Sleeping should be easy. After all, you’re just supposed to lay down, close your eyes, and the next thing you know, you’re in dreamland with Noah Centineo. But bedtime can turn into a real nightmare when insomnia is part of the equation.

WHAT IS INSOMNIA?

Insomnia is usually defined as having difficulty falling, staying, or getting back to sleep. For some, it’s the experience of waking up too early, accompanied by a tired and restless feeling. But to keep it simple, there are two main kinds of insomnia:

ACUTE INSOMNIA
Short-term insomnia that can occur for just a night or a few weeks. The cause is often unidentifiable but mostly brought about by an anxiety-inducing situation, like having a big presentation the next day or receiving bad news.

CHRONIC INSOMNIA
Long-term insomnia that you experience at least thrice a week for at least three months, and even years for some. It is often due to a medical or psychiatric problem such as anxiety, stress, or depression. Some cases of insomnia start out with an acute episode but turn into a chronic problem. This emphasizes the urgency to address insomnia before it becomes a daunting daily norm.

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR INSOMNIA

Okay, so you know what insomnia is—but this doesn’t answer why you can’t sleep. Here are 5 possible reasons:

1. Lifestyle patterns. An unhealthy lifestyle can trigger insomnia even without an underlying psychiatric or medical problem. Case in point, taking several short naps within the day stores body energy, making it difficult to sleep later at night. Or in most cases, working beyond office hours keeps the mind from resting, resulting to a preoccupied and restless body. And if you think those quick, late night updates on social media don’t hurt, think again. Checking your phone relentlessly (especially if it’s by your bed side), can keep you up all night long.

2. Preexisting medical conditions. Having an existing medical condition can cause insomnia and in some cases, may be a side effect or symptom of a condition. Medications for common sicknesses can also interfere with sleep such as medicine used to treat colds, allergies, asthma, depression, and high blood pressure. Physical pain caused by hormonal shifts during menstruation, coupled with lower back pain, can also lead to a bad night’s sleep.

3. Disruptions in your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm (A.K.A., your body clock) regulates the psychological processes that dictate when you should sleep, rise, and eat. When you’re used to a certain pattern, any form of disruption can trigger your sleep to be altered. Think jet lag and all-nighters. Environmental factors, like noise, light, change in temperature (extreme heat or cold), and high altitudes, can also interfere with the way you sleep.

4. Anxiety or depression. Psychological and psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychotic issues can turn sleeping into a horrendous task. The inactivity that the night brings can result in stressful thoughts and fears that keep a person awake. Sleep problems are symptoms of depression which results to mood changes and hormonal shifts. Being alone with your thoughts can make you anxious and worrisome, leading to tension, panic, dread, and overthinking. Stress, whether accumulated or caused by a sudden life event, is also a major factor.

5. Food consumption. Eating heavy meals right before you hit the bed makes your body have a difficult time to settle and relax into sleep. Food with high levels of sugar, protein, and fat are hard-to-digest substances which build up stomach acids. Common examples include caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, and fluids that will surely make you run to the bathroom during the wee hours of the morning.

HOW TO ADDRESS INSOMNIA

Now that you know why you’re not sleeping, it’s time you actually go to sleep. Here are 10 ways that will help ease you deep into slumber:

1. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule. Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time for the week and put it into practice. Waking up at a specific time signals to your body when you should sleep and arise. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier with 5-minute snooze intervals. In time, your body clock should adjust naturally.

2. Embody healthy lifestyle habits. What you consume and do hours before bedtime directly affects your sleep. Avoid smoking, eating heavy, high-sugar foods, and drinking caffeine and alcohol. And while it’s important to exercise regularly, just make sure you don’t do it 3-4 hours before sleep as it stimulates the body.

3. Create a sleep-inducing environment. Make sure you’re cozy in every aspect of the word: keep a well-lit room, a snuggly bed, and set your room temperature just right. A temperate bath followed by a warm cup of milk or tea can calm an overactive mind and make you feel completely relaxed.
TRY: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Fresh Leaf Tea Chamomile, P300, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Original (180ml), P40

4. Take a whiff of aromatherapy. An aroma diffuser married with the power of essential oils can transport you to a stress-free, relaxed state of mind, body, and soul.
TRY: Pure Bliss Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser with Oil Trio Bundle, P2,997, Pure Bliss Dark Blue Reed Diffuser Set, P500

5. Soothe your mind with calming candlelight or a Himalayan salt lamp. With a myriad of soothing scents, candles help in achieving a meditative state. The soft illumination it emits allows you to invoke a positive and calm sensation. The same can be said about a Himalayan salt lamp. This wonder mineral brings bountiful benefits, such as stabilizing your mood, calming your vision after a long day, and an overall feeling of lightness.
TRY: Happy Island Lavender Candle Soy Candle (8oz/240ml), P499, Hima PH Himalayan Salt Lamp (2-3kg), P1,250

6. Practice breathing and meditation exercises. Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Just close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a mental count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and completely exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. Do this 3 more times for a total of four breaths.

7. Get rid of unnecessary distractions. Contrary to belief that checking your phone can make you sleepy, the blue light that emanates from electronic devices suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and compromises alertness the next day. Once you’re tucked in bed, make sure you focus on sleeping and nothing more. There’s always time to catch up on those IG stories the next day!

8. Listen to relaxing music. Soft, instrumental music mirrors as lullabies that trigger feel-good brain chemicals that boost sleep quality and quantity. Just remember to use speakers as earphones can harm your drums!

9. Take a sleep aid—in moderation. Popping a melatonin pill 30 minutes before bedtime can help induce sleep. Though taking it has its potential side effects, it’s an instant lifesaver for those sleepless nights.
TRY: Herbs of the Earth Melatonin+ Sleep Faster (50 Chewable Tablets), on sale at P1,000 (limited time only), Piping Rock (250 Tablets), P590

10. Consult your doctor. At the end of the night, don’t make the hasty conclusion of having insomnia! It’s best to double-check with your doctor to find out if you have an underlying medical issue that could be contributing to your sleep problem. You could also be taking medicine that contains sleeping ingredients that hinder you from sleeping well. Never self-diagnose and always take directive from a health professional.

Sweet dreams!

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