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How to Deal with Insomnia

Published on Mar 15, 2023 | 1:26 PM

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Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by the difficulty or inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. The condition, which affects approximately 40 million people each year, can be acute or chronic. Insomnia can have negative effects on your ability to perform at work or school, causing you to feel fatigued and unable to concentrate throughout the day.

March is National Sleep Awareness Month, so we’re providing advice on habits, supplements, and other solutions that can help you achieve better quality sleep.

Understanding Insomnia

Acute and chronic are insomnia’s two main forms. Acute or short-term insomnia occurs as a response to significant life changes or stressors and can affect your sleep for a few days or weeks, but typically it is not longer than three months. Chronic insomnia typically lasts beyond three months.

Chronic insomnia leads to many difficulties during daytime hours, including:

  • Increased irritability
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Increased errors or accidents

Tips for Dealing with Insomnia

Dealing with insomnia may be different, depending on your age, other conditions, and the severity of insomnia you may be experiencing. There are several things you can try at home to cope with insomnia.

Incorporate Movement into Your Day

Whether you walk or engage in a workout routine, physical movement can help increase the probability of a high-quality sleep and help re-energize you if you feel fatigued. If you’re just beginning to exercise, start with small, low-impact outings, gradually increasing to 30 minutes or more of daily movement.

Adopt Relaxation Techniques

Anxiety and racing thoughts commonly accompany insomnia. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help you calm your mind and help you to feel centered.

Begin by focusing on your breathing for a few minutes per day. Concentrate on every aspect of this process, such as how your lungs feel as you inhale and exhale and how the air feels as it enters and leaves your nose.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule and Routine

Avoiding naps during the day and going to bed at the same time each night can help regulate your circadian rhythm and allow you to fall asleep more quickly. Circadian rhythms are shifts in the body, brain, and behavior that occur on a 24-hour schedule. One way to help you get to bed at the same time each night is to develop a bedtime routine that helps you to relax.

Your routine can include dimming the lights and turning off phones and other devices at least an hour before bedtime and drinking a cup of chamomile tea or another calming, non-caffeinated herbal tea.

Try Natural Remedies

Supplements like melatonin and valerian are known for their ability to facilitate sleep, albeit in different ways.

Responsible for sleep cycle regulation, melatonin is produced naturally by our bodies. As we get older, melatonin production slows. A 3- to 5-milligram melatonin supplement can be taken approximately 30 minutes before bed.

Note: Melatonin supplements can interact with certain medications, such as those used for birth control, diabetes, and immune suppression.

Valerian is a root with mild sedative properties that is available in supplement form. The supplement can be taken at a 200mg dosage 30 minutes before going to bed.

Note: Valerian root can become addictive and can increase the side effects of sleeping pills, alcohol, and other substances. It can also interfere with pharmaceutical medications. Make sure to consult with a doctor about incorporating Valerian root into your routine.

Consider Medical Interventions

It can help to talk to your doctor to rule out or treat common underlying causes of insomnia, such as:

  • Restless legs syndrome: Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can cause insomnia due to the discomfort and urge to move the legs that often accompanies the condition, especially at night. This persistent sensation can disrupt sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to insomnia. 
  • Depression: Depression can cause insomnia due to disruptions in neurotransmitter levels, particularly serotonin and norepinephrine, which regulate mood and sleep. Additionally, persistent rumination, feelings of hopelessness, and anxiety associated with depression can lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism can cause insomnia because it increases metabolic rate and can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and restlessness, disrupting normal sleep patterns. Additionally, hormonal imbalances associated with hyperthyroidism can directly affect the regulation of sleep-wake cycles, contributing to insomnia.
  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea can cause insomnia due to recurrent interruptions in breathing during sleep, leading to frequent awakenings throughout the night as the body struggles to restore normal breathing patterns. These disruptions prevent individuals from achieving deep, restorative sleep, resulting in symptoms of insomnia such as difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep continuity.

Many sleep aid medications are available for purchase at your local pharmacy. For more persistent insomnia, stronger medications may be prescribed.

Get Help with Your Sleep Health

Insomnia is a common condition that may or may not last for longer than three months. If you are sleep deprived and experiencing common insomnia symptoms, speaking with a doctor may help.

Call-On-Doc allows you to speak with a physician at any time and from any device. There’s no need to travel to or wait at a doctor’s office; just choose a condition, like insomnia, from the list, answer a few questions about your medical history and symptoms, select between home delivery or your local pharmacy, then submit your consultation.

Once a medical provider reviews and prescribes the appropriate treatment plan, it can be available at your pharmacy in as little as 1-2 hours or delivered to your home on a monthly or quarterly basis.

By choosing Call-On-Doc, you join the thousands of people we've helped with insomnia and long-term sleep problems by receiving the medical assistance and treatment needed for regular sleep. It’s easy to learn more and get started; visit us today.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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