The Nature of Insomnia

August 20, 2018

All of us have experienced grogginess from lack of sleep to the point of self-identifying as insomniacs the same way we’re quick to call ourselves obsessive-compulsive. However, insomnia is a very real condition with a number of undesirable effects. It is a sleep disorder involving difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or returning to sleep. It is most commonly caused by anxiety, stress, and depression.
If you have a general irritability, anxiety, drowsiness, lack of energy, or difficulty with tasks, you may suffer from the most common sleep disorder in the country. Forty million Americans suffer from insomnia annually, with an increased prevalence among women and older adults. Chronic insomnia is apparent when you have insomnia at least 3 nights a week for at least 3 months. 
Other psychological and emotional causes include bipolar disorder, trauma, anger, worry, and grief. Health issues like asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer can contribute as well. Of course, unhealthy habits not conducive to a good night’s rest increase your likelihood of poor long term sleep. Eating or exercising too close to bedtime, or getting too much mental stimulation via your devices are not recommended. 
The most immediate way to reduce insomniac tendencies is to set up your optimal sleeping environment to be the most comfortable possible. Keep your temperature, lighting, and noise levels to your ideal preferences. Then its best to deal with the source of the mental and emotional problems that are keeping you up at night. Meditation and yoga are good habits for your mental and physical health, but therapy could be the most effective solution.
Behavioral therapy with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health counselor can help with your insomnia through stimulus control. This trains you to use your bedroom for sleep and conjugal activities only, excluding work, television, or internet browsing. Insomniacs are recommended to do something relaxing in another room until they’re sleepy enough to get to bed.
Cognitive therapy is when a therapist talks with a patient about attitudes and beliefs that may be contributing to their poor sleep. Relaxation training deals with the physical aspect of sleeplessness, reducing tension and promoting relief of the muscles. Finally, over-the-counter (OTC) prescription sleep aids may cure insomnia with a professional’s recommendation. 

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