Sleep appears to be a common phenomenon. While, most of us can catch sleep on a timely basis, some of us face recurrent difficulties owing to a host of reasons. In a lifestyle perturbed by stress, uneasiness and technology-related disorders, impact on physical and psychological well-being is witnessed in multiple ways. Technology can be a boon if used carefully and sensibly, but, technological devices can hijack our lives making us prey to continuous and non-optimal uses. At times, we don’t realise the havoc technology is capable of creating on our health. Fixating our eyes on a particular position for long in front of our television, cell phones or computer screens not only damages our vision, but can play evils to exacerbate our sleep problems. Difficulty falling asleep, facing anxiety-related disorders, depression and lack of concentration are the common drawbacks of over-use of electronic devices and anxiety emanating from them.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is referred to as a sleep disorder in which you are unable to sleep for long hours and/or face troubles falling or staying asleep. The condition can be immediate and can range from short-term or acute insomnia to last for a long time or chronic insomnia. The condition can arrive and leave early too. Conditions of acute insomnia usually last from a single night to a few weeks, while chronic insomnia occurs for a minimum of three consecutive nights a week for three months and longer. Insomnia is a persistent sleep disorder that has affected millions of people across the world.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults require at least 7-9 hours of sleep with respect to every 24-hour time period depending on their age and lifestyle. Researches indicate around 25 percent of people in the United States suffering from insomnia each year, with around 75 percent not prone to life-term conditions. Short-time insomnia can result in daytime fatigue conditions, difficulty in attention span, among many more, further raising the risk of several diseases.
Insomnia – Types
Insomnia can be classified into two specific types:
- Primary Insomnia: The condition arises when your sleep problem are not a primary determinant of other health conditions caused by sleep-related disorders.
- Secondary Insomnia: The condition arises when you face problems falling asleep due to a persistent health condition such as asthma, arthritis, cancer, heart burns, etc. including stress, pain, medication or constant substance usage like alcohol.
What can lead to the condition?
Insomnia can be triggered by a range of physical and psychological factors. Causes can include a temporary a temporary problem, like a short-term stress phenomena while others can be caused from an underlying or persistent medical condition.
Common causes of primary insomnia include:
- Stress caused or witnessed by significant, large-scale events like loss in jobs or change, moving from one place to another, death of a family member or relative, divorce, etc.
- Changes in surroundings brought about by loud noise, temperature changes, brightness, etc.
- Patterns of sleep changes being influenced by changes in shifts or timings like jet lag, a new schedule at work, or changes in habits, etc.
- Common causes of secondary insomnia include:
- Medications being prescribed for cold, allergies, depression, asthma, heart conditions, high blood pressure, etc.
- Mental health or psychological issues ranging from depression, hypertension and anxiety
- Pain, uneasiness or discomfort faced at night
- Conditions of hyperthyroidism and other endocrine ailments
- Usage of excessive caffeine, tobacco and alcohol
- Other sleep related disorders like sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, etc.
How to treat Insomnia?
The amount of sleep required by each person varies widely, but, most adults need at least seven hours of sleep during night. A large number face challenges due to short-term insomnia which may lead to difficulty falling asleep and stay asleep for long till the waking up period. Following a bunch of measures and home-induced remedies, one can relieve the symptoms up to a large extent. These include:
Solution One: Practice of Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness includes the ability to focus on an object, a state or condition for longer. Mindfulness mediation includes practicing slow, steady breaths while sitting at a place quietly. During the process, you observe your breath, body, changes in sensations, thoughts and feelings as they rise and pass slowly. Focusing on breath calms down your mind and body and raises an awareness of surroundings and environment around you.
Mindfulness meditation is accompanied by numerous health benefits promoting regularised balance of mind and body along with inducing good sleep. The practices reduces stress, improves level of concentration and boosts immune functions. Meditation can be performed anywhere and at any time, usually, morning hours are considered to be the best. One can meditate frequently to aim for a better living. Even if you don’t have enough time for a longer session, performing mindfulness for even as short as 15-20 minutes can have a rich impact on body.
Meditation has the power to delve deeper into a state of complete calmness and is safer and beneficial for practice. People who practice mindfulness on a regular basis have borne positive fruits in their abilities to concentrate better, sleep healthy and work better.
Solution Two: Repetition of Mantras
Chanting of mantras or positive affirmations repeatedly helps to focus better and calms minds. Mantras have enriched benefits by generating feelings of relaxation and quieting the mind.
A 2015 study indicates researchers to have taught homeless women to repeat a mantra silently and before sleeping in which many who used the mantra repetition over the course of a week experienced relaxed state of mind and reduced insomnia. A mantra can be picked from Sanskrit, English, or any other language. One can choose a mantra that feels pleasant and soothing. It should ideally focus on a good, positive statement in the present tense. A good mantra allows you to focus on the specific repetition of sound which will induce sleep hormones and bring your minds at peace.
Mantras should be chanted mentally or aloud, by maintaining focus on the words. Calm music can also be played while chanting continues.
Solution Three: Practicing Yoga
Yoga is a powerful tool to alleviate stress, raise physiological functions and metabolism along with reducing stress. One should rely on the type involving moving meditation or breath work rather than harsher, physical movements. Practice of slow and controlled movements can allow one to stay focused on the present. Yoga types including Yin and restorative yoga are considered healthy options.
One should make it a habit to perform few longer sessions each week, with a minimum of 20 minutes of daily self-practice regime. Performing certain poses and postures before bedtime can help to unwind mental stress and sleep better. Changing poses that work best depending on the body type can prevent forceful movement and body injuries and increase comfort.
Solution Four: Daily Exercise
Exercise works wonders for your mind and body by boosting metabolism, increasing flow of blood, enhancing mood, reducing weight and sleeping better. People with insomnia are advised to perform daily exercise for at least 30 minutes that can include brisk walking, running, twisting or other workouts to maintain a healthy body and relieve tension.
So, to get the desired benefits, one should indulge in moderate exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes each day. Including some strength training along with aerobic workouts a few times in a week can pave way for insomnia relief.
Solution Five: Massage Therapy
As per a 2015 study, researchers concluded that massage therapy is said to benefit people with insomnia by raising sleep quality and reducing abnormal function sin the body. The process can limit sensations of pain, anxiety and depression in an individual.
If availing professional massage is not an easy option, one can opt for self-massage also. You must focus your mind on sensations of touch as your mind wanders. Using oil for massage has potential benefits as it helps to cam down muscles and ease stiffness.
One must consult a doctor in case of bone or muscle ailments before performing a massage. It is also advisable to ensure that skin is free of any allergy or sensitivity to oil or creams.
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Solution Six: Avoiding Substance Use and Caffeinated Drinks
Bringing about certain lifestyle changes can help cure insomnia to a large extent. Be sure to avoid dependence on chemicals that disrupt sleep patterns, such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. It is rudimentary to consume lighter meals at night before two hours to bed. One must stay active and exercise regularly. Taking a hot shower bath at the end of the day can help you feel relaxed and sleep better at night.
Apart from these, always avoid using screens as far as possible one to two hours before bed. So, why wait? Let’s try out these techniques and see the magic happening!
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