Insomniacs, this one’s for you.
You get into bed after a long and exhausting day at work. Your body feels tired, yet tomorrow’s to do list flashes across your eyes, and you start to feel like you’re forgetting something. Did you reply to that email? Did you order the dog food? Did you set your alarm early enough?
Suddenly, you’re no longer tired. For some reason, you’re now ruminating on an embarrassing moment from five years ago, or wondering how Styrofoam is made. The idea of sleep is getting farther and farther away from you.
Getting enough sleep may seem like an impossible task. In fact, 33 % of working adults report sleeping six or fewer hours per night. The average hours of sleep that Americans get each night has gone down progressively each year since 1942, thanks to the blurring lines between work and home, and more recently, technology.
We all know that sleep deprivation isn’t good for us. But it can be more serious than you’d think — increasing your risk for various health conditions, memory loss, and cognitive difficulty. At the very least, it can prevent you from living each day at your highest potential, diminishing your ability to achieve goals in both your personal and professional life.
While it’s normal for sleep to evade us every now and then, if you find that you regularly struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Sleep deprivation is so normalized in our society that we often begin to think that our sleep struggles are just a normal part of life. For busy professionals, parents, creatives, and those who work the night shift, it might be difficult to remember a time when you weren’t sleep deprived.
Learning to prioritize sleep is difficult enough. But what happens when we’ve finally laid down after a long day and our bodies and minds simply don’t allow us to fall asleep?
Tips for Better Sleep
If sleep regularly evades you, one of the first areas for improvement is “sleep hygiene,” the daily routines and bedroom environments that promote better sleep. While sleep hygiene looks different for each of us, there are some common recommended practices that support healthier sleep:
- Keeping a consistent bedtime
- Making sure your bedroom is relaxing, dark enough, and quiet
- Avoiding technology, caffeine, alcohol, or large meals before bedtime
- Getting enough exercise during the day
Poor time management often compounds sleep struggles. Like in the example at the beginning of this article, many of us find ourselves laying in bed wondering if we forgot to do something important during the day. For folks with busy schedules and many different responsibilities, better time management skills can allow for a calmer mind at night.
If Nothing Else Is Working
If sleep hygiene and time management fixed all of our sleep problems, most of us would probably be sleeping like babies every night. For many of us, better sleep requires more.
If physical illness is ruled out, insomnia is often rooted in stress or an underlying emotional struggle, like anxiety or depression. Finding relief from insomnia, in these cases, necessitates addressing the root cause of the emotional pain.
It can seem easier to take a sleeping pill, an herbal supplement, or smoke some weed rather than look deeper into our anxieties or traumatic life experiences. However, there may come a time where even sleeping pills don’t really do the trick.
If you’ve reached the point where nothing else is working, know that better sleep IS possible for you. Many people find that speaking to a licensed professional and/or exploring medication to address anxiety or depression are essential in alleviating the root causes of insomnia.
You deserve to experience consistent and restful sleep. Being open to exploring the root causes of your sleep problems, no matter how frustrating or scary it seems, is a huge step toward the good night’s sleep you’ve always dreamed of.
The Hard Truth About Insomnia
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