Sleepless Nights: Understanding Insomnia and Finding Effective Solutions

I can’t sleep - Insomnia

Sleep is such a commodity. Lack of sleep, or insomnia, is a common complaint, yet it is one of the most frustrating. Admit it; we have all been there at one time or another. Whether our sleep is affected for a matter of days or a matter of months, it does consume our entire lives. Looking at the darkness and willing sleep to come for the first time in what seems like years, even if we get some sleep by some miracle, it is broken or disturbed. During the day, we notice that the most essential things make us irritable and unpleasant. We walk around sluggish and exhausted, convinced that this will be the night we will get some sleep. And the stress-sleep cycle continues. Lack of sleep affects our quality of life!

Here, we will discuss insomnia, its common causes, and how to cope with such a big change in our lives (albeit for a short period of time).

Note: It is essential to remember that what constitutes a ‘decent’ or ‘acceptable’ amount of sleep can vary from person to person. As important as the duration of sleep is, the quality is equally important. We hope to improve and maintain both aspects of sleep.

The importance of sleep in our lives

Complete and satisfactory sleep—what a beautiful concept. When we have a full sleep, our mood is lighter and more joyful; we are more likeable and pleasant to be around; our memory is stronger; our concentration levels are better, and we possess more enthusiasm and energy. And these are just the psychological and behavioural benefits.

The other positives of sleep include more radiant skin, weight regulation (as believe it or not, the body undergoes metabolism and repairs at night), and immune system maintenance. Good quality sleep is also linked to a lower risk of developing certain diseases and conditions.

Causes of Insomnia

There are so many reasons why someone may develop acute or chronic insomnia. It is essential to identify when sleep was affected so an individual can get to the root of the problem and work on the issues. Usually, insomnia is due to a change in our day-to-day lives.

Keeping a diary for a couple of weeks is helpful to get to the root of the issue. It allows you to see what you are doing, eating, sleep and wake timings, diet, exercise, stress, and whether you are achieving good quality sleep.

Stressed?

It is essential to mention the role of stress and anxiety on sleep. As well as affecting our mental health, stress can also affect the physical aspects of our bodies.

It is essential to mention the role of stress and anxiety on sleep. As well as affecting our mental health, stress can also affect the physical aspects of our bodies.

Sleep Hygiene

GooQualityeep is as essential to our health and well-being as healthy eating and regular exercise. We are constantly on the go from the moment we wake up, constantly hyper-stimulated – from work deadlines, technology, 24-hour social media pressures and updates, punctuality, running errands, seeing to the needs of the family, and just general day-to-day life. However, in the evening, we don’t quite know how to slow down and get ready for the nighttime. We need to remind ourselves of many tasks, which ultimately leads us to become mentally exhausted.

So, what is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene does not refer to a clean bed, clothing, or surroundings, though these are important factors. Sleep hygiene refers to preparing ourselves for sleep by making slight yet impactful changes to our surroundings, which affects our attitude towards switching off and achieving the dream of good quality sleep!

Are you concerned about sleeping too much?

Sleeping too much or being overtired and lethargic during the daytime can also be an issue. If this applies to yourself or someone you know, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

Over-the-counter treatments for insomnia

Herbal remedies

  • Passionflower.
  • Aid relaxation and sleep.
  • Hops.
  • Lavender.

Note - If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any health conditions, speak to your pharmacist or GP before using any products with these ingredients 

Nytol

  • Contains: Diphenhydramine.
  • A sedating antihistamine.
  • Suitable for adults only.

Note - This medication may cause drowsiness the next day. Be cautious if you plan to drive or operate machinery.

Kalms

  • An herbal medicinal product containing valerian root.
  • For relief of sleep disturbances.

Rescue Remedy range

  • An herbal product which aids sleep and relaxation.
  • Available as gummies, balms, liquid droppers, spray, and dispersible tablets.

When should I see my GP?

  • Are you concerned about your symptoms, or do you have other symptoms not mentioned above?
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • If you feel like you cannot cope with your symptoms.
  • Insomnia affects your mood, general health, and mental health.
  • Anyone who is under the age of 18.
  • Do you have any mental health conditions?
  • You have used over-the-counter products, but they have not worked.

Where can I get more information on insomnia?

NHS website on insomnia

Listen to The Penguin Sleep Tales series

The Sleep Charity – Understanding Your Sleep is a free downloadable sleep eBook

British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association

Stress Management Society

Anxiety UK

A HealthUnlocked anxiety forum run by Anxiety Support

Mind and Young Minds