Some nights, it seems like you toss and turn for hours, so now you’re tired, cranky, and fed up with counting sheep. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you aren’t alone. Approximately 30 percent of adults suffer insomnia symptoms, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia occurs when you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or returning to sleep if you wake too early. Most people experience insomnia at some point in their life. These episodes are usually brief and occur due to life events, such as worrying about an exam to being too excited about an upcoming trip. These short bouts of insomnia recover on their own and don’t impact your overall health.
But for those with chronic insomnia, lack of sleep becomes a life-altering experience. To be diagnosed, you must have trouble sleeping at least three days a week for at least three months.
Lack of sleep does more than make you tired – it impacts your health and well-being. People who don’t sleep through the night have less energy, are irritable, suffer anxiety, and are more likely to be obese and depressed. They’re also more prone to develop chronic diseases.
Insomnia is most often a symptom or side effect of something else. It could be the result of a circadian rhythm disruption, such as shift work, or a side effect of medications and conditions, such as bipolar disorder. Poor sleep habits, such as taking naps or going to bed at different times, can also cause insomnia. An overactive mind that worries and jumps from one topic to the next can interrupt sleep as well.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
If you’ve been surviving on six hours of sleep for any length of time, you may think that’s enough, but it isn’t. You may be able to function on less, but your body needs more, and the lack of shut-eye can eventually lead to chronic sleep deprivation. The average adult needs between seven and a half and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health. If you’re getting less than that, it’s time to be your own health hero and start hitting the hay earlier.
Recommendations for getting some zzzz:
- Every night, follow the same sleep routine, including going to bed around the same time.
- Remove the TV from your bedroom to help your mind relax and associate your bed with sleep.
- Put your phone and other electronics down at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Exercise and eat healthy to help the body fall into a deep sleep.
- Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to calm your mind.