Definition of insomnia
Before we answer, ‘how can I stop my insomnia?’
Insomnia is a sleep disorder. If you suffer with insomnia, it is difficult to fall asleep, to stay asleep, or both.
When you have insomnia you won’t wake feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep. This is tricky because it has a ton of knock-on effects because of the resultant fatigue.
Of all sleep disorders, insomnia is the most common. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that one-third of adults report symptoms. But, what’s more worrying, is that there are between 6 to 10 percent of us who have symptoms of insomnia which are severe enough for us to get a diagnosis of ‘insomnia disorder’.
The clinical diagnosis of this disorder is when you have trouble falling asleep. And staying asleep.
- Sleep difficulties for at least three nights a week. This must last a minimum of three months.
- Sleep difficulties create a major distress or functional difficulties in your life.
Let’s investigate these types of insomnia in more detail.
There are many causes of insomnia. And it links them to your particular type of sleeplessness.
You may suffer with short-term insomnia. This is an acute condition often created by a spike in stress from e.g. an upsetting or traumatic event. It can even come from changes to your sleep habits if e.g. you’re travelling a lot with work.
Chronic insomnia is a more continued issue. It lasts for at least three months. This is usually secondary to another problem, for example:
- A medical condition which causes e.g. pain which keeps you awake. Many of our clients with lower back pain or sciatica suffer with this.
- Psychological issues also play a part. If you have anxiety or depression, they wake up at night when the world is lacking distraction.
- Substance use including cocaine and alcohol stimulate us and prevent sleep
Risk factors for a reduced ability to sleep
Some people are more naturally pre-disposed to not being able to sleep well than others, although it may occur at any age. Insomnia is more likely to affect females than males.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)Trusted Source, other health concerns increase your chances of suffering with sleep disruption.
- top levels of stress
- emotional disorders, such as depression or distress related to a life event
- lower income leads to stress
- travelling to different time zones and changing shift patterns
- Sedentary lifestyle means your joints may cause you pain. Obesity and cardiovascular disease.
- hormonal shifts such as menopause.
You’ll know if you’re experiencing insomnia because you’ll report one of these three symptoms.
- waking up too early
- not feeling refreshed when you wake
- Trouble falling asleep. Or staying asleep.
These symptoms of insomnia then lead to other symptoms, including:
- mood changes
- irritability and difficulty concentrating
You can get pharmaceutical drugs to help you sleep, but there are also nonpharmaceutical treatments for insomnia. Always speak to your doctor about what treatments are appropriate for you.
A combination of techniques may work best to cure your insomnia. It depends on your personal circumstances. For instance, if your issues are stress, anxiety or depression, then your focus may well be different to someone suffering because of pain from arthritis.
We’ve adopted behaviours that interfere with sleep and cause us to lie awake at night.
Some sleep hygiene routines which may help cure your inability to sleep could be:
- avoid caffeinated beverages within a few hours of bedtime
- Give exercise near bedtime a wide berth. Whilst exercise is good, it’s also a stimulant so pick your time.
- minimise the time spent on your bed when you’re not intending to sleep also helps to train your mind that bed is only for sleeping
Home remedies to help stop disturbed sleep
Lifestyle changes, or home remedies are often effective at curing insomnia.
Warm milk and herbal tea such as chamomile are well known natural sleep aids.
Meditation is one of our personal favourites which we use within our reflexology sleep aid and massage for insomnia. We love it because not only does it work, but it’s a natural and drug-free method for treating insomnia.
Meditation is so effective that the Mayo Clinic says that meditation also helps symptoms of conditions that may contribute to insomnia.
- stress and anxiety
- digestive problems and pain
The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin during the sleep cycle. People often take melatonin supplements, hoping to improve their sleep. However, this is also produced naturally by the body during a massage. Hence why the massage for insomnia is such a brilliant choice for many people.
Insomnia and pregnancy
Just like when women head into menopause their sleep cycles can go haywire because of hormones, the same is relevant during pregnancy when insomnia is common. Especially in your first and third trimesters.
It may not be that you can’t sleep per se, more that fluctuating hormones cause you to feel nauseous which prevents sleep. As done the increased need to pee and being generally uncomfortable.
Depending on why you can’t sleep will determine which holistic therapy is best. Reflexology can help with balancing hormones, calming emotional stress and cutting out nausea. Massage helps with being uncomfortable, including cramps.
If you’re looking to change more lifestyle elements that help stop insomnia:
- keeping active during your pregnancy stops you seizing up
- maintaining a healthy diet improves constipation, and gut issues
- it might sound odd as you’re in the loo so much already, but staying well-hydrated stops you from swelling up, improving your comfort
- maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
- practising relaxation techniques such as meditation and holistic therapies during the day as we’ve described above
We would always advise that you make any lifestyle changes such as increased exercise with your doctor first though as everyone’s starting point and body are different and it’s important to do only what is safe for your personal circumstances.
Types of insomnia
Distinct ways to characterise insomnia are below. Please note that some of these types of insomnia overlap.
Causes of disturbed sleep
Your inability to sleep can have either a primary or secondary cause
Primary insomnia is when another condition does not cause your insomnia. Your issues such as stress, work, bereavement cause these changes in your sleep patterns.
Secondary insomnia (often classed as comorbid insomnia) is the opposite. An underlying health condition or lifestyle habit, such as depression or anxiety, are playing with your mind at bed time.
Duration of insomnia
Short-term (acute) types of insomnia include situational insomnia and episodic insomnia. We know. It’s getting technical! Let’s explain.
Situational insomnia (acute) and lasts only for days, sometimes up to a few weeks. But, episodic insomnia lasts for one to three months, so it goes on for longer.
Layered on top of this, there is chronic (long lasting) forms.
These include persistent insomnia and recurrent insomnia.
Persistent insomnia lasts for at least three months.
Recurrent insomnia doesn’t continue for as long. But you will have at least two episodes of insomnia (episodic insomnia) over one year.
Symptoms of insomnia
We’ve discussed symptoms of insomnia in more detail on different pages, so check them out.
These include insomnia and depression and anxiety.
Hopefully we’ve answered your questions, ‘How can I stop my insomnia?’ To book in for one of our insomnia sessions, please read the pages as detailed above under the headings to establish which holistic therapy will best help your personal conditions. To get in touch, text us on 07757 946023.