By noon, you already feel exhausted. By 2pm, you’re nearly asleep. Even when your eyelids aren’t drooping, you know you aren’t operating at 100% — you get easily irritated, you can’t focus, and when you do work, your mind is clouded by “brain-fog” and you make more mistakes than you’d like.
These are all symptoms resulting from the lack of good, restful, sleep — or, insomnia.
Insomnia comes in a variety of forms, including having trouble falling asleep, waking up often during the night, and difficulty going back to sleep. Insomnia is usually classified as either acute or chronic. Acute insomnia (also called short-term, stress-related, and transient insomnia) lasts less than three months, and is often linked to a specific cause. Once insomnia lasts for more than three months, it becomes chronic insomnia, and is more difficult to deal with.
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Regardless of its time-frame, insomnia leads to fatigue and greatly disrupts life in 20-30% of Americans. If left unchecked, insomnia can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). But the good news is that insomnia is manageable. If you’re suffering from insomnia, take the simple steps of altering your environment, keeping a consistent routine, and improving your lifestyle.
1. Alter your Environment
Not surprisingly, the environment you sleep in has a great affect on your ability to go to sleep. Make sure you have a comfortable place to sleep — mattresses and pillows wear down in small degrees, so it’s easy to forget they need to be replaced from time to time. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark, to avoid extra stimuli that may keep you up. If there’s uncontrollable noise nearby, invest in a fan or white noise machine.
2. Keep a Routine
Going to bed at the same time every night will go a long ways to improving your sleep habits. Also, build your routine to exclude stimulating activities (such as working on the computer) in the time before you go to bed. Avoid reading books or doing work on your bed, to prevent non-sleep associations from building.
3. Improve your Lifestyle
Get outside. Exercise will get your blood pumping, use energy, and kickstart your body back into operating the way it’s supposed to. Absorbing sunshine will help restore your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep.
4. Visit an Insomnia Doctor
It’s possible you have a particularly severe case of chronic insomnia, and these lifestyle adjustments don’t quite fix the problem. If this is your experience, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with a holistic insomnia doctor. Insomnia is a complex problem, with a number of potential root causes, often working together. It takes a holistic look at your life to determine the factors resulting in insomnia, and only then can treatment begin.
Watch Dr. Ward’s Facebook video here as she discusses the reasons for insomnia and more solutions to getting a better nights sleep.