What is insomnia and how to beat it?


Just around two weeks ago I talked to my mom and she said she has found a way that helps her sleep. Her cure isn’t so much about anything else than timing. She said that she now goes to bed every day at the same time, at 10pm. And according to her, most of the time she now falls asleep within minutes, and her sleep problems are mostly thing of the past. However, it might not be as simple as that for everyone, especially for people dealing with serious insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty to fall asleep or staying asleep. Symptoms of insomnia, besides feeling tired all the time, include sleepiness during the day, problems with concentration, waking up too early, low energy levels during the day. And if you’re tired, you also get irritated easier and might have other behavioral problems.

What causes insomnia?

Insomnia might be caused by various different things, they might be related to your lifestyle, or the underlying cause might be an undiagnosed medical condition.

One of the lifestyle-related causes is significant stress, brought on by whatever is happening in your life, be it problems in your relationship or lack of one at all, loss of a job, death in the family. As they say, stress is a silent killer, and when it comes to sleep issues, it can be really silent. Other lifestyle-related causes of insomnia include environmental factors such as light, noise, annoying temperatures. Also random sleep schedule, be it a because of a night time job, or your usual weird lifestyle where your sleeping schedule isn’t set too strictly. Another factor, while it’s partly also related to medical causes, are any kind of medications you might be taking that might have side effects related to having a good night sleep.

Medical conditions that might be causing insomnia include chronic pain, asthma, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, or gastrointestinal problems. Also nasal allergies can be mentioned here.

How to cure insomnia?

For my mom, what helped was simply starting go to bed to 10pm sharp every night. But obviously, this doesn’t help everyone. If the insomnia is caused by some medical condition, it’s best to consult your doctor. But there are also a number of things you can do yourself. Sometimes a good enough fix is simply to get yourself a new comfortable mattress. But that alone is often not enough. In most cases your insomnia is caused by stress. So the most important thing is to try to reduce stress. I know it’s easier said than done, but it is possible to learn to handle stress better and stay positive independent of what’s happening in your life. There’s a good saying – “Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out of it alive anyway.” I love that saying. Another thought I try to live by, is that worrying about something doesn’t really do you any good at all. There can always be tons of things to worry about, but what does worrying actually help with? Nothing. Besides stressing you out, that is. Stop that!

To help you with your insomnia, also frequent exercise is good. It can relieve stress, make you more tired in the evening, and also make you less sleepy during the day, and as such, dial back the symptoms of your insomnia. Besides regular exercise, you should also watch what you eat and drink. And while I can say that cutting down on coffee or sugar can be a good idea, it really depends on a person. For some people no amount of coffee or sugar causes any problems for them. But for others, drinking coffee during the day can cause sleep problems even 12 hours later. So you simply need to test and see what works for you.