For the month of May, Defying Shadows will be joining the Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing a post daily on a different type of Mental Illness or “Shadow” that people commonly struggle with. Join us in creating awareness and working to end the stigma that goes with these topics! Today we have Alex Newton sharing on Insomnia. ~ Defying Shadows Team.
As I am writing this post, it is currently 2:30am and I cannot sleep – hopefully you’ll enjoy and understand the irony behind this statement soon. Insomnia is the most common sleep conditions affecting many people. According to The Mayo Clinic, insomnia is a “persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.” Although age is a determinant of how much sleep you should get, most of us usually never get the amount of recommended sleep we’re supposed to.
Some tips to help you sleep better at night include (but are not limited to):
– listening to soothing music
– Turning off all electronics 1 hour prior to sleep (the brightness of the screen can stimulate the brain)
– drink a warm beverage (whether it be decaffeinated tea, a warm glass of milk)
– Track your sleeping schedule (not only does this help you get your body into a proper sleeping regime, but it also helps show your sleep patterns over a period of time and can be brought to your doctor if needed)
– Get yourself comfortable (this could be simply lighting a candle or grabbing your favourite blanket to lay with)
– Limit the amount of naps you have throughout the day
– Manage stress (organize yourself and your mind to help yourself sleep peacefully at night)
– Contact your doctor if needed
According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, these are the most common symptoms of insomnia:
• Inability to focus or concentrate
• Poor memory
• Mood disturbance
• Daytime sleepiness
• Low motivation or energy
• Increased errors or accidents
Some facts, myths, and statistics regarding insomnia include:
– How common is insomnia among adults?
• 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia
• 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months
• 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months
– Insomnia isn’t gender or age specific. However, it is twice as likely to affect women as compared to men
– Studies have shown that the risk of strokes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, obesity, diabetes and depression are much higher in patients suffering from insomnia
– Substance abuse like smoking, alcoholism and drugs are more likely to develop in individuals suffering from insomnia
Now that I’ve given you some background knowledge, it’s time to discuss treatment options. Like any other illness, once the underlying cause has been determined, treatment options are based off of it. In this case, insomnia can often times be treated in natural remedies (similar to the ones posted above.) In addition, if the symptoms of insomnia persist, then a sleeping medication can be prescribed. However, overtime, this medication can begin to lose the effectiveness on the body and can thus increase dependency.
I suppose the most important message I’d like you to take away from this blog post is to track your sleep patterns and make note once changes occur. Second, before making an appointment with your doctor, try natural remedies at home to help improve your quality (and quantity) of sleep.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.