ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Recover from Insomnia and Lost Sleep

Updated on December 27, 2014
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy has written about health and wellness for more than five years. She is the former manager of two large clinics in Austin, Texas.

Can You "Make Up" Lost Hours of Sleep?

Sleep deprivation can cause many health issues.
Sleep deprivation can cause many health issues. | Source

Sleep Deprivation Can Harm You

There are few things more miserable than a night spent tossing and turning.

Aside from the annoyances, though, your health can suffer in many ways if sleepless nights are the norm for you rather than a rarity.

If you suffer from a loss of sleep, and it if has lasted more than just a few nights, you should examine the possible causes and correct the problems before you begin seeing health issues.

For many people, a few easy tips can bring back the snoozes and help you awake feeling rested. Others, though, might need medical help either temporarily or longterm.

Either way, tackle the problem before it creates issues with weight gain, tension, daytime fatigue and even worse symptoms.

How Do You Recover Lost Sleep?

Anyone who has gone several nights without sleep knows you indeed feel better once you're finally able to relax and drift off to dreamland.

But many experts say there's no such thing as 'getting back' the sleep you have lost. This doesn't mean you can't recover and move forward with energy, it just means your body won't somehow 'restore' the sleep you didn't get on those nights when you wanted to scream and throw your pillow.

You can, however, get on a new sleep schedule and either retrain your body to sleep soundly or find solutions, in most cases, for insomnia.

How a Lack of Sleep Hurts Us

What About You?

Do you have trouble sleeping?

See results

What Causes Insomnia?

If you're still playing detective to find out why you're not sleeping, start by looking for obvious issues.

Did your surroundings in your bedroom change in some manner? Something as simple as adding a television (which, in the long run, may not serve you all that well in a bedroom, but that's another story) or a digital clock can create havoc for your sleep.

Almost every electronic device now has an LED lighted clock and panel. These lights seem unobtrusive, but researchers have decided this tiny bit of extra light during the hours when we normally sleep can cause problems.

Many pilots (who travel through various timezones and constantly work on 'catching up' on their sleep) habitually cover the LED display on hotel clocks. Actually, I do that as well - I learned years ago that those blue or red numerals kept me awake at night. So I now cover the LED displays on televisions or clocks in my bedroom and when I travel. It's made a world of difference!

Have you started watching a new program in the evening? Or spending a bit more time on the computer before you go to bed. That concentrated dose of light, from the screen, does something to your internal clock and helps keep you awake even after you shut things down and hit the bed.

Examine your eating habits and decide whether a change in timing or menu choices might be the problem.

Are you spending hours in bed going over the day at work, or the big project that's coming up? Or are you fretting over relationship issues? Maybe it's time to get counseling on stress relief, or to make a list of things you'll deal with the next morning. Scarlett O'Hara was no dummy when she reminded herself, "Tomorrow's another day!"

What are your exercise habits? Too much exercise late in the day can keep you awake. And, in contrast, not getting enough exercise can also interrupt your sleep patterns.

If you've gone over these suggestions and you're still spending time staring at the ceiling each night, consider asking your physician for advice. He or she may recommend a sleep study, or suggest using a mild sedative for a short period of time.

How to Retrain Your Body to Fall Asleep Fast

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Once you find out the core problem, you'll need to manage your habits and health in order to get back to a pattern of sleep that restores you each night.

If you aren't exercising, add exercise to your day, even in small doses. This will help your body's circulation and increase your daytime energy. Which, in turn, will make your body want to relax and rest when you hug the pillow at night.

Make your bedroom your haven of rest, and consider moving distractions such as televisions, computers or other brain drains into another room.

Don't read in bed - this keeps your eyes open and requires a nearby light. Read in another room, and when you're tired, put the book down and tell your body it's time for bed.

If you're tossing and turning, go ahead and get up for a while to see if you can reset your body and allow sleepiness to return.

Meditation and yoga have helped many people learn to put their minds in a peaceful place and rid their thoughts of nerve-wracking distractions.

Pamper yourself in the evening with a hot soak in the tub, or scented oils, and buy the most luxurious sheets you can afford to make your bed all the more tempting. One word of caution: If candles are one of your favorite ways to create a relaxing mood, DO NOT leave them burning while you go to bed. Too dangerous. In every way.

Make your bedtime a serene moment in the day, and give your body some signals that tells it to let go of outside worries, and you'll have a good chance of sleeping like a baby again sometime soon.

Comments

Submit a Comment
New comments are not being accepted on this article at this time.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    LOL! I think you and I suffer from the same self-inflicted insomnia diagnosis, Wilderness! Whenever I lose sleep, I try to avoid taking a nap the next day (unless I have to drive my car), so I can really be ready to sleep the next night. It's difficult for me to nap, so that part is easy, actually. Hope you get off the forums and hit the hay earlier tonight!

  • wilderness profile image

    Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

    A useful hub! I occasionally go short on sleep - usually playing too late on the HP forums :-). This might help - I would never have thought of exercising the next day, for instance.

    As far as insomnia, I make it a point to never read in bed or watch TV. Bed is only (well, almost only :-) ) for sleeping and that tends to make it a habit thing - going to bed means it's time to sleep, not put the mind in high gear.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I've also had trouble getting my thoughts to shut up and let me sleep at times, Ryanjhoe - thanks for sharing your tips on how you've handled it!

  • ryanjhoe profile image

    ryanjhoe 4 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

    If I have so many thoughts or being stressful, usually I have difficulty to sleep at night. I change my habbit since I got panic attacks eating healthy food and exercise regularly. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Zak - and I'm tired just thinking about your busy schedule of shift work combined with two active babies in the house! The one tip that helped me the most personally was to cover all LED lights in my room. That unnatural glow (whether it's blue, red, yellow or whatever) really does things to your body's ability to rest. Best of luck on recapturing your dreamtime!

  • Zakmoonbeam profile image

    Michael Murchie 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

    There is some great advice here. As someone who works alternating shift patterns, and has two daughters under two years old, advice on sleeping is always welcome! Many Thanks Marcy, it was a great read and I am sure to have learned something to help me.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for mentioning Melatonin, Thomas - it's certainly worth pointing out here, I've tried it before, and it did help me fall asleep, but invariably, I would wake up a few hours later & not be able to go back to sleep! Bummer! I do hear it works for many people, though. Valerian is another herbal remedy. When I get time, I may add those tips here.

  • Thomas Swan profile image

    Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand

    A very useful hub! You forgot counting sheep! Seriously though, I'm glad you mentioned exercise because that always works for me. With reading in bed, I think it can work if the light you read by is comparatively dim compared to the light you were using earlier. Firstly, this accustoms your eyes to reduced light, queuing the release of melatonin to bring on sleep. Second, it makes the eyes tired because they're working a little harder in the dim light.

    It's probably not for this hub, which concentrates on non-medical cures, but apparently melatonin capsules are available to people who suffer from sleep onset latency. It works for others, but I haven't tried it.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Ooooh - I so know what you mean, Paradigmsearch - I'm guilty of that, too. Although I had trouble sleeping even when I was a hyper little kid. Hope you're able to tackle the problem and get some good snoozes!

  • paradigmsearch profile image

    Person of Interest 4 years ago from USA

    This article helped me. I'm reasonably certain that my lack of exercise is the culprit.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Cathy! Thanks so much for your comments here - I'm so glad you found some ideas that might help you get the rest you need. I like the hot bath idea, too (or even a hot shower) - it relaxes you and helps release muscle tension. When I travel, the biggest help for me is to cover up any sort of light in the room.

    Hope you get some rest soon!

  • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

    Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

    This is very informative and timely for me. I have been traveling and am sleep deprived.

    The hot soak in the tub and scented oils, sounds especially apealing. Can't wait!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you, Crystal! I know exactly what you mean about the prolonged fatigue. So glad you like the information here.

  • Crystal Tatum profile image

    Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

    A useful hub and timely one for me as an exhausting work week last week has left me drained. Though I slept a lot this past weekend, I still feel more tired than usual. I really believe what you say about not being able to regain the sleep lost - once I get too tired, it can take weeks for me to get rejuvenated, and then only if I'm able to cut back on commitments and work. Voted up and interesting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh dear - I love seeing your comments here, but at 4am? Take care, Gordon!

  • Gordon Hamilton profile image

    Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

    Hi, Marcy. Sitting here at 4am typing away but I know you are right. I have a couple of possibilities in place re my major sleep problem and will let you know. Thanks.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Gordon - I do hope you look into the sleep issue. Maybe you can get a sleep study done to see if there are issues you're not aware of just yet? It's crucial to get enough sleep - even though we all need varying amounts to a degree, we do need it. Let me know if you find the right solution?

  • Gordon Hamilton profile image

    Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

    Hi, Marcy. You give a lot of good advice here for sleep loss and there are a couple I haven't tried. Unfortunately, I think I'm just one of those people who is allergic to sleep and will never know more than a couple of hours a night. I dread going to bed - hate it - and most nights don't even bother doing so. I do know how important it is for health, though, so may try a couple of your tips :)

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh, I'm right with you on that, fpherj! I think regular pilgrimages to Ojo would cure a lot of ills! Hope you find out what's keeping you from getting good rest, Dear Friend!

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    aHA!....My Dr did mention apnea......I'm quite sure I don't have restless leg syndrome....but the overall muscle tension is possible. I can see that your hub has prompted me to try to work this out. I was thinking....I'd LOVE to just move right into that Resort in New Mexico you wrote about! That would solve EVERYTHING! LOL.......UP+++

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, fpherj - I've had that problem, too - I'm no doctor, but I wonder if you simply have trouble getting your muscles to relax, even though you're sleeping. Maybe try getting a massage once a month and taking a hot bath at night before bed would help you maximize your sleep?

    The sleep clinic can help, too - you might have restless legs, or have apnea or something that prevents you from getting restful sleep. Let us know what you learn?

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Those LED clocks drive me crazy, cclitgirl! I put up with one for years before I realized it had been a problem!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh, do I know that pattern! A few hours of sleep & then you're awake just after midnight. We might be related or something, raggededge! Thanks for reading, and for the chuckle I got picturing you as a little kid holding your eyelids open!

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Marcy... I have heard that there is no making up for lost sleep....but, as you said, we CAN recover and improve our over all wellness. I don't know how I would describe my issue. I've talked to my Dr. about it and her response was to send me to a sleep clinic. I have to really think about that and learn more about what it is they do.......but,

    I do not have a sleep issue, per say. I fall asleep fine...stay asleep, except for a possible nocturnal potty stop (in my sleep, basically) and I "think" I get enough sleep. BUT....in the a.m, I don't really feel "fully" rested.....I need to fight the urge to go back to bed....while I struggle to snap out of it. So, anyway, enough about my problems.....what do YOU think my problem is??....UP+++

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

    Awesome tips. I know I sometimes I have trouble sleeping - and it's usually because of the clock. I turned the display and it has made a difference. ;)

  • theraggededge profile image

    Bev 4 years ago from Wales

    Oh, this is so me. Lately I've been getting to sleep okay but then waking around 3am. I'm so used to being an insomniac (since childhood - my mother said I used to hold my eyelids open), that I can lay still for hours now, and just convince myself I am resting.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Peg - I'm glad you found helpful suggestions here. I've battled insomnia, too, and it is very frustrating. I know what you mean about the new day in the middle of the night!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    Hi Marcy. Great ideas for a more restful sleep here. I've been plagued with insomnia for a long time so much that it's like a brand new day in the middle of the night. Covering the LED lights that are in the bedroom are a definite helpful hint. Once when we had moved the hubby's home office into the bedroom (telephone wire connection) we would wake up to faxes coming in on the machine. I slept much better when the office went downstairs.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, DDE - yes, you're so right about the bad side effects of sleeplessness. Thanks for reading and commenting here! And sweet dreams!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I think many women go through that, BraveWarrior - it's very uncomfortable & definitely interrupts your rest! I've heard that eating soy foods (tofu, etc) can help, for what that's worth. Let us know if you find some strategies for relief!

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Well you have great ways of recovering from lack of sleep it is of great importance to have a good nights sleep it is not healthy if you lack sleep illnesses creep in

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Marcy, I have trouble staying asleep once I fall asleep. Before I quit my corporate job, I had trouble falling asleep. That has now fallen by the wayside. What I find now, going thru menapause (thank God I don't have someone to kick out of bed!) is constantly moving from one side of the bed to the other and back again when it becomes warm. I have a condition that disallows any type of menapause relief, including over the counter 'herbal' remedies. I'm at risk for breast cancer as the result of my condition, 'atypical hyperplasia'. Anyway, I don't seem to have trouble falling asleep anymore since I quit my job. I have trouble staying asleep because I need a constant cold spot in the bed!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Aviannovice - it sounds like you certainly experienced some varied hours - that would surely play a number with your sleep pattern.

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    You did a very good job on this. For decades I was in police work and worked rotating shifts. Believe me, this affects one later on!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Good plan, Nettlemere - you are so fortunate you escaped further harm!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, alocsin - these tips have helped me quite a bit. The LED light issue was a surprise, because we have had those clocks, etc. for years. When I go to a hotel, I go around and cover up the clock, the TV display, the tiny light on the thermostat - you name it! Let me know if these ideas help!

  • Nettlemere profile image

    Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

    Since that night I've never lit another candle in my house Marcy, it gave me such a fright! Now if I want something nicely scented I put a few drops of essential oil on a warm radiator.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I'm going to try some of these suggestions, Marcy, because I often suffer from lack of sleep or not enough hours. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Mr. Happy - thanks for mentioning that! Herbs indeed have powers to relax us - great idea to include it here.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Melovy! You are right about the computer! I chided myself last night for staying at the screen too long to finish this hub - and tossing and turning when I went to bed! I knew better! Thanks for your comments and votes!

  • Mr. Happy profile image

    Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Good tips here. Not much I would add except to say that herbs can always help-out, in terms of sleeping. And not only the ones which are smoked, haha! ... A simple tea made from chamomile flowers can act as a natural sleeping pill.

    Thank You for the write.

    Cheers!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh, Nettlemere - you gave me chills to picture that scene! How fortunate you awoke before it got out of control (more than it already was!). Thanks for reinforcing the safety issues!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Debbie - I confess I envy your ability to sleep easily and readily! You are fortunate! Glad you enjoyed the hub!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, PaisleyGal - insomnia can even affect children! Many people don't realize itscnot normal to be awake for hours every night. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Deb - that's an interesting study, and I believe it! I had a serious period of sleeplessness that affected my health considerably. Great to meet you here, too!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Kamalrsh! Hope the hub helps you get some sweet dreams!

  • Melovy profile image

    Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

    I always seem to feel tired at this time of year (it gets so dark here.) And for various reasons I have not been getting enough sleep lately - started with a sick child and then just seemed to go on. I do cover LED lights, and I also noticed a while ago that exercise is important, so try to get some most day. But can see it's time I switched the computer off earlier at night and had a relaxing hour before bedtime. It's just so tempting to stay up late and chat online to people in the States, but it's time to stop!

    Useful article! Voted up!

  • Nettlemere profile image

    Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

    Very useful and sensible suggestions - I'm glad you put in the candle warning. I fell asleep with a candle lit and woke up to a roaring which was the sound of the candle tin going up in flames and catching the wallpaper!

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    Hey Marcy great hub.. I don't have any trouble sleeping.. unless I have money problems on my brain.. but I have a great husband that takes that off my shoulders. but ever once in a while I may get a little worried. and if its tax time.. I do hate that because i do the taxes.. always scared I am going to make a mistake.. love your hub

    sharing

    Debbie

  • PaisleeGal profile image

    Pat Materna 4 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

    Good article.. one of my best friends has suffered from insomnia for years... Thanks .. voted up..

  • eHealer profile image

    Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

    fascinating hub and very useful. Sleep deprivation was related to major depression in a recent study that I read. The actual mood is affected far more by sleep that an increase in salary. Great hub and very nice to meet you.

    Deb

  • Kamalesh050 profile image

    Kamalesh050 4 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

    Thank you for sharing this EXCELLENT article with very Useful and Interesting tips. Voted Up.

    Best Wishes, Kamalesh

Click to Rate This Article