In the United States, approximately seventy million people are affected by one or more symptoms of insomnia. Of these, an estimated twenty-three and a half million people, or roughly ten percent of the adult population, experience symptoms consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia.
Insomnia can impact people physically and psychologically, and can cause problems during the day, such as fatigue. It is important for people who are struggling with insomnia to speak with their doctor about it to see what can be done.
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. If you think you may be suffering from insomnia, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any factors which might be impacting your sleep.
If you think you may be suffering from insomnia, only your doctor or a sleep specialist can diagnose your condition and determine how best to help you. Your physician will ask about your specific symptoms, but common symptoms of insomnia include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and/or waking up too early.
The amount of sleep you need may depend on a variety of factors, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours for adults aged 18 to 64 and between 7 and 8 hours for adults aged 65 and older.
There are several tips, also known as “sleep hygiene,” you can try to help improve your sleep, such as:
If you have disrupted sleep at least three nights a week, for three months or more, despite having adequate opportunity to sleep, experts call that insomnia. However, anytime you experience an unusual change in your sleep patterns, you should speak to your doctor.
There are different treatment options available for insomnia, but it’s important to talk with your doctor about what might be right for you. In some cases, following good sleep hygiene can be helpful for improving sleep. There is also cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of therapy that focuses on recognizing and changing thoughts, beliefs and/or behaviors that may be affecting your ability to sleep.
There are several things you can do before bed to help prevent waking up in the middle of the night. For instance, try avoiding caffeine in the afternoon/evening and alcohol close to bedtime. These may cause interrupted sleep. Before bed, take the time to make where you sleep quiet and dark, by using darkening shades to block light and a fan or noise machine to block sounds. If you still find yourself waking up, and you can’t fall back asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity, such as listening to music.
Several studies have found that devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and a variety of other portable electronics may adversely impact sleep. This is because they emit blue light (they’re also called short-wavelength enriched light emitting devices). Blue light may block melatonin, a hormone your brain produces to help you fall and stay asleep. When reading before bed, try sticking to paper copies instead of reading from a device.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you have difficulty sleeping on the road:
Short naps, around 20 minutes, can help you feel refreshed during the day. However, naps of any length late in the day can interfere with nighttime sleep.
Some research suggests sleep habits may be influenced by what and how we eat.
Here are a few tips which can help prevent your meals from disturbing your sleep:
Make your bedroom quiet and dark when you’re ready to go to sleep. The room temperature should be cool, somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Your bedding should be clean and comfortable. The mattress should give you support, but how soft or how firm of a mattress is up to you.
Noise can disrupt your sleep, throw off your sleep patterns and decrease your total sleep time. No noise is good noise, but if avoiding noise just isn’t possible, or you feel that you have to have some sound at bedtime, try other ways of creating white noise – like a fan or a white noise machine.