Over the last three months, your sleep has changed.
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The first month, you woke up too early.
The second month, you went to sleep on time each night, but woke up feeling tired every morning.
This month you started waking up every hour or so for no apparent reason. Even though you get some sleep, you have developed chronic insomnia.
If your sleepless nights have made you anxious about going to bed, it is time to take action.
Insomnia Has Many Forms
Doctors often divide insomnia into three categories: transient or lasting a few days, short-term or lasting no longer than three weeks, or chronic insomnia, happening at least three nights a week for a month or more.
Some people may suffer with insomnia without knowing the condition is treatable, and if you are suffering from any of the three types as described above, consider making changes that encourage your mind to relax and allow you to enjoy restorative sleep.
Prepare Your Mind For A Good Night’s Rest
Creating a bedtime routine can help tame insomnia, but you may need to consider making some more serious changes than simply establishing nighttime habits. Your mind can gather stress for months on end.
Unlike physical stress, mental stress can embed itself in the mind and return when we least expect it. If you believe, for example, that stress from your job is causing your insomnia, you may face a tough, but necessary decision. Before you quit your job, however, you can:
- Add a hobby or two to your down time. Hobbies shift your thoughts from required activities to those activities you create for yourself. You can take as much or as little time as you want to complete a hobby project and develop an aspect of yourself that is satisfying. A good hobby gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride in completing something of your own. This good feeling, in turn, can ease the stress leading to your insomnia.
- Turn off your phone. Whether you have a landline or a smart phone, intense phone conversations can leave you exasperated, upset and wide awake. Unless there is an emergency that only you can resolve, you needn’t answer your phone after a certain time at night. Choose a time to end your day officially by deciding when to ignore a ringing phone.
- Adjust your job to better suit your lifestyle. If you do trace your insomnia to job stress, perhaps you can adjust your employment. Cut your work hours, or work at home for a few days a week if your company allows telecommuting. This gives you more control of your work life. Working in your own environment can increases concentration, enhances your productivity and reduces your work-related stress.
Embrace Other Possibilities
Perhaps you love your work and already have fulfilling hobbies; if so, your insomnia’s trigger lies elsewhere, and it’s time to examine other areas of your life. Humans are so adaptable that we’ll learn to live with discomfort.
While that can be helpful under certain circumstances, that strength can mask underlying illness and the possible source of your chronic insomnia. You may be:
- Living with pain. You tend to ignore mild pain during the day. At night, when all is quiet and you fall asleep, mild pain can disrupt the brain’s normal sleep cycle. You may wake without knowing why, or wake suddenly with severe pain. Arthritis, muscle spasms and fibromyalgia can trigger chronic insomnia.
- Suffering from digestive problems- Lying down can allow the contents of your stomach to spill into the esophagus. Known as Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD), the burning sensation disturbs your sleep. Sleep with your torso and head elevated to prevent GERD and avoid large meals two to three hours before bedtime.
- Dealing with allergies. An itchy rash, stuffy nose and runny eyes are all allergy symptoms that can keep you awake, interrupt your sleep or make you wake too early. Before taking allergy medications, consider changing your environment to remove the allergens from your home. Close your windows if you have seasonal allergies triggered by outdoor allergens. Avoid eating foods that trigger allergic rashes, and make certain you aren’t allergic to your pet. Your doctor can perform an allergy test that will determine what is causing your allergies.
Finally, don’t stress that you can’t sleep. Sleep guidelines do not address individual needs and everyone is different. Sleep is not a contest where eight hours must be your goal if your body demands otherwise.
Keep eating your healthy diet, stick with your exercise program, and remember that you are a successful human being, even if you can’t sleep more than four hours in a stretch.