Chronic insomnia is a dangerous sleep disturbance that can occur as a side effect of stress and anxiety. Let’s see what we can do about it!
The human brain has two main cycles (awake and asleep) that alternate (when one is on the other one is off) and create a healthy balance. In the old days, these cycles used to be regulated by sunlight.
Our organism responds to lack of sunlight by producing hormones that induce sleepiness and boosts energy levels in the morning, when sunlight returns.
Research suggests that people who manage to keep up with the natural circadian rhythms manage to maintain their general health and well-being at high levels.
However, with the development of technology and the increasing stress in our daily lives, we are no longer dependent on sunlight to stay awake.
Artificial light and long work hours have disturbed our sleep cycle, resulting in a variety of sleep-related disorders.
Among these disorders, insomnia may be one of the most common as it affects one in four Americans each year.
Given these statistics, we decided to have a closer look at what causes insomnia and what you can do to improve your sleep hygiene.
What Causes Insomnia?
First of all, let’s start by understanding the difference between a few restless nights and chronic insomnia.
Specialists consider you are suffering from chronic insomnia when you fail to fall and stay asleep at least three nights per week on a three months or longer time interval.
So, if you’re just going through some tough times and sleep eludes you, there may not be cause for worry. Still, it’s best to track your sleep habits and employ techniques that encourage sleep.
Since it can be easy to confuse the acute state of insomnia (short periods of sleep disturbance) with the chronic state, here are some symptoms to consider:
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep;
- You don’t feel rested even if you manage to get some sleep;
- Fatigue or low energy;
- Difficulty to concentrate on daily tasks;
- Mood disturbance (irritability, anxiety, heightened sensitivity, and more);
- Difficulty managing personal relationships.
According to scientists, there is a cornucopia of causes for insomnia, but the most prevalent ones are:
- Medical – a condition that disturbs the brain’s natural on/off cycle;
- Or environmental – factors that influence your level of anxiety and keep you awake.
As such, insomnia can be caused by worrying too much, stress at work, crying infants, asthma, arthritis, neurological conditions, an uncomfortable mattress, and more.
Ideally, once you’ve identified the main cause(s), it will be easier to employ the necessary actions to get better sleep.
3 Ways To Improve Sleep Quality
We don’t have to remind you that a good night sleep will fill you with amazing energy in the morning! You’ll feel happier, healthier, and shinier each day and your productivity levels will soar.
Still, there are times when, even though you are not suffering from an illness, it can seem impossible to get to that state. And this is where you need to start focusing on improving your general well-being.
Research has shown that physical activity, meditation, dinner with the family or friends, and any other habits that unplug you from the daily hamster wheel of work and worry are beneficial for the overall sleep quality.
1. A Better Sleep Environment
Your bedroom and its contents play a particularly important role in the quality of your sleep.
Indeed, your mattress can make the difference between you being happy and rested in the morning or being achy and unproductive all day long.
This is an area where independent research is required. Reviews on Mattress-Guides, who cover popular options like the Saatva mattress, are a good starting point.
The right bed will support your favorite sleeping position, align the spine, and keep the body temperature at ideal settings.
2. Physical Activity
Of the handful of studies that look into this matter results that people who manage to keep a moderately active lifestyle don’t have that many sleep-related problems.
In fact, even a mild aerobic exercise such as walking (a few hours before bedtime) can help you fall faster asleep and stay so for longer.
However, high-intensity training is not recommended too close to your bedtime because it excites the senses and gets the heart pumping.
Overall, consistent moderate physical activity is highly recommended for good health and general well-being.
3. Take Care Of Your Mind
As we already stated, one of the leading causes of insomnia is anxiety. We tend to worry about factors that are out of our control and this leads to a constant state of stress.
As a result, we forget to unplug and disconnect, and this is translated into high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, increased cholesterol levels, and more.
Learn to slow down and control your mind by practicing yoga, Tai Chi, or meditating.
If these aren’t your cup of tea, there’s always reading, listening to a podcast or shooting music, taking a bath, and more.
The secret is to create habits that keep you away from a phone or TV screen and lets you be mindful of the present moment.
There was a time when the brightest minds of our world tried to reduce the time spent asleep, as it was considered a waste of time.
However, now we know better and understand that snoozing is crucial for a healthy human being. So, if you feel your sleep quality is lacking, make sure to take action now!