Infuriating Insomnia (or Why Can’t I Sleep?)
Not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep can be exhausting and frustrating. For many people the night is a lonely and dark place, even though they are active and functioning all day long.
1. Sleep disturbances can be temporary. Changes in routine, travel or menopausal hot flashes can make it impossible to fall asleep. Often patience and time are your best allies as your body adjusts.
2. What’s on your mind? Stress and depression can manifest as sleep difficulties. The most insidious stresses are the ones you have no control over - money, work, family. Chronic diseases also take a toll. Sometimes the best sleep remedy is a plan to conquer your debt or an agenda for your next job search.
3. Routine is important. If your sleep time and routine varies every day you may not be able to fall asleep at will. Screen time, bright lights, caffeine and alcohol also confuse your body’s natural sleep cycle. Make an effort to sleep at a regular time every day and turn off all screens (TV, phones, games, computers) beforehand. Try some stretches before you sleep.
4. Sleep medications are a last resort. They can be helpful for people with varying shifts or who travel frequently between time zones. For some people they can help to re-establish a regular routine. Melatonin is available over the counter and is one of the more commonly used options.
There’s plenty more to talk about - look out for the next article. Keep in mind that all symptoms (including sleep difficulties) have multiple possible causes and the only way to make an accurate diagnosis in your situation is to see a doctor.
Please remember that reading an article does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship or any form of individual medical advice. Everyone deserves to have a doctor - so find one that you can talk to or make an appointment!