Exhausted. Destroyed. Exhausted Dead tired. If you have insomnia, then you will know how it feels to be very, very tired all day. That is simply due to the poor quality of your sleep.
Research reveals that lack of sleep affects every organ in our body and can cause serious mental distress. In fact, in many countries it is used as a form of torture!
Many factors can cause occasional insomnia or chronic insomnia, including anxiety, stress, depression, and other physical problems like asthma, cancer, and heart failure. Noise, light, or extreme temperatures, as well as changing your sleep schedule and many other factors, can interfere with sleep.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
If you have insomnia, you may have difficulty falling asleep, you can wake up very early, or you can wake up many times during the night, as happens with Shelley Levitt, content contributor for Live Happy.
During the day, you may feel very tired, irritable, and lack of motivation or memory and concentration problems. You may find yourself making mistakes at work or in your studies and feel unexplained headaches or stomach aches. Oddly enough, one of the symptoms of insomnia is worry about sleep!
How is insomnia treated?
The main treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a highly effective form of psychotherapy to challenge irrational ideas with more logical thought patterns. Before starting CBT, I ask my patients to make some changes to their sleep habits and schedules.
- Lifestyle changes to improve sleep
Give yourself a chance to relax before bed: take a bath or listen to soothing music. Try not to eat abundantly at the end of the day.
Make your bedroom a comfortable place to sleep: keep the environment dark, calm and not too hot or too cold. Use a sleep mask that covers the light or ear plugs or a fan to mask the noise.
I know it’s a struggle, but at bedtime try not to worry about sleep. You can distract yourself with a moment of reading, prayer, or meditation. Turn your watch to avoid tempting you to continually check the time; You may want to take it to another side of your room to resist the temptation to look at it.
- Consider what are the triggers for your insomnia
Many people are predisposed to stress and anxiety, which makes them more prone to insomnia. Something called a “precipitating event” happens like the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or a new job: anything that causes great stress. That event, in turn, can trigger negative habits, such as not going to bed regularly at the same time or consuming alcohol to help fall asleep and deal with stress. Things start to form a snowball that can become a case of insomnia.
If you know you are facing a stressful situation or moment, try to find ways to relieve stress, such as exercise and meditation, so you don’t end up falling into a negative pattern of sleep or caffeine and alcohol.
- Keep a sleep journal
I ask patients to keep a sleep log or diary in which they write down the following information, which we then review, looking for patterns:
- What time did he go to sleep?
- At what approximate time he fell asleep.
- What time did he wake up?
- How many times did you wake up during the night?
- How long did you stay awake at night?
- If you took any medicine.
- Any feeling lightheaded or drowsy when waking up or during the day.
- Naps and duration.
- Sleep restriction
This technique is very effective if done correctly under the supervision of a sleep disorder specialist or health professional. It is completely anti-intuitive, but it really works.
I ask my patients not to go to bed earlier but later. For example, if you normally go to bed at 10 at night but don’t sleep until midnight, and the next day you get up at 6:30 in the morning, I ask you to go to sleep at 12:30, after the midnight. This way they only spend 6 hours in bed. Between seven and ten days later, I see that in general the number of times they wake up at night is reduced while the necessary amount of sleep improves. This means that the brain begins to recognize when to go to sleep and when to continue sleeping. However, it is difficult and the sleep schedule should also be maintained on weekends.
- Cognitive restructuring
It turns out that the way you think about sleep affects how you sleep. every time you don’t sleep those eight hours you generate a certain degree of anxiety. I use a specialized questionnaire to identify false perceptions like that. We analyze these perceptions below to find out if they are true (in most cases they are exaggerated) and what the patient can do to rethink his thoughts about sleep. Then doctor and patient work together on those false perceptions. (This step is an example of cognitive behavioral therapy.)
- Meditation and relaxation exercises
If sleep restriction is working but you still have trouble falling asleep when your bedtime is early, I turn to specialized relaxation techniques that specifically help you fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night. Here are few more tips that will help improving your sleep partners and give a healthy life.