I once saw a friend post on her status quoting Proverbs 4:16 that ‘There’s no sleep for the wicked’ and explained that she hadn’t slept for several nights. This, of course, she did on a light note.
Insomnia can be described as a medical condition that makes an individual unable to fall asleep or remaining asleep for a reasonable time. In many cases, the insomniac would wake up abruptly and remain so till morning. Note that insomnia is classified as such by the quality of sleep, and how one feels after they sleep. One may sleep 8 hours night but if they feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia. This condition is plaguing most of our young populations, especially those of us on campus. We are almost coming to terms with it, but the only problem is that we cannot live up with the long-term consequences.
Symptoms of Insomnia
- Difficulty falling asleep despite being tired
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Trouble getting back to sleep when awakened
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to sleep
- Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
So, what causes insomnia?
There is a range of causes of insomnia ranging from psychological, to physical health, lifestyle, to medication causes. Among many, the following are the culprits for Insomnia for many of us:
• Anxiety, stress and depression
One may experience a lack of sleep due to these factors. This is because the body is not able to relax and the mind is constantly roaming on various worries and fear. To add to this, you will again develop anxiety and stress because of insomnia. It is a cycle!
Medical Conditions or Illnesses Cause
• Asthma and allergies
• Parkinson’s diseases
• Acid reflux
• Chronic pain
Among many others.
• Prescription drugs may also be a cause for insomnia as side effects.
• Use of alcohol, long term use of sleeping pills
• Use of caffeine and nicotine-containing beverages and drinks
• Irregular sleep schedule and napping during the day
• Eating sugary and heavy meals a few moments before bedtime
• Use of electronics with screens before bedtime i.e. phones, laptops, television et cetera
The image illustrates the effects of long term insomnia if left unattended to:
And how do we go about the problem?
Stating the symptoms and the causes doesn’t help, until and unless we know the solution to this problem many of us do face every night. You need not dread night times, dear reader. The following tips would be of help:
i) Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Recognize and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. Remove factors that condition your mind not to sleep, learn, and practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety, restrict your sleeping to the bedroom and nighttime.
ii) Bedroom conditions should be conducive. The bedroom should be quiet, dark, and cool. Have yourself a comfortable pillow and mattress and coverings (blanket/duvet)
iii) Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock. Maintain a regular wake-up and sleeping times. When you wake during the night, get out of bed and do some non-stimulating activity i.e. read a book.
iv) Turn off all screens at least one hour before bed. Electronic screens emit blue light that disrupts the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Instead of the screens, you may listen to some soft music, and/or read a book.
v) Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bed.
vi) Avoid heavy meals in the evening, and eat earlier – 2-3 hours before night time. Avoid drinking fluids before bed. Spicy and acidic foods cause stomach irritability and heartburn that may disrupt sleep during the night.
vii) Avoid caffeine and nicotine at all costs. Don’t go for the easier option of using sleeping medications as you become dependent in the long run.
Proper rest by sleeping during the night is essential to every human being, as long as they live. For by sleeping, our brains and the body, in general, is rejuvenated and we get refreshed. Remember, even machines do overheat and there left to cool down, a way to ‘rest’ such – how about us.
The suggestions above may not bring immediate results, but a total lifestyle change would do us good. Good night already…