Insomnia: What Is It, What Causes It And 7 Methods To Reduce The Symptoms
We've all been there at some point...
Lying awake in bed all through the night, tossing and turning as the frustration builds up.
A sense of panic ripples throughout your body when your alarm goes off.
"Oh no", you think to yourself, "I've only had 2 hours sleep yet I still need to go to work".
You aren't looking forward to it.
You know that you can't concentrate as much as you can when fully rested, and you are more prone to forgetting things.
Colleagues are going to mention how tired you look, but hopefully, you can drink copious amount of coffee just to get through the day and hope your boss doesn't notice your lacklustre productivity.
What if it didn't need to be like this?
What if you understand the science behind insomnia, and recognise the most effective methods to reduce the symptoms of it.
What if in understanding this, you will either never have insomnia again, or still feel energised, productive, healthy and happy when you've had no sleep.
It goes without saying that this blog post is for educational purposes. If you suffer from insomnia you should seek advice from a Doctor.
Having said that, we asked our team of productivity experts to go through what you can do about insomnia today.
We also have an article on overcoming the dreaded 'afternoon slump' that you should check out if you are interested.
Table of Contents- What is insomnia/ insomnia definition
- How to cure insomnia/ insomnia remedies
- Insomnia test
What is insomnia/Insomnia DefinitionInsomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by the inability to sleep.
The below video gives a great overview of what insomnia is, what insomnia means in terms of health as well as what strategies for overcoming insomnia may be.
Essentially, when not being able to sleep, for whatever reason, for a prolonged period of time, the body will experience the symptoms of sleep deprivation.
While most people will experience a sleepless night once in a while, the experience of insomnia is very different to that of missing one night’s sleep.
When you're an insomniac, sleeplessness becomes a vicious circle where going to bed may actually become associated with stress.
This raises the blood pressure and adrenaline levels and makes us focus and aware of any potential stressors in the environment, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.
If you then actually manage to fall asleep, sleeping will not have the same effect on your brain.
When not suffering from insomnia, sleeping a healthy amount of time will regenerate the brain for the next day.
However, when experiencing insomnia, the brain’s nutrients will be used up faster.
This cut in the brain’s energy supply will make you wake up exhausted rather than energized.
Insomnia CausesInsomnia can be caused as well as correlated with multiple health conditions. The video below mentions a few of the causes of insomnia, however, the list goes on.
Indeed, receiving medication for one health condition may be associated with causing another problem such as insomnia.
Similarly, certain conditions make it more likely for an individual to suffer from insomnia.
On the other hand, experiencing insomnia may also lead to other health conditions.
Therefore, it is important to find out what the root of the problem is before attempting to treat insomnia.
This will allow for the treatment of the cause rather than the symptoms.
Therefore, it is essential to see your GP if you are concerned about the amount of sleep you are getting.
How to cure insomnia/ insomnia remediesDepending on what the causes of insomnia are in a particular case, a ‘cure’ is not necessarily available.
However, there are methods that may reduce the symptoms of insomnia.
Similarly, there are methods that may work in helping to reduce the stress associated with insomnia.
1. Relaxation practicesWhen experiencing stress and identifying it as one of the factors contributing to insomnia, relaxation practices could be helpful.
Relaxation practices could include any activities that will reduce the stress experienced.
You may try to schedule in time to see family or friends or to read a book, join a society etc.
Getting into a routine of regularly engaging in relaxing activities may have the effect of preventing future stress by allowing you to calm down.
2. MeditationMeditation is a great way to relax body and mind and to practice focus and calmness.
Meditation has been associated with increased levels of alpha brainwaves in the brain making us more relaxed.
Similarly, meditation has also been associated with reduced symptoms of anxiety.
3. Breathing techniquesDeep breathing can actually increase the flow of cerebrospinal fluid to the brain, clearing brain waste.
Additionally, practising breathing may help you to relax and take the mind off something that could be perceived as a stressful event.
4. ExerciseExercising has been associated with healthy sleep patterns and reduced experience of stress.
Exercise is also a great way to energize and boost productivity as it enhances concentration and other cognitive functions.
5. Sleep practicesSleep practices and routines might be helpful in renewing the associations with the bed and the bedroom.
If these are perceived as stressors, then finding new access to these sleep practices will be useful in finding back to a healthy sleeping pattern.
6. A Dark roomWhen going to bed, the room should be dark as exposure to light will interfere with the secretion of melatonin, the hormone making us tired.
In particular, contact with blue light should be avoided.
Blue light is high in short-wavelengths and will have an even stronger effect than ‘yellow’ light.
Therefore, it is generally a good practice to avoid checking the phone before bed.
Additionally, you may want to set the settings on the phone, laptop, and other devices to a yellow light after a particular time about 2 hours before going to bed.
7. Cool (yet comfortable) temperatureMake sure the room is not too warm when going to bed.
This should be helpful when staying asleep.
This will hopefully help in preventing to associate the bedroom with stress.
As mentioned before, it is crucial to find out what is making you sleepless.
It could be insomnia, but it could also be another condition.
Knowing the root of the problem will be helpful for treatment.
Therefore, please see your GP when you feel like you may be experiencing insomnia or, indeed, another sleeping disorder
Insomnia is a serious condition that can have serious health implications.
If you have insomnia, you should really assess the specific causes and try to address them.
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Or, you can check out our related articles:
If you have any tips that help you work smarter not harder, let us know in the comments below.
If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends so that they too can boost energy and concentration whenever they wish.
- Aguirre, C. (2016, August 23). 7 healthy tips for a better night’s sleep.
- AsapSCIENCE. (n.d.). The Scientific Power of Meditation.
- The hidden secret of immortality enzyme telomerase: Can we stay young forever, or even recapture lost youth? (n.d.).
- Tortilus. (n.d.). A Brief Introduction to the Default Mode Network.
- Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED Talk. (n.d.).