Have you ever gone to bed at the right time in the evening but could not find sleep throughout the night? Maybe you succeed in initiating sleep but noticed you could not sustain the sleep. You wake up intermittently during the night and find it hard to go back to sleep. Medically, this condition is referred to as insomnia.
Insomnia is defined as difficulty either falling or staying asleep that is accompanied by daytime impairments related to those sleep troubles.American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2014). The International Classification of Sleep Disorders – Third Edition (ICSD-3). Darien, IL. https://aasm.org/
Insomnia is a relatively common condition and if you are experiencing it, you are not alone. According to a survey of 4,023 adults in the United States, published by Consumer Reports, 27 percent of respondents had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights and 68 percent (an estimated 164 million Americans) struggle with sleep at least once a week.Why Americans Can’t Sleep – Consumer Reports
Another study conducted by Lu Li et al, among 82,055 Chinese University students in 2016 showed that a significant number of these students had short sleep duration and unhealthy sleep patterns including late bedtime after midnight (23.8 percent), sleep latency of more than 30 minutes (25.5 percent) and sleep duration less than 6 hours a day (8.4 percent).Lu, li et al. (2017). Sleep Duration and Sleep Patterns in Chinese University Students: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis. Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American … Continue reading
Also, according to a study by Natana Raj, an analyst with BCC Research in Wellesley, Mass, sleep aids and remedies accounted for an estimated $41 billion in 2015, a cost that was predicted to further increase to $52 billion by 2020. In 2020, Americans actually spent $825,559,397 on melatonin supplements alone, already surpassing the predicted cost of sleep aids/remedies for that year.Ibid. Why Americans Can’t Sleep
Some Benefits of Sleep
These are some reasons why talking about lack of sleep, its causes, and how you can stay asleep all night is totally worth it.
- Sleep keeps your heart healthy
- Sleep reduces stress
- Sleep enhances memory
- Sleep can help control weight gain
- Sleep may reduce the risk of depression
- Sleep helps your brain clean up
- Sleep helps the body heals
- Sleep can help maximize athletic performance
- Sleep reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, and cancer
- Sleep enhances your immunity
- Sleep reduces inflammation
- Sleep enhances your emotions and social interactions
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia or the inability to stay asleep all night has been shown to result from several causes. These can be broadly categorized into medical causes, psychological causes, drug-related, stress-related causes, etc.
Medical causes of sleeplessness are those related to another acute or chronic medical condition that can affect one’s quality and quantity of sleep.
Psychological causes relate to primary sleep disorders that may be due to imbalances in the number of regulatory sleep neurochemicals in the brain.
Drug-related causes are due to the side effects of prescription drugs, substance drug use, or drug abuse or misuse.
And stress-related causes of insomnia are those that result from extreme stress on the body that alters the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Generally, the primary causes of insomnia are often related to the sleep environment. To get the best sleep, you need to optimize your sleep environment to facilitate or enhance falling asleep and staying asleep all night long. The parameters to optimize the sleep environment fall under a concept known as sleep hygiene.
How To Stay Asleep All Night/Sleep Hygiene
Here are some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep and stay asleep all night.
1. Check for medical issues
An underlying medical illness can be the cause of your insomnia, in which case you may have to treat the medical condition before the sleeplessness resolves. If you notice that you are readily able to fall asleep but later wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to go back to sleep, several medical conditions could be responsible. Examples include sleep apnea, cardiovascular diseases like cardiac insufficiency, febrile illnesses, diabetes, an enlarged prostate gland that is obstructing urinary flow, etc.
Psychiatric conditions can also cause problems with sleep. This can be from primary insomnia disorders that are not due to any other cause or medical condition. Other examples include; periodic limb movement disorder (a condition where your legs jerk every 20-40 seconds during sleep), anxiety disorders with characteristic racing heart and breathlessness on mid-sleep awakening,
Common issues that may not be related to a medical illness can also cause the inability to stay asleep at night. For example, a significant proportion of women during their perimenopausal period have been shown to experience insomnia or an inability to sleep without interruption during the night. This was according to a study done in 2017.Ciano, C., King, T. S., Wright, R. R., Perlis, M., & Sawyer, A. M. (2017). Longitudinal Study of Insomnia Symptoms Among Women During Perimenopause. Journal of obstetric, gynecologic, and … Continue reading
If any of these is present, your physician will be able to address them so that you can begin to have a lasting sleep at night.
2. Get rid of disturbing thoughts
As simple as this might seem, disturbing thoughts are among the most common causes of insomnia in adults. Worries easily interfere with sleep as much as it does with other bodily functions, and to be able to initiate sleep and stay asleep all night, you may have to get rid of the disturbing thoughts.
Here is one technique that has always worked for me when trying to fall asleep. It’s simple: just close your eyes while lying on your bed and try to evade all possible thoughts. Don’t think anything at the moment and try not to focus on random thoughts that might come into your mind.
Getting rid of disturbing thoughts can be difficult, but I will attempt to list a few things that might help you block off disturbing thoughts as follows;
- Ensure you fully conclude your thoughts before going to bed
- Write your plans for the next day on a notepad before you go to sleep.
- Listen to calm, soothing music.
- If you are having trouble sleeping, you should avoid checking the news or using your mobile phone at least 30 minutes before you sleep.
According to a survey done among 500 sleep disorder patients, music has been reported as an effective sleep aid. Jespersen et al demonstrated through another study that music improved sleep quality among patients suffering from insomnia. More interestingly, music unlike many other sleep aids is almost entirely free.
3. Practice good sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is an umbrella term for all precautions to observe, the dos and don’ts before going to bed to have the best quality sleep. they involve both behavioral and environmental factors.
Behavioral modifications that are included in sleep hygiene include the following:
- Adequate physical activity during the day, at least 150 minutes a week.
- Avoid sleeping during the day if you want to sleep well at night.
- Observe a regular sleep routine.
- Avoiding food and drinks containing caffeine that may affect sleep.
- Avoiding alcohol consumption.
- Eating a lighter and high-fat content meal at dinner, etc.
Environmental modification is a component of sleep hygiene. The following environmental changes will help you get to sleep and stay asleep all night if you are having trouble with that.
- Avoiding noises.
- Adequate ventilation.
- Adequate room space; avoid congestion.
- Good mattress and bedding.
- Avoid bright light exposure.
4. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of behavioral therapy used in psychiatry. Generally, behavioral therapy involves a systematic process of modifying behavior using psychiatric tools and methods without the use of drugs. In CBT, the patient is sensitized through specific methods about a negative behavior and is encouraged to make efforts to change it by himself, through positive or negative reinforcement.
CBT has shown effectiveness for several psychiatric conditions and has been considered the gold standard for treating insomnia.
Certain sleep clinics do offer CBT. You can visit the hospital for a specialist in the area of CBT if the other interventions above do not produce substantial results.
5. Sleep medications (for short-term only)
One effective way to have good sleep all night is by using sleep medications. They are very effective and are readily available over the counter. However, both over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications carry some health risks if used for extended periods of time. Apart from impairing wakefulness and physical activity, several over-the-counter sleep aids such as diphenhydramine – Benadryl, Sominex (an antihistamine drug), and doxylamine – Unisom (another antihistamine) have been shown to affect cognitive ability in older patients.Drugs with anticholinergic properties, cognitive decline, and dementia in an elderly general population: the 3-city study – PMC Long-term prescription sedatives/sleep aids have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and death.Association between Sedative-hypnotics and Subsequent Cancer in Patients with and without Insomnia: A 14-year Follow-up Study in Taiwan – PMC
Sleep medications help to induce and sustain lasting sleep during the night and day, but their use is recommended for a period no greater than two months. This is also because they often do not address the primary cause of the sleeplessness if it is due to something else. Hence, by masking the initial problem, can cause even more harm than good in the long run.
While they are being used to offer some help in finding a lasting and refreshing sleep, the major objective should be to address the primary cause, if any. This short-term use of sleep medications should also be under the doctor’s supervision.
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or sustain sleep. It is a common problem worldwide and the interventions in the posts can be helpful in addressing the problem of poor sleep and help you stay asleep all night.
|↑1||American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2014). The International Classification of Sleep Disorders – Third Edition (ICSD-3). Darien, IL. https://aasm.org/|
|↑2||Why Americans Can’t Sleep – Consumer Reports|
|↑3||Lu, li et al. (2017). Sleep Duration and Sleep Patterns in Chinese University Students: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis. Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 13. 10.5664/jcsm.6760.|
|↑4||Ibid. Why Americans Can’t Sleep|
|↑5||Ciano, C., King, T. S., Wright, R. R., Perlis, M., & Sawyer, A. M. (2017). Longitudinal Study of Insomnia Symptoms Among Women During Perimenopause. Journal of obstetric, gynecologic, and neonatal nursing: JOGNN, 46(6), 804–813. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jogn.2017.07.011|
|↑6||Drugs with anticholinergic properties, cognitive decline, and dementia in an elderly general population: the 3-city study – PMC|
|↑7||Association between Sedative-hypnotics and Subsequent Cancer in Patients with and without Insomnia: A 14-year Follow-up Study in Taiwan – PMC|
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