Have you been sleeping well lately? Have you managed to fall asleep, only to wake up far too early?
Occasional insomnia is nothing to worry about, as it can happen to anyone once in a while. But when sleeplessness becomes a regular occurrence, it can impact your mental and physical health.
According to recent studies, insomnia is relatively common. There is a 10% to 30% prevalence of insomnia in the global population, some even as high as 50% to 60%. It is prevalent in women, older adults, and people with poor mental or physical health.
In this guide, we compiled some effective insomnia self-care techniques that can help you feel rested and rejuvenated.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia means having trouble falling and staying asleep or having a good quality sleep. Even when you have the chance to sleep well, you still struggle to get a shut-eye. Poor sleep will make it hard for you to function during the day.
Sleeplessness may be usual to some people. However, the experience may not be common to everyone as there are types of insomnia. Short-term insomnia is a brief period of having trouble sleeping. It usually lasts for a week or two up to 3 months, depending on the cause.
Long-term insomnia is a chronic disorder that can happen at least 3 times a week within 3 months or longer. Other types of insomnia are mixed insomnia, co morbid insomnia, sleep maintenance insomnia, etc.
Some women may also experience insomnia before period which lasts for a couple of days. Consult a sleep specialist to know which type of insomnia is causing you problems.
Insomnia Self-Care: What Does It Mean?
Managing insomnia is a self-care practice that allows you to set up a first-line defense against sleep problems. It’s your first step to getting quality sleep. Insomnia self-care means tweaking your lifestyle to create a better sleep environment and reduce stress.
Taking care of yourself can work wonders for your body. Adopting healthy sleeping habits can induce sleep and decrease insomnia symptoms. Moreover, modifying your sleep environment can reduce stress and help you get your desired results.
Insomnia self-care is often recommended as the initial approach to managing sleep difficulties. It's relatively low-risk, accessible, and can yield positive results. Compared to other sleep medications, self-care has fewer side effects. It also can’t cause dependence or addiction.
However, its effectiveness may vary depending on the underlying causes of insomnia. If you struggle with chronic insomnia, then additional therapies and expert help might be necessary.
How Effective Is Self-Care For Insomnia?
Based on a study from the Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice, insomnia self-care strategies like meditative walking, change in bedtime habits, and journaling can improve sleep. The effect, however, varies based on the approach people find useful. For example, some people find journaling naturally relaxing. Others go on long walks to refresh their mind. It is a form of meditation that can ease stress and improve sleep quality.
A meta-analysis which was conducted in 10 studies with 1,000 subjects proved that self-help therapy has improved sleep onset latency, sleep efficiency, and sleep quality. These benefits were maintained in the long run.
How to Use Self-Care Techniques for Improving Sleep?
Sleep is complicated. When you sleep, you go through different stages:
- Stage 1: It is the shortest stage, the lightest, and the easiest to wake up from.
- Stage 2: This is a fairly light stage where brain activity starts to slow down.
- Stage 3 & 4: In this stage, your body dives into a deeper sleep. People who reach these stages are hard to wake up. These stages also allow the body to go into repair mode, promote physical growth, and improve the immune system.
- REM (rapid eye movement): This is the final phase of the sleep cycle. In REM, your brain becomes more active and dreams start to appear. Your brain sorts information and stores memories.
To get better sleep, you need to recognize and understand what’s causing your sleep problems. Several factors, such as erratic work shifts, depression, anxiety, stress, uncomfortable sleeping conditions, alcohol, drug use, trauma, etc., can cause insomnia, Insomnia is considered a common type of sleep disorder. Other types are neurological and respiratory-related. Neurological sleep disorders include fatal insomnia, central sleep apnea, narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea, chronic snoring, asthma are respiratory-related.
You can keep a sleep journal to track sleep patterns and identify the factors that trigger disruptions. Sleep trackers can also help you collect basic information about your sleeping habits.
For more accurate results, it’s best to see a sleep specialist. A medical sleep study can give you a detailed overview of your sleep habits. Experts can help monitor brain waves and analyze each stage of your sleep. These studies can help diagnose any conditions that might be disrupting your sleep, like sleep apnea.
Insomnia Is a Common Complaint
More than one-third of the population has insomnia from time to time but only about 5% require treatment. About 1 in 3 adults develop symptoms of insomnia that last briefly, while 1 in 5 adults have a short-term insomnia disorder that lasts for 3 months or less.
Short-term insomnia affects 30% to 50% of adults at any point in life. It often occurs due to events like stress, new sleep settings, time zone changes, certain health issues, or stimulant medications. These difficulties usually go away once the triggering event ends.
In a collective study, global stressors can profoundly impact sleep. Based on recent reports, about 37% were reported struggling with insomnia during the COVID-19 pandemic, and over 17% fell on the official diagnosis of insomnia.
If someone struggles to sleep for 3 months or longer, it's called chronic insomnia. It affects roughly 10% of adults. Many factors can cause chronic insomnia:
- Primary insomnia - the inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep resulting in fatigue and sleepiness during the day. It is not associated with lifestyle habits or a medical or psychiatric cause.
- Secondary insomnia - this type is caused by various medical or mental health issues or ongoing drug or alcohol abuse.
- Idiopathic insomnia - a long-term sleep problem with no clear cause, previously referred to as childhood-onset insomnia.
Who Is Prone to Insomnia?
The most predominant insomnia risk factors are:
Old age - The older you get, the bigger your chances of experiencing insomnia. Studies show that factors like psychiatric disorders, health problems, and medications can increase the risk for insomnia.
Family history - Insomnia has a genetic component. Experts believe that genetic predisposition contributes to about 31% to 58% of the possibility of having insomnia. Fatal insomnia is a rare genetic brain disorder that can start with mild sleeplessness and get worse over time.
Gender - Women are more prone to insomnia than men. It has a lot to do with hormones. For example, insomnia before period is a common problem.
Lifestyle - Some activities and behaviors can affect your quality of sleep like working night shifts, doing mentally stimulating activities before bed, chronic inactivity, etc.
Stress - Psycho physiological insomnia is often associated with stress. Psychological factors like anxiety and worry can make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. According to a recent survey, 42% of adults reported having poor sleep quality, and 43% stated that stress was the main contributor that kept them awake at night. When patients didn’t sleep enough, 21% stated feeling even more stressed.
8 Insomnia Self-care Techniques That Work
Insomnia self-care is the practice of protecting your well-being. You get to create an environment that reduces stress and amplifies your sleep routine. Here are a couple of things for you to try.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a method that trains your mind. It blends meditation with the practice of mindfulness. It helps you to manage your racing thoughts, release negativity, and bring a sense of calm to both your body and mind.
Studies show that mindfulness meditation can boost some sleep parameters in people with insomnia.
2. Practice Sleep Hygiene
Here are some habits that may help with psycho physiological insomnia or other forms of insomnia:
- Be active during the day.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Sleep and wake up at consistent times every day.
- Put away any electronic gadgets from your bedroom.
- Make sure the room is comfortable, quiet, and soothing.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or caffeine, or eat heavy meals before bed.
- Take a Nutrition Diet
3. Choose the Right Foods
Some foods and drinks can come in handy when you are trying to get some shut-eye. They can supply the body with essential nutrients that aid in sleep. For example, foods like nuts, fatty fish, milk, cherries, kiwi, and rice are known to promote better sleep and relaxation.
To ensure that you feel fresh and rejuvenated as you wake up, you can try the NUU3 Nature's Superfuel. This is also a great choice for encouraging detoxification and supporting the immune system. It can give the body all the nutrients it needs to sleep well.
Yoga promotes melatonin production and decreases sleep disturbance. It is incredibly relaxing and induces sleep.
The NUU3 Keep Calm Gummies can make a great addition to your bedtime routine. The formula is designed to calm the mind and boost cognitive health.
5. Try Light Regulation
Many people prefer to sleep in a dark room. Use blinds, thick curtains, or a sleep mask to prevent light from waking you up.
The same applies to artificial light. Don’t use your mobile phone, TV, or tablet before bed. This light can have a stimulating effect.
6. Try Relaxation Techniques
If you struggle with psycho physiological insomnia, or any similar type, these relaxation tips might help:
- Breathing exercises (i.e. counting breaths, box breathing, belly breathing, etc)
- Guided imagery (i.e. imagining relaxing scenes, sounds, colors, or sights)
- Progressive muscle relaxation (tensing up particular muscles and then relaxing them)
- Reading a book
- Taking a warm shower or bath
- Getting a massage
7. Try Medication
Different drugs can be used to treat insomnia. For occasional sleepless nights, you can use over-the-counter sleeping pills like antihistamines.
But, for chronic sleep disorders, like psycho physiological insomnia, your doctor may prescribe a melatonin receptor stimulator, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or other drugs.
If you want to use a natural supplement, then the Nuu3 Deep Sleep Gummies can be a worthy choice. This high-quality formula can improve many aspects of sleep, enhancing your mental and physical health.
8. Quit smoking or vaping
If you are a regular smoker, it can take longer for you to fall asleep. You are also more likely to wake up in the middle of the night which could disrupt your sleep schedule.
Why Do I Need a Sleep Regimen On Weekends?
A recent study found that women who slept an extra 2 or more hours on weekends were more prone to having heart health issues.
This means that if you need to sleep more during the weekdays and try to catch up by sleeping longer on weekends, it doesn't fully fix the negative consequences of insufficient sleep. Fatal insomnia, or any other insomnia type you may have, can have a profound impact on your quality of life.
So, how can you maintain a healthy sleep balance? Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day.
A regular sleep schedule during the weekends helps regulate your body’s internal clock. But, if you change your sleep routine during the weekends, then this can harm your circadian rhythms over time.
When you are chronically sleep-deprived due to insomnia before period or other insomnia type, the body hinders the release of human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone is crucial for building muscles and burning fat. As a result, you may experience weight gain and slower metabolism.
The best sleep schedule is different for everyone. According to Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist, sleep schedule is based on the person’s biological preference or chronotype - a “night owl” or a “morning person”.
Whether you prefer to wake up in the morning or evening is mostly determined by your genetic makeup. Even if your daily routine doesn’t align with your body’s chronotype, sticking to a consistent schedule is better than having a highly irregular or erratic schedule.
What do people with insomnia do when they can't sleep?
Some prefer to listen to calming music, take a warm bubble bath, or focus on their breathing. Others like to exercise a lot to spend their excess energy.
Can your body shut down from lack of sleep?
While the body won’t entirely shut down from a short-term lack of sleep or insomnia before period, chronic sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on your body and cognitive abilities.
What does severe insomnia look like?
Severe insomnia is awful and draining. People experience fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and mood disturbances. They often spend many days at work with little to no sleep.
Insomnia is a tiring, enraging, and frustrating sleep disorder. Frustrations come out when all you want is to sleep but you can’t. Despite all these challenges, different insomnia self-care methods can alleviate the symptoms and boost the quality of sleep.
To create a sleep-friendly oasis, establish a regular sleep schedule, tailor the bedroom to your needs, and try to relax with meditation and deep breathing. Don’t forget to be active during the day and remove any stimulants that can keep you awake.
5] ↑ https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/do-sleep-trackers-really-work