If you lie awake night after night, staring at the walls while your mind races through a billion different subjects, take solace in that fact that you are not alone. Studies have shown that more than half of adults in the UK struggle with sleep and as many as 36% suffer from chronic insomnia. Nearly 85% of insomnia sufferers report low energy levels and poor concentration, which in turn impacts overall health and well-being. Insomnia is now the most reported mental health complaint in the UK, sufferers complaining of a vicious cycle of poor sleep, anxiety about poor sleep and unhelpful behaviours developed because of it.
What is it?
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night, resulting in a poor and non-restorative sleep. The frustration and anxiety that comes with the lack of sleep have a detrimental impact on all aspects of health and well-being, affecting mood, energy, concentration and productivity as well as increasing the risk of long-term issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
There are several types of insomnia:
Short term/acute insomnia – Lasting up to a few days, acute insomnia can come about as a result of day to day stresses in your life, particularly if you are enduring a difficult time emotionally. This type of insomnia is usually temporary and can fix itself once the emotional stress has been addressed.
Long-term/chronic insomnia – Usually lasting for extended periods of time, over the course of weeks or months, chronic insomnia requires determination to correct the root causes of the issue.
Sleep onset insomnia – This applies to anyone who struggles to drift off to sleep. People who do not suffer with insomnia tend to fall asleep within 20 minutes, however sleep onset insomnia means that the sufferer takes hours to drift off, if at all.
Sleep maintenance insomnia – This condition affects those who may be able to drift off but have trouble staying asleep, sometimes lying awake trying to get back to sleep or waking far too early in the morning.
How can I manage it?
Ban mobile phones
Mobile phones and tablets emit a blue light which disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, making it harder for the body to take light cues from the sunset. Limit the amount of time spent on devices in the evening and stop using them completely at least an hour before bed to help your circadian rhythm readjust itself.
A study in 2004 found that acupuncture increased the production of night time melatonin in patients with anxiety. This meant that the patients were able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer, with the added bonus of being less stressed.
Another alternative therapy for insomnia is massage. Studies have shown that massage therapy increases the production of serotonin which helps to combat stress and depression, while increasing sleep and reducing anxiety.
Practising mindfulness meditation is another great way to let the mind and body know that it is time to relax. A study in 2015 found that adults who regularly practice mindfulness improved their sleep quality over time. Using an app such as Insight Timer is a great way to get into a daily habit of meditating before bed.
Participating in regular exercise has been shown to significantly improve the duration and quality of sleep for chronic insomnia sufferers. Taking part in aerobic exercise helps to tire the mind and body out, while gentle practices such as yoga aid in relaxing the body and creating a sense of peace. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week will help you to see at least a 65% improvement in sleep.
Essential oils such as lavender, ylang-ylang, bergamot, sandalwood and chamomile have been shown to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as changing brain waves to a more relaxed state.
Making sure you are eating the right foods is another way to manage your lack of sleep. Avoid milk, alcohol and caffeine as these can all play havoc with your body at night. Eat walnuts and almonds, which are a good source of tryptophan and magnesium, stock up on chamomile tea and cram kale into your smoothies for a boost of calcium to help melatonin production.
Investing in a sleep monitor will allow you to collect data on the length and duration of your sleep so that you can monitor whether the quality is improving over time. The data is sent to an app on your smartphone which gives you a detailed insight into your heart rate, respiratory rate and motion during the night.
If you would like to find out more about how REM-Fit sleep monitoring technology can help you to get a better night’s rest, please get in touch with our experienced, knowledgeable staff by calling 020 8731 0020 or email us via email@example.com.
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