What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia can be defined as having habitual difficulties sleeping. It can leave sufferers feeling irritable and tired throughout the day, and can make it hard to concentrate on daily tasks and activities.
Most people will experience sleep problems at some point in their life. According to Aviva’s 2017 Wellbeing Report, there are as many as 16 million adults in the UK that suffer from sleepless nights; a third of these claiming to have insomnia, and nearly half (48%) agreeing that they don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep plays an essential part in maintaining a healthy life, not only can a lack of sleep lower your mood and focus throughout the day, it can also put your physical health at risk too.
Not getting enough sleep can lower your life expectancy. By experiencing a frequent lack of sleep, you could be putting yourself at risk of such serious conditions as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
It’s therefore vital to ensure a healthy night’s rest, helping you to promote both your physical and mental health.
Do I Have Insomnia?
There are a variety of different symptoms that can come with insomnia. The NHS details some of the main features to come with this condition, including the following:
- Finding it hard to go to sleep
- Lying awake during the night
- Waking up numerous different times throughout the night
- Feeling tired after waking up from sleep
- Waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep
- Feeling tired and irritable throughout the day
- Finding it difficult to nap in the day, even when tired
- Struggling to concentrate because you’re feeling tired
These symptoms can persist for months, and sometimes even years. For the good of your health, it’s important to try and address these issues as soon as they arise. You can typically alleviate the symptoms of insomnia by making changes to your sleeping habits.
You will need varying amounts of sleep depending upon your age/stage of development. For toddlers and babies, the average amount is 12 to 17 hours, for children its 9 to 13 hours, and for adults its 7 to 9 hours.
You can complete the NHS’s Sleep Self-Assessment (see link at bottom of the page), which will show you your “sleep score” along with practical tips on helping you to improve your sleeping behaviours.
What Are the Causes of Insomnia?
Insomnia can be brought about by numerous different issues. Those who are struggling with their mental health (e.g. stress, anxiety or depression) can often suffer from insomnia as a result of this.
Environmental factors can also cause insomnia. If there’s a lot of noise going on whilst you’re trying to sleep, or the room is too hot/cold, this can make it difficult to drift off, causing a lack of sleep.
Additionally, taking certain substances can cause insomnia; including alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Taking recreational drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy are also known to cause insomnia.
There are various different circumstances that can cause insomnia. When looking for ways to alleviate insomnia, it’s firstly crucial to identify potential causes, and tailor treatment around this.
For example, if your insomnia is caused by stress, anxiety or depression, its firstly important to try and address these issues; taking the necessary steps to promote your wellbeing and quality of life. Once these issues are managed and symptoms alleviated, this can help make it easier to drift off, promoting sleep quality.
How to Treat Insomnia
As previously mentioned, insomnia can usually be alleviated by changing your sleep habits. It’s recommended that you practice going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, and to only get into bed if you’re feeling tired.
It might also help to relax at least an hour before you plan on going to bed, unwinding by taking a bath or reading a book. Additionally, making sure your bedroom is optimised for sleep, being dark and as quiet as possible, can help to promote relaxation and further along sleep.
It’s also important to make sure your bed is comfortable to sleep in, and invest in decent pillows and covers. It might be worth considering a weighted blanket for your bed, as these products have long been used to aid sleep, promote sleep quality and alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety – which are common causes of insomnia.
Proof has shown that using a weighted blanket can help relax the body and calm the sensors, helping those that suffer from insomnia. For more information, see our full list of products here.