one thing that keeps me awake at night? My own thoughts.Sometimes they’re anxious thoughts, sometimes they’re negative thoughts, and other times it’s a rapid stream of consciousness that I can’t turn off.When this happens, I force myself to write down every single thing I’m thinking in a physical notebook. Not a computer or phone, but old-fashioned pen and paper.I simply write down any thoughts that come to mind, especially the negative ones. As soon as I put just one to paper, they all seem to come pouring out of me. Don’t hold back; no one has to see what you’re writing.But the result is like draining grease out of a pan. I often marvel at how this simple, five-minute exercise makes me feel instantly sleepy, as if I spent the day taking care of all my problems while running a marathon. I feel lighter, and once I’m in bed, my mind is gloriously quiet.
Put them in a box
If I’m feeling particularly anxious, I go through the extra step of writing down my thoughts and then physically placing the paper into a little box, jar, or container before I go to bed. This might sound silly, but I find that literally putting away my worries at night tricks my brain into settling down. The process reminds me that those problems are for tomorrow morning, and I can take them out and deal with them then.
Force yourself to get out of bed
Many sleep experts will tell you to get up when you can’t sleep, and I think there’s some truth to this.In my experience, lying awake at night for a long time causes my brain to associate my bed with not sleeping, creating even more anxiety. When I can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying in bed, I get up, walk around the house, and do an activity that doesn’t require much brain power. My go-to: coloring in adult coloring books with gel pens. It’s soothing, mindless, and better than lying awake feeling anxious and frustrated.
Try to stay awake
Stay with me here: You know how actively trying to fall asleep can sometimes make falling asleep more difficult? It’s like your brain is determined to do the exact opposite of what you want it to do. When this happens to me, I try to use reverse-psychology on myself by thinking, Stay awake! I open my eyes and think about something interesting or exciting, and tell myself not to fall asleep. And before you know it, I’m out. It might sound strange, but I’m not about to argue with the results.
No, I don’t mean hanging from the ceiling like a bat. During periods of severe, ongoing insomnia, I’ve saved myself by simply putting my pillow at the foot of the bed and sleeping in reverse. Sometimes a small change in perspective is all you need to break that bad association between your bed and not being able to fall asleep.
There’s a strong relationship between anxiety and insomnia; so much so, Asnis, Caneva, & Henderson (2012) point out, that sleep difficulties are listed as one of the potential criteria for generalized anxiety disorder in the American Psychological Association’s (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Anxiety can cause insomnia, but insomnia can also cause anxiety. Each one fluffs up the other while you fluff your pillow in a frustrated attempt to get to sleep.
How Does Anxiety Cause Insomnia?
Anxiety’s racing thoughts get in the way of a good night’s sleep. The brain is like the rest of our body and uses energy (Thomas, n.d.). Racing thoughts are for the brain what running is to the body (especially one that is not used to running). Racing thoughts physically tire us out, increasing our need for quality sleep. However, these racing thoughts continue into the night and prevent the sleep we need to get rid of anxiety.
We have few things to distract us from anxiety and racing thoughts in the middle of the night. With distractions such as work, family, chores, and more asleep for the night, anxiety has free reign to play. And play it does. It frolics through our thoughts, emotions, and physical bodies. We are awake the entire time. When we can’t sleep, anxiety takes over. When we’re anxious, we can’t sleep.
Anxiety can have a negative impact on its own, as can insomnia. Together, they are a perfect storm that negatively affects our daytime lives and potentially lowers the quality of our relationships and life in general. You don’t have to take this lying down, figuratively speaking. You don’t have to let anxiety keep you awake or insomnia make you anxious.
How to Treat Anxiety and Insomnia
Self-awareness is an important first step in breaking the cycle of anxiety and insomnia. What factors, other than insomnia, increase your anxiety? What things, other than anxiety, contribute to insomnia? Among the common contributors to both are
- alcohol use, even in small amounts,
- medical conditions,
- excessive stress and/or tension,
- other existing mental health conditions (such as depression), and
- medications (prescription and over-the-counter).
When you are aware of how you are living, you can take measures to change situations around anxiety and insomnia by eliminating things that contribute to your own difficulties. Healthy living leads to better sleep and less anxiety.
Ansis, et al (2012), advise that anxiety and insomnia be treated at the same time but separately, each receiving targeted treatment approaches. Treating insomnia separately will allow you to get better sleep so you can deal with anxiety. The following approaches work well for ending insomnia:
- good sleep hygiene, which means cutting out daytime naps, late-night snacks, exercising too late in the evening, watching TV using other screen devices in bed, and sleeping in a room that is too light and/or noisy;
- daytime exercise;
- yoga and yoga meditation;
- medication; and
- cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) (Asnis, et al, 2012). CBT for insomnia is a structured, time-limited program that addresses the anxious, negative, and distorted thoughts that interrupt sleep. The racing thoughts of anxiety are present day and night. By addressing them, you aren’t letting anxiety keep you awake.
Don’t Let Anxiety Keep You Awake: Reduce Nighttime Anxiety
While you are working to end insomnia, you can also work to reduce the anxiety that is keeping you up at night. Some of the techniques for reducing anxiety to induce sleep:
- meditations for anxiety,
- avoid eating heavy foods, especially those with simple sugars, before bed,
- use relaxation techniques,
- drink warm milk (because it creates melatonin),
- avoid caffeine,
- visualize a peaceful scene,
- write down your worries so you can let them go until morning,
- while lying in bed, do some gentle stretches to release tension,
- use aromatherapy in the form of sprays or oils to infuse your sleeping area with calming scents,
- detangle yourself from your anxious thoughts, letting them go rather than becoming trapped by fighting with them, and
- enjoy the moment—if you truly can’t sleep, simply lie comfortably, practice deep breathing, and relax. Focus on how pleasant it is to rest and that it’s okay to just rest.
By doing things to reduce anxiety while simultaneously addressing and helping insomnia, you come ever closer to breaking up the relationship between anxiety and insomnia. Take the necessary steps, and you don’t have to let anxiety keep you awake at night.
No matter how tired you are, sleep anxiety can prevent you from falling asleep and getting the valuable shut-eye you need to be happy and full of beans in the morning.
The more your mind races the more restless and agitated you feel, as the monkey mind spins thought trail after trail of random worries, predictions, fears and contemplations about all manner of things.
Before long, you inherit the added worry of worrying how late it’s getting and how tired you’ll feel in the morning.
It’s annoying, frustrating and makes you feel groggy the next day.
Not only do you end up physically exhausted the following day, but also mentally out of steam having wasted your resources on those unnecessary but uncontrollable nighttime demons in your head.
But worry not, because a natural solution is at hand…
We already know that using the breath to still the mind is a common practice in meditation, but few people know that it’s also used medically to calm a person having an anxiety attack.
I was actually told this by a guy who had been rushed to hospital once while having an attack. He said the nurse who treated him used this technique to bring his heart rate down and enable him to catch regain control.
The technique is to breath in deeply and hold for a count of 6, and then breath out again, slowly.
The NHS (National Health Service) in the UK actually recommends the following:
- Fill up the whole of your lungs with air, without forcing. Imagine you’re filling up a bottle, so that your lungs fill from the bottom.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in slowly and regularly counting from one to five (don’t worry if you can’t reach five at first).
- Then let the breath escape slowly, counting from one to five.
- Keep doing this until you feel calm. Breathe without pausing or holding your breath. (Source: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/ways-relieve-stress.aspx)
So that’s 5 and not 6, but very similar to what I was taught.
Breathing in this way instantly begins to slow everything down and relax the mind and body in synchronisation.
And so a few years ago I began using this simple technique when my mind wouldn’t stop racing in bed at night.
Instead of getting caught in that cycle of tossing and turning, I would simply lay on my back and deep breathe in this way until I woke up having no recollection of when I’d dropped off.
Of course, the duration which it takes to fall asleep varies depending on how anxious/worried you are about the day ahead or whatever problems you may be dealing with at the time, but this really does work and goes to show again just how powerful the breath is.
And it’s no surprise really, considering it is our life force, the supporting mechanism that keeps us finely straddled between life and death.
So try it…slowly breathe in and hold for 5 or 6 seconds, and then release slowly until your lungs are deflated. Focus intently on what you are doing. Feel the breath come in and out of your body and channel your focus on that action.
What you’ll quickly feel is that it actually takes quite some effort and concentration to do, especially because your body is already tired – it’s just your mind that won’t settle – and I think this is why it is so effective.
To really focus on breathing in this way takes your mind off the swirling thoughts and channels your energy into the breathing action, which helps the tiredness overcome the anxiety and ultimately helps you fall asleep.
This isn’t just useful for bouts of sleep anxiety but for anytime when you need to calm down and recenter quickly.
One last little tip. If this doesn’t help first time, or you are still awake after 15 minutes of trying, get out of bed and go into another room for 10 minutes. The reason for this is that leaving the environment you feel uncomfortable in breaks the association; you essentially release yourself and take yourself out of the situation.
Go into the living room or kitchen. Sit quietly, and if you have to put a light on make it a dim one. Do some light stretching exercises or yoga poses, or read a few pages of a light-hearted book or magazine.
When you feel calm, return to your bed and begin your breathing again.
Anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is true both for people with anxiety disorders, and for anyone who is under a large amount of stress.
A 2017 survey found that 45% of Americans reported being kept awake by stress within the past month. At the same time, sleep deprivation can make feelings of anxiety worse.
Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between sleep and anxiety, and how to get better sleep when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
How to sleep with anxiety
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep.
Not sleeping enough can make anxiety worse, research has found. “There is a pretty strong correlation between sleep troubles and anxiety,” says Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist.
However, there are ways to get a good night’s sleep even if you are dealing with anxiety, Mendez says. Here’s how:
- Practice good sleep hygiene. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day. You can also have a bedtime routine that includes calming activities, like taking a bath or reading a book. Avoid screens, since research has found that people who use screens select a later bedtime, and feel more drowsy in the morning. Don’t do any stressful activities, like managing your finances, in the hour before bed. “If you’re thinking about it close to bedtime, there’s a stressor,” Mendez says.
- Exercise. Getting any sort of physical activity during the day can help you sleep better at night. A 2017 scientific review found that exercise “increased sleep efficiency and duration regardless of the mode and intensity of activity.”
- Try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness — being aware of what is happening to and around you right now — is helpful, particularly when anxiety hits at bed time or during the middle of the night. “Being aware that you’re spinning in worries, fears, or stress can then manage those thoughts,” Mendez says. Research has found that mindfulness meditation can help older adults who have trouble sleeping. If you wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety, but aren’t used to meditating, Mendez recommends a guided meditation.
- Consider taking melatonin.Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that begins rising about two hours before bed and causes a feeling of sleepiness. Although there isn’t yet conclusive evidence, some research has indicated that taking a melatonin supplement can help with insomnia. Melatonin has also been found to help with the anxiety before a surgical procedure. Mendez recommends talking to your doctor before starting melatonin, but says, “It can be very helpful to break that cycle of negative anticipation” over lack of sleep.
- Know when to get up. Sometimes, sleep troubles can build anxiety because you know you should be asleep. If you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed. “It’s better to not fight it,” Mendez says. “Get up and do something soothing, allowing your brain to calm.” Follow the same guidelines for the hour before bed, avoiding screens or other stimuli and opting for quiet, calm activities like reading or drawing.
Anxiety, stress, and insomnia are closely related
When it comes to anxiety and sleep, there’s a bit of chicken and egg situation: it’s hard to know which problem came first.
However, research has found that insomnia and stress are closely related. Studies have shown that stress causes lack of sleep, and that lack of sleep, in turn, “activates many stress-related pathways” in the brain.
Because of this, treating one condition can help with the other. According to Mendez, getting enough sleep is part of an overall care plan for managing anxiety, with or without a formal diagnosis. On the other hand, for people with anxiety disorders, treatment with medication and therapy can help address sleep issues.
“If you’ve tried all these practical, non-invasive strategies, there is no crime in seeking out medical help,” Mendez says.
Make Changes to Improve Difficulty Falling or Staying Asleep
Sanja Jelic, MD, is board-certified in sleep medicine, critical care medicine, pulmonary disease, and internal medicine.
Doctors often speak of prognosis in relation to medical problems, and people with difficulty falling or staying asleep may question: Does insomnia ever go away? Though this may largely depend on the underlying causes, by better understanding the potential triggers you may be able to answer this question for yourself. Discover how to stop insomnia and reverse poor sleep with simple changes.
Natural Remedies to Beat Insomnia
Considering the Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleep that is not refreshing in the absence of another sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Our understanding of the cause of the condition relies on three factors: predisposition, provocation, and perpetuation. Considering each of these factors, in turn, can be helpful to determine if insomnia will resolve.
Everyone has the potential to develop the difficulty sleeping that characterizes insomnia. This is referred to as a predisposition or threshold. For some people, the threshold is high and they rarely experience insomnia. For others, unfortunately, a lowered threshold may easily tip a person into trouble sleeping with even minor provocation.
Provoking factors are diverse and variable. Consider what has previously caused you to have trouble sleeping: an uncomfortable bed, a warm room, a noisy street, a crying baby, stress, and the list goes on. Although the triggers are familiar, something that leads to insomnia for you may have little effect on your spouse, and vice versa. Typically when the cause is removed, insomnia abates. However, it can also become perpetuated by changes you make and become chronic insomnia.
People with insomnia often make changes that they hope will improve their situation. For example, an earlier bedtime may be arranged to try to get enough sleep. This may backfire when it is suddenly much more difficult to fall asleep at the earlier hour. These changes, many of which are behavioral or may relate to thoughts and emotions, are called perpetuating factors.
Can Insomnia Be Stopped or Reversed with Treatments?
Now that you have a better understanding of the underlying causes of insomnia, it is possible to consider whether insomnia goes away. The underlying threshold that you have to develop insomnia does not change. Therefore, given the right scenario, insomnia may persist or recur. Imagine it as a large rock that is present just under the surface of a lake: when the water level drops enough, the rock shows itself again. In the same way, insomnia may come back to the surface. The factors that create this predisposition cannot be changed and are likely genetically determined and relate to neurotransmitters within the brain.
The good news is that the precipitating factors or triggers may be a place to intervene. Many of these triggers will resolve on their own. For example, a bad night of sleep before a test will go away as soon as the test passes. Many others can be alleviated once they are properly identified. In fact, cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) is a highly effective treatment for insomnia that manages to do just that.
A specially trained psychologist typically conducts CBTI by identifying triggers for your insomnia and then helping to defuse these causes. If you cannot fall asleep because you moved your bedtime early, sleep restriction may be the recommendation. If you lie awake at night and cannot get to sleep, stimulus control is helpful. If your mind races when you lie down, you may benefit from observing a buffer zone before bedtime or scheduling worry time during the day.
Medications are frequently used to treat insomnia, but many people wish to avoid sleeping pills because of the risk of side effects. In particular, sleeping pills may cause something called tachyphylaxis: the medications become less effective, higher doses are needed for the same effect, ultimately they stop working, and when discontinued rebound insomnia occurs. (Fortunately, rebound insomnia typically resolves in short order.) Therefore, though sleeping pills may temporarily provide relief, they are not recommended for long-term use to treat insomnia.
It can also be very important to address any chronic issues that might be contributing to insomnia. Insomnia frequently coexists with anxiety or depression, and these conditions will often continue if the other is left untreated. If the insomnia is related to problems in the sleep environment, these likewise should be addressed to provide relief.
Although the underlying tendency towards insomnia persists, just below the surface, the good news is that insomnia itself does not have to. The long-term prognosis to cure insomnia can be excellent. Treatment with CBTI and other interventions directed by a sleep specialist can be highly effective in making insomnia go away for good. Use our Doctor Discussion Guide below to start that conversation with your doctor about finding the right treatment option.
Insomnia Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
Many people struggle with sleep on Sunday nights вЂ”В and often this is down to stress, worry, and anxiety related to the upcoming workday on Monday, the extra effort we put into sleep on Sunday night, and our sleep-related behavior on the weekend!
A great way to minimize sleep disruption on Sunday night is to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. So, if you get out of bed at 6:00 AM on workdays, try to get out of bed at 6:00 AM on the weekend, too.
If you sleep later in the day on Sunday morning, there is going to be less time available for you to build sleep drive (and sleepiness) before you go to bed on Sunday night. The result is difficulty falling asleep.
How to get out of bed at the same time every morning when living with chronic insomnia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1DPuRScZfg
How to improve sleep when you don’t feel sleepy and don’t know how to get sleepy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaFD4ivgLKw
It can also be really helpful to avoid going to bed earlier than normal on Sunday night вЂ”В because, again, we are reducing the amount of time available for sleep drive to get to the level it needs to reach to make us sleep. So, we can end up going to bed before we are sleepy enough for sleep.
If you have insomnia, it’s not always a good idea to go to bed at the same time every single night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy-JXtoxaYU
When we combine reduced sleep drive with sleep-related worry and anxiety, we can make sleep very difficult indeed. Building enough sleep drive during the day can help reduce the power of our arousal system, and this can make sleep a bit easier.
What to do when anxious thoughts are making sleep difficult and leading to insomnia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2tjMWvBaWs
It can also be very helpful to make a conscious effort to remember all the times you managed to get through Monday after a hard night on Sunday. Think about all the Mondays you have survived. Try to remember the days after a hard night that were good (or even just OK). Pay particular attention to any positive moments you have experienced during the day after a hard night.
If you have chronic insomnia, you have an incredible ability! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL8AwEN9GxA
Very often, when you are able to recognize that you can get through the day (and even remain somewhat productive) after a hard night, you reduce the intensity of that sleep-related worry and anxiety. Combine reduced anxiety with a high sleep drive, and you are far more likely to sleep and to sleep well.
Why CBT-I is so effective when worry, anxiety, and a racing mind are fueling your chronic insomnia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FooE0_XW4_c
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My name is Martin Reed and I am the founder of Insomnia CoachВ®. I offer sleep coaching services that give people with insomnia all the skills and support they need to enjoy better sleep for the rest of their lives. I also offer a free two-week sleep training course for people with insomnia at https://insomniacoach.com/sleep-training/?ref=youtube102419
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All content found on the Insomnia Coach YouTube channel is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical advice or medical treatment and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, disorder, or medical condition. It should never replace any advice given to you by your physician or other licensed healthcare provider. All content is provided as is, and without warranties.