Awake All Night, Every Night

Today, I’m bringing up a topic that is often turned into a meme, and a term used by most people in the most casual manner-insomnia.

What exactly is insomnia?

According to ICD-10, insomnia is a condition of unsatisfactory quantity and/or quality of sleep, which persists for a considerable period of time. People with insomnia usually complain about difficulty in falling asleep, maintaining sleep throughout the night or waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep. These are called sleep disturbances.

Anyone can have sleep disturbances, but that does not necessarily mean that you have insomnia. That just means you need to stop consulting Dr.Google.

Examples of sleep disturbances can be the inability to fall asleep because you are tensed regarding the presentation tomorrow, or because you met the girl of your dreams yesterday and you find out that the same girl has a boyfriend. Sleepless nights due to these reasons will last a short while. Prolonged sleep disturbances (>= 3 months) is the clinical feature of insomnia. However, still, if you are unable to sleep properly for 1 week or more, I would highly recommend you go to your nearest mental health professional or email us at thepsychologynook@gmail.com, we can help you as well through online therapy.

What causes sleep disturbances?

Psychological distress is the first reason we think of when we face sleep disturbance. Yes, it is a very common explanation, but more common are the certain habits that we cultivate that leads to us being awake at night.

  1. To begin with, are you reading this blog while lying down in your bed? If yes, then you’ve found a reason for your sleep disturbance. Empirical research says that exposing your eyes to a screen 2 hours before sleeping will definitely lead to difficulty in falling asleep.
  2. That innocent looking cup of coffee in evening hours is not exactly all that innocent. Any kind of depressants (alcohol) , stimulants (tea, coffee, cocaine) or hallucinogens (LSD, marijuana) will further aid sleep disturbance.
  3. If there is a change of environment while sleeping, you might experience difficulty in falling asleep. Changes in noise level, lighting or the temperature contributes to sleep disturbance
  4. Performance anxiety can also be a cause of sleep disturbance. This is not what you are thinking of – I am talking about performance of sleeping. Don’t think too hard about those 8 hours of sleep. It’s ok if you get a few minutes less. You’re not winning any competition of who gets the most sleep.

How to ensure a good night’s sleep?

Sleep Hygiene, a term that was first introduced by Nathaniel Kleitman, the father of modern sleep research. This involves some very basic and simple pointers we should follow to ensure good sleep.

  1. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine etc. that can interfere with your sleep.
  2. Avoid screen time before going to bed. Not just in bed, but at least an hour before you go to bed. Say bye to Netflix before you plan to sleep.
  3. A bed is a place to sleep. Avoid working or studying in bed. To ensure a good night’s sleep, you need to condition yourself by doing only 1 activity in bed – sleeping.
  4. Spending too much time in bed trying to sleep? Don’t! Get up do some activity which does not require screen time (read a book, do some exercise, talk to your spouse) and when you are sleepy again go to bed
  5. Are you worried because you only slept for 4 hours? That’s fine, don’t worry. Worrying about not sleeping for 8 hours is just going to make you even more anxious to fall asleep the next night.
  6. Exercise! It can help you fall asleep faster and more soundly. Shedding those calories will gain you some sound sleep!
  7. Try to keep the time at which you go to sleep and wake up consistent.

A word of caution, do not ever self diagnose insomnia or ANY disorder for that matter. Neither should you self medicate. If you haven’t put in the hours to obtain a degree that allows you to do so, then the wise thing to do would going to a person that is qualified!

Sweet dreams to you,

Monali

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