Insomnia: How to Fall Asleep
Insomnia is a Common Sleep Disorder
Insomnia - the battle to fall asleep fast - has been plaguing humankind since the beginning of time. When you're the one experiencing insomnia, and you're laying there unable to fall asleep, it feels like you yourself have been awake since the beginning of time. Lost sleep or sleepless nights can be very frustrating and effect every area of life.
Symptoms of insomnia include experiencing a hard time falling asleep or going back to sleep once awake, fatigue, feeling tired after sleep or feeling sleepy during the day. Other symptoms may be waking up very early in the morning or several times during the night. You may also experience irritability, have difficulty concentrating or experience problems with memory.
Typically, short-term acute insomnia is not something to cause you any great concern - unless it becomes chronic and begins to interfere with daily life, your job or your relationships with those around you.
Insomnia Treatments May Help You to Fall Asleep Faster
Acute or Chronic Insomnia
Acute insomnia is short-term, usually lasting over just a few days or a couple of weeks, and then disappears quickly. It may also come and go with recurring, short episodes over a period of time separated by long periods of normal sleep. Typically, if you experience symptoms more than three or four nights over a 30-day period, your insomnia would be considered acute.
Chronic insomnia is identified by the aforementioned symptoms lasting night after night over an extended period. Folks who suffer from chronic insomnia may become susceptible to any number of health conditions including depression, weight gain, anxiety and congestive heart failure.
Some Common Myths About Insomnia
It's All in Your Head. Insomnia is not usually caused by psychological problems although these can be a contributing factor which lead to sleeplessness. Typically, when you can't sleep, there is some outside, physical factors involved. For example, one of the more common causes of insomnia is stress. Other factors that may interfere with sleep include side effects of certain drugs, illness, chronic pain or sleep apnea.
Myth 1: Alcohol Helps You Fall Asleep Faster
I have heard this advice from many people in my life: take a drink to help you fall asleep fast. While alcohol is a depressant and may help you relax and eventually fall asleep, it is not a good remedy for sleep.
As alcohol runs through your system, it may cause fitful, restless sleep. Sometimes it can make you wake up earlier and actually contribute to more sleeplessness.
Myth 2: Watching TV Helps You Fall Asleep
When I can't sleep, I used to get up and watch television to help me fall asleep. I was surprised to find out that this was actually not an effective treatment for sleeplessness. I always wondered why I was so tired when I got up off the sofa.
Turns out new research has revealed that computers and television engage the brain on various higher-level activity and inhibit melatonin levels in the brain. Melatonin helps you fall asleep faster. Studies indicate that watching TV or viewing a computer screen actually inhibits sleep.
Myth 3: You Can Catch Up on Lost Sleep
How many college students believe this to be true - I did. What really happened was that my body was just better able to handle this sort of thing when I was 30 years younger.
Keeping irregular hours, sleeping less than you're used to and trying to catch up on the weekends may actually be upsetting your sensitive internal body clock. Irregular patterns, lack of sleep or loss of sleep will likely make it harder to fall asleep at your next bedtime.
Myth 4: Pills and Sleep Aids are Totally Safe
I learned a long time ago that anything you put into your body to alter it's chemistry is going to have some effect on the body. Sleeping pills and the so-called "safe" and "non-habit forming" over-the-counter sleep medications available today will likely always have potential side effects including the risk for dependency.
Most sleepless folks go to the drug store before they go to their doctor. Always talk to your physician or healthcare provider before taking any medication - even "safe" OTC sleep aids. Resolving or addressing other underlying causes of insomnia is always a better approach.
Best Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Fast
Tip 1: If You Can't Sleep, Get Up
That's right, getting out of bed may actually help you fall sleep faster when youfinally get back into bed. If you lay in bed for 30 minutes or more, it may be better to get out of bed and engage in a quiet activity like reading or listening to your favorite relaxing music.
Perhaps you could make a cup of Chamomile tea to help you relax. I discovered that the worst thing to do is stay in bed, tossing and turning until I would eventually fall asleep. Doing this only teaches your body and mind to associate your bed with sleeplessness. Get up or you're likely to just watch the clock and become more and more frustrated.
Tip 2: Exercise May Help You Sleep
Especially regular exercise - but don't work put right before you go to bed. The best time to exercise is a few hours before you hit the sack. Exercise has been proven to help people fall asleep faster and get a more restful night's sleep. Moderation is key, you don't want to exercise so strenuously that you might experience pain in bed.
The equivalent of a 30-minute walk each day can make a huge difference in how fast you fall asleep and how restful and regenerating your sleep can be. Exercise also reduces stress and anxiety - two big killers of a good night's sleep.
Tip 3: Train Your Body and Mind to Sleep Better
Yes, it is possible to actually train yourself to fall sleep faster and stay asleep longer. It's all about mind/body association and human bodies crave consistency. The trick is to develop a routine for bedtime that works for you. Everybody is different so you will need to try a few things to find out what helps you fall asleep fast. Some folks read for an hour or so before bed.
My spouse sprays the pillow and bed sheets with lavender. A friend in college used to spend about 30-40 minutes in meditation. Another friend spends some time in quiet prayer just before turning in. The point is, all of these people have found a ritual that works for them. These regular rituals signal their mind and body that sleep time is on the way.
Get Help for Your Insomnia
Insomnia is not likely to go away on its own - you're going to need to take some kind of action. A good first step is to consult with your doctor and get a full checkup to determine if there are any underlying challenges, potential health problems or other hidden issues.
Next, try to eliminate any of the known sleep inhibitors - television in the bedroom, computer time before bed, irregular schedule, stress, etc. Make your bedroom a comfortable and inviting place to rest - change to dim lighting, remove the TV or computer, get super soft Egyptian cotton sheets, etc.
Finally, try out some of the ways people use to help them fall sleep fast - such as a sound machine, soothing music or learning to focus on internal thought processes to help you fall asleep faster. Educate yourself on the topic by taking a look at some of the books or other items suggested below.
Determine which ways work best for you and develop your own personal sleep ritual.
Products That May Help You With Your Insomnia...
Helpful Links to Find Out More...
- Insomnia Treatment - OTC, Medications, and Supplements on MedicineNet.com
Learn about insomnia, and insomnia treatment including over-the-counter medicine, herbal supplements, and prescription medication for this condition.
- Can’t Sleep? Insomnia Causes, Cures, and Treatments
Having trouble sleeping? Find tips and simple strategies that can help you beat insomnia for good.
- Insomnia: Treatments and drugs - MayoClinic.com
Insomnia — Comprehensive review covers symptoms, causes, treatment for this sleeping problem.