"A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing."
-- John Keats
Is bedtime a struggle for you? Do you have problems falling asleep? Do you wake up several times throughout the night? Insomnia affects millions of people worldwide. In the US, more than 30 percent of the population are suffering from this sleeping disorder. Insomnia is characterized by difficulties in falling and staying asleep, and waking up early in the morning.
Insomnia can last for a few days to a couple of months. Acute insomnia is a temporary difficulty in sleeping that can be caused by an illness, change in time zone, and hormone fluctuations such as during pregnancy. Chronic insomnia is a regular sleeping problem that occurs over a few months. Both types of insomnia have repercussions on one's health and safety.
What are the causes of insomnia?
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Whether you're a teen or an adult, you are at risk of being an insomniac. Stress and anxiety are considered as the most common causes of this sleeping disorder. You may be facing pressure at home, in school or in the office. Stress can also be due to a traumatic experience such as the death of a loved one, divorce or accident. Working in shifting schedule can mess one's body clock, resulting to insomnia.
People with unhealthy lifestyle habits such as poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and smoking are at risk of insomnia. The unregulated use of electronic devices can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
The effects of insomnia and your well-being
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Insomnia is the leading cause of sleep deprivation especially among students. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers aged 14 to 17 should be sleeping for eight to 10 hours per night while adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should be getting seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep daily. Older adults aged 65 and above are recommended seven to eight hours of quality zzz's. Generally, if you're not meeting these sleep ranges, you're sleep deprived.
Insufficient sleep can cause obesity, hypertension, and heart diseases. The Mayo Clinic adds that it can also result to lower performance in school and at work, increased risk of road accidents, mental disorders and long-term diseases. "People with insomnia report a lower quality of life compared to people who are sleeping well," the Mayo Clinic noted.
Know how to combat insomnia
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Chronic insomnia can be due to an underlying medical condition. If you're regularly experiencing sleeping troubles, it's highly advisable that you seek professional medical help. Long-term insomnia, which has been ingrained over months, requires a serious lifestyle check. Do you drink coffee near bedtime? Are you a chainsmoker? Does your diet involve large quantities of carbohydrates and calories? A healthier lifestyle is key in better sleep. Keep in mind that the three pillars of health--proper nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep--go hand-in-hand.
Your sleeping environment also plays a role in your sleeping pattern. The body can relax better in a cool environment. Sleep experts recommend lowering the bedroom temperature to 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit each night. Sleeping in stark darkness helps maintain the body clock while light, whether from fluorescent lamps or smartphones, can keep the brain active throughout the night. A memory foam that relieves muscle pain and supports the body's natural alignment can also help combat insomnia.
There are a lot of things we tend to neglect in our everyday life. Sleep and insomnia, sadly, are important matters that we easily dismiss. We have become too accustomed to our fast-paced lifestyle that many of us consider sleep as a luxury rather than a need. If you're suffering from insomnia, whether acute or chronic, remember that you're placing your well-being at risk. Seek medical help as soon as possible.