The inability to get to sleep, fall asleep faster or stay asleep naturally can be both distressing and disorienting. Yet at some point in your life, insomnia simply happens. For some people, it can be short-lived, yet for others; it can be a prolonged and life-threatening issue.
Insomnia is a common sleep problem that results in trouble falling asleep that mainly affects adults that have difficulty falling or staying asleep throughout the night even though the person has the opportunity to sleep. Insomnia usually results in mood disturbances, difficulty concentrating, low energy, fatigue and decreased performance at school or at work.
People with a bad bedtime routine often feel, that their sleep quality is not as satisfying once compared to that of other people.
There are two types of insomnia; acute insomnia and chronic insomnia.
Acute/transient insomnia – Brief disruption of sleep patterns due to life events such as the night before a big interview or exam, or receiving stressful or bad news.
Chronic insomnia – Sleep disruption that lasts at least three months and that happens at least three nights every week.
The Causes of Insomnia may be caused by psychological or physical factors. Chronic insomnia is in many instances caused by underlying medical conditions while acute insomnia is typically a result of recent occurrences or events.
The following can be the cause of insomnia:
- Circadian Rhythm Disruption – Extreme cold or heat (the body’s temperature), jet lag, environmental noise, job shift changes, high altitudes.
- Hormones – Estrogen shifts during menstruation.
- Psychological Problems – psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depression.
- Medical Conditions – stroke, chronic pain, tumours, chronic fatigue syndrome, high blood pressure, heart disease, nervous systems, brain lesions, congestive heart failure, arthritis, angina, hyperthyroidism, acid-reflux, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s, sleep apnoea, asthma.
- Some types of prescription drugs such as antidepressants and stimulants.
- High levels of stress about life. Issues such as work, school, health, and even family or finances can be keeping your thoughts elevated, making you unable to fall asleep. Again, life transitions including death of loved ones or loss of job can bring about insomnia.
- Environmental factors such as loud noise, extreme light, bad sleep positions, bed bed, uncomfortable bedding including pillow cases, duvet covers, sheets and severe temperatures, whether hot or cold, could make it difficult to get to sleep.
- Other factors – pregnancy, sleeping next to a snoring partner, an over-active mind, parasites, medications, medications, media, and technology in the bedroom.
Symptoms of Insomnia
There are several symptoms that could be an indication of sleep disorders though the condition itself could also be an indicator of other underlying medical conditions. The following are the most common symptoms of insomnia:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Worrying about being able to sleep
- Waking up in the night
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Waking up earlier than desired
- Difficulty socializing
- Feeling tired even after a night of sleep
- Tension headaches
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Uncoordinated movements and actions
- Anxiety, depression, and irritability
- Poor focus and concentration
People who have insomnia may also report not being fully refreshed and may not feel fully awake.
They could also feel sleepy and tired throughout their day.
How To Get To Sleep With Insomnia – Sleeping Tips
A number of critical sleep aids steps can be applied to ensure quality of your paradoxical intention sleep, and bring an end to sleep difficulties. One of the best ways to prevent and stop insomnia is adopting good habits. These habits include :
- Having a consistent bedtime and wake up time every day including on weekends.
- Coming up with a consistent bedtime ritual which may be something like listening to soft music, reading or taking a warm bath.
- Have regular activity that requires some exertions – Engage in some exercise such as running or swimming which promote a better night’s sleep.
- Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible for your nighttime sleep and use the bed only for sleep and sex, and not for reading your Kindle or working.
- Avoid alcohol and limit caffeine and if you must use them, ensure you do not have any for at least 5 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid or limit any naps during the day particularly during the late afternoon.
- Check with your doctor that your medications are not at fault and remove any that may result in insomnia.
- Stick to regular sleep and waking times; these should include your weekends and holidays. Such consistency sets your biological clock and makes your body to naturally adjust. Eventually, you are able to get back to a sleep routine that is regular.
- Check that your bedroom is uncluttered, cool, quiet, with comfortable bedding and free from noise. It helps your mind to remain calm and ready for an interrupted sleep.
- An over the counter natural sleep aid can stop the poor sleep and help replace with quality sleep.
- Try breathing techniques such as inhale deeply hold your breath for 10 seconds then exhale completely and repeat the process.
What happens after 24 hours of sleep deprivation?
Sleep is important as it keeps your whole-body system in regeneration mode while you rest.
There are several people who may miss a night of sleep due to having to take care of a sick child, study for a test, or work overnight to beat a deadline.
Even though staying up for 24 hours without sleep will be an unpleasant experience, you will likely not experience any significant negative experience on your health.
Nonetheless, missing sleep might still have some side effects. Several studies have shown that not sleeping for up to 24 hours is comparable to having .10 percent alcohol in the blood. This is well above the legal limit for one allowed to drive in most states in the US.
Other effects of sleep deprivation over 24 hours include: drowsiness, increased risk of accidents, irritability, tremors, impaired decision making, increased muscle tension, impaired judgment, reduced hand-eye coordination, altered perception, impaired hearing and vision, and memory deficits. Most of these symptoms will disappear once you get some sleep.
What to do when you can’t fall asleep – Tips To Beat Insomnia
Learning how to sleep better with sleep hygiene helps in improving the quality of your life. If you realize that you are unable to sleep and struggle when hitting the sack, this is what you can do to remedy the situation and stop you feeling tired.
Insomnia usually involves either problems staying asleep at night, falling asleep when you want to, or waking up too early in the middle of the night. The following are some of the things you can do to break these patterns:
- Set a wind-down time of about 30 minutes before you head to the bed – during this time you should establish a routine such as dimming the lights, some breathing exercises such as deep breathing or reading a physical book (not kindles).
- Shut-down all electronics including tablets, phones, and laptops as the blue light from these devices can mess with the Circadian rhythm in the brain making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Have a set time when you go to bed and wake up every day. Even when you have a hard time falling asleep and feel unrested in the morning, you need to have a fixed schedule that you follow religiously even during the weekends. This helps to adjust the circadian rhythm and makes it easier to fall asleep.
- Sleeping pills from your doctor can be another option, especially if your sleep issues are becoming severe.
- Use mind and body relaxation techniques such as meditation, music, and reading to help you descend quickly into healthy sleep.
- Avoid eating and drinking a few hours before you go to bed, don’t eat carbs and start forcing yourself in to this as a routine, this is because your digestive system is put into active mode which then keeps you up for longer.
- Choosing a luxury bedding that is soft, smooth and feels luxurious on your skin such as the amazingly TShirt bedding 100% knitted cotton can help you drift away that little bit easier.
- Do not force sleep – If you get into bed and find yourself unable to sleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and find a relaxing activity such as listening to soothing music or reading a book. This helps to reinforce the bed as a place for sleeping rather than wakefulness, which makes it easier for your brain to associate it with sleep.
- Muscle relaxation techniques such as a hot bath can help with improving sleep quality and your sleep cycles so you fall asleep quickly.
Can you die from Insomnia?
Death from insomnia is associated with rare genetic conditions and abnormalities that over time results in a progressive illness that could cause one to die of sleep deprivations.
The most common illness that can cause death by sleep deprivation is Fatal Familial Insomnia, a genetic illness in which a person loses the capacity for deep sleep, lapses into dreamy sleep from quiet wakefulness and has difficulty staying or falling asleep.
It is a relentless progressive illness whose symptoms include rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, excessive salivation, tremors and eventually coma and death. Persons who develop the illness will typically die from between 8-72 months after they report the first symptoms.
Other than that, insomnia or difficulty falling asleep can only negatively affect the day to day functioning and quality of life of a person. Notably, death could occur as a result of accidents due to lack of proper judgement; especially when operating machinery or traffic accidents.
What is the longest anyone has ever stayed awake?
The longest anyone has ever stayed awake was 264.4 hours or roughly 11 days 25 minutes. The feat was achieved in 1964 by high school student Randy Gardner of San Diego California. The previous record has been held by Honolulu resident and disc jockey Tom Rounds, who had set the record by staying awake for 260 hours.
What happens to the brain when you don’t sleep?
According to a recent research study in the Journal of Nature Medicine, sleep deprivation makes it hard for brain cells to communicate effectively.
This is the reason you might feel sluggish the morning after a restless night as the brain cells are tired and can’t send messages fast enough. This could result in short term mental lapses that could affect visual perception and memory.
In the study, it was found that neurons fired weaker, responded more slowly, and their transmissions lacked the usual rapid reaction times when the participants were deprived of sleep.
This could explain why you would find it so hard to concentrate or think after having a sleepless night. According to the study, sleep deprivation affected most the regions of the brain that typically exhibited a lot of brain activity when a person is asleep.
These are regions normally associated with perception and memory. As such, these regions would have mental lapses when a person is subjected to sleep deprivation even as other areas of the brain would be completely fine.
The effects of sleep deprivation were compared to those of persons who have had too much to drink and have less control over perception and concentration.
How long can you go without sleep before hallucinating?
You can go up to 72 hours without sleep, after which you will start experiencing significant deficits in perception, motivation, and concentrations. It is at about the 72-hour mark that you will start experiencing hallucinations that usually are related to the environment in which you are in.
For instance, if you are on guard duty, you may be convinced that there is someone with a rifle in the nearby forest waiting to sneak up on you when there is nothing there but shadows and branches.
Hallucinations are a dangerous side effect of insomnia. Some of the observed forms of hallucinations include:
- Imagined sounds such as hearing voices.
- Seeing things creepy that are not there.
- Sensing of unfounded smells.
- Feeling as if someone is touching you which are not true.
every person has their own unique causes and experiences of insomnia. Sleep being a key ingredient of overall good health; it is important to take necessary measures to prevent suffering from insomnia.
From your environment to food intake and medications, it helps to be acutely aware of what could be causing your lack of sleep and make quick remedies. When mentally counting sheep is not helping with your quality of sleep and upsetting your nights rest you need to make the changes.
You can also check out more information from sleep experts at the national sleep foundation website.