Skip to main content

Do you have insomnia? Let's get back to sleep

·3 mins

With an early meeting in the morning, I had done everything I could think to do to get through my latest bout of insomnia and go to sleep.

I had exercised, eaten an early dinner, given myself time to wind down, read a few chapters until I felt drowsy, and softly closed my eyes.

When I woke up in the middle of the night, it was as if someone opened a web browser I had forgotten that I minimized, and all the tabs started reloading. What if it rains when I get married next year? Did I annoy my friend when I asked for pet-sitting help? I should really do a better job of keeping in touch with extended family. Am I taking too much time off? Not enough?

Before I knew it, I was buzzing. I did get some sleep, eventually, but it was constantly interrupted by my tossing and turning. Once the first rays of sunlight came through my bedroom window, I had given up.

I am one of the 1 in 10 people who have chronic insomnia, said a sleep expert.

Chronic insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or fall back asleep up to three times a week for more than three months. This condition can impact daily life with symptoms such as concentration problems or changes in mood.

While there are several treatment methods for chronic insomnia, such as sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioral therapy, these often take weeks to take effect.

For those nights when sleep seems elusive, the first step is to identify the underlying cause of insomnia. It can sometimes be triggered by big life changes, stress, anxiety, depression, or restless leg syndrome.

If restlessness due to restless leg syndrome is a factor, engaging in activities like walking around the house and doing stretches can help before trying to sleep again.

It is important not to associate the bed with long periods of tossing and turning, so staying out of bed when unable to sleep is recommended.

Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine and giving oneself 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep can be helpful. If sleep is not achieved within that time, engaging in a relaxing activity in another room until feeling drowsy is advised.

Engaging in relaxing activities such as listening to classical music, reading a book, or following good sleep hygiene practices can also help in those restless moments.

In cases where other methods fail, there are over-the-counter or prescription medications available to alleviate difficulty sleeping.

If despite following recommended practices, a person still feels tired during the day after getting sufficient sleep, it may be worth consulting a doctor to investigate potential underlying sleep disorders.

Ensuring adequate sleep is essential for various aspects of health, including memory, cognition, and immune function.

Talking to a healthcare professional is recommended if persistent fatigue and daytime difficulties are experienced despite getting enough sleep.