Sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That’s something that more and more people begin to realize and take more seriously. It’s essential for our development and for our physical, cognitive and mental functioning. But what happens if you can’t get the sleep you long for? If you toss and turn in bed all night, trying to find the right position to finally help you fall asleep? What happens if you’re woken up in the middle of the night and just can’t get back to sleep? According to the NSF (the National Sleep Foundation) and the APA (American Psychiatric Association), insomnia is the most common sleep disorder; about 30% of Americans say they’ve experienced symptoms of insomnia in the past year, and about 10% say they experience chronic insomnia. If you're asking yourself 'do I have a sleep disorder', start with getting to know what's preventing you from getting the sleep you need.
Causes of insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by a number of different factors, including various health conditions such as asthma, arthritis or neurological diseases, or mental conditions like depression and anxiety. While insomnia is more common among women, men of all ages can also experience its’ symptoms. In addition to health related causes, there are several risk factors that are likely to cause insomnia, including high levels of stress, depression related to a life event, changes in work hours or working night shifts.
Symptoms of insomnia
Symptoms of insomnia vary, and include difficulty to achieve continuous sleep (frequent wake-ups during the night and difficulty getting back to sleep afterwards), waking up earlier than planned (sometimes even before your alarm has gone off), persistent tiredness, difficulty to concentrate, extreme mood swings, irritability and more. Other factors that may increase the risk of insomnia are an irregular sleep schedule, lack of exercise and poor sleep hygiene.
Lifestyle changes for better sleep
In many cases, insomnia can be effectively treated by making a few simple lifestyle changes. Meditation is probably one of the simplest, natural methods for dealing with sleep difficulties, and has a strong potential to ease your struggle to fall asleep as well as to help you maintain quality sleep throughout the night. Download the dayzz sleep app to get various types of customized relaxation exercises, including progressive muscle relaxation and meditation to clear your mind on your way to better sleep.
Another crucial element in your way to improve your sleep is paying attention to your sleep hygiene, namely habits and behaviors to promote a good night’s sleep. If that’s the first time you’ve heard of this concept, it’s about time to start integrating it in your daily routine:
Make sure to keep a regular bedtime schedule. It might be harder than it sounds, but going to bed and waking up every day at the same time will gradually help you take control of your internal clock, fall asleep more easily and maintain quality sleep throughout the night. Do your best not to sleep in for more than you’re used to, especially on a day off.
Avoid daytime napping. As it may disrupt your sleep during the night, make sure to take as little naps as possible, especially during the weekends or on your days off. If at times you find the urge to take an afternoon nap too strong, try to make it as short as possible and wake up after only 1-2 hours.
Control your alcohol and caffeine intake. Try consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine a day, and have your last caffeinated beverage no later than 3-4 hours before bedtime. Additionally, limit your alcohol consumption to minimum, as it may disrupt the quality of your sleep, despite having the effect of assisting in falling asleep. Learn more about alcohol and caffeine's hidden agenda.
Use your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only. Remove any gadgets or electronic devices from your sleep apace, including smartphones and TV screens. It might be hard to get used to, but remember that lifestyle changes take time, and taking the right steps to promote quality sleep will slowly but surely help you improve your sleep towards better nights and days.
Start your journey towards more restful nights with a quick, personal sleep assessment!