Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Most of us, struggle to fall asleep at night. We keep turning side to side, adjusting the bedsheet and the pillow. We even close our eyes and try to sleep, only to realise that we are still awake as owls. We check our phones to know for how long we have been tussling just to get sleep, which humans were supposed to get normally. All these struggles are just the upshots of being insomniacs.
So, what exactly is insomnia and who are insomniacs?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder which causes trouble in sleeping in various ways like trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, or waking up feeling tired. The people who suffer from either of the above issues are known as insomniacs.
There is a common assumption that the root cause of insomnia is worrying and overthinking (ANXIETY). But what is the actual relationship between anxiety and insomnia? Which one's existence causes the origin of the other? Which comes first? Well, it seems that the relationship between anxiety and insomnia is bidirectional. It is yet to be found, which comes first among the two as they both work in a bidirectional way. What I mean is that they work in either way to trigger the other. Let me explain it to make it more understandable to you. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of developing anxiety disorders. Likewise, anxiety leads to trouble in sleeping in the form of insomnia.
The popular belief is that the insomniacs don't sleep well but the truth is contradictory. Insomniacs sleep far more than they realise. A professor named Lichstein says that around a third of people who consider themselves to be insomniacs actually sleep well. He says that the insomniacs feel that they don't sleep much because there is a big difference between their actual sleep and how they assess their sleep.
Let me share an incident which I read in a book called " HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING " by Dale Carnegie. One of the profound thinkers of the 19th century, Herbert Spencer swore that he never slept a wink that night to a Professor named Sayce with whom he was sharing a hotel room. But, the next morning, in reality, it was found that Professor Sayce was the one who had been awake all night by Spencer's snoring. Shocking isn't it?
Now, let's discuss the true enemy which does more harm than insomnia.
It was found that worrying about insomnia cause more harm than insomnia itself. Professor Lichstein from his research reveals that non-complaining poor sleepers are in better health than individuals with insomnia identity.
Dr.Nathaniel Kleitman, World's expert on sleep says that he has never seen anyone die from insomnia. He says that worrying does the damage, not insomnia itself.
Lets read a case study of a famous international lawyer called Samuel Untermyer who has never had a decent sleep throughout his life. Earlier, he used to be worried about how he had been suffering from asthma and insomnia. After a while, he realized that there was nothing that could be done by him. So he just started to take advantage of insomnia. He would get up and study instead of worrying about why he couldn't sleep. He said " Nature will take care of me" and worked harder. He worked while everyone else slept. He became successful. He lived a healthy life up to the age of eighty. If he had worried about his insomnia, he would have just ruined his health and life. Despite the small amount of time he slept, he led a successful and healthy life. We know that we sleep to give our whole body rest but we don't know how much sleep is required for each individual. So, let's try to have regular decent sleep. If we are not getting that, let's not worry as now we know that worrying does more harm that insomnia itself.
In this section, let see some suggestions on how to have a night of quality sleep.
l Make use of the time you are awake at night by reading/studying, just like how Samuel Untermyer did.
l Get yourself physically tired by doing a workout so that you would fall asleep soon.
l Self hypnotize yourself into sleeping.
l Just lie down, close your eyes and take rest. As long as you are there, with your eyes closed and body relaxed, you will get the rest which you attain when you sleep.
OTHER MINOR SUGGESTIONS:
Play soft music. It will lower your blood pressure and relax your mind and body.
Maintain a regular bedtime routine.
Avoid coffee, chocolate, and nicotine before going to sleep,
Never watch TV, computer as the light from those device prevents you from sleeping.
Read a book or magazine.
You can even meditate.
Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
Arrange your mattress, pillows in a comfortable way.
Use your bedroom only for sleeping.
You can schedule times to actively worry, as this prevents your mind to turn on the worrying mode the moment you lay down to get some sleep.
You can even write your to-do list in the day time, to prevent your mind from worrying about what you have got to do the next day.
There is a common treatment called Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people with anxiety disorders. It treats people by talking them out of negative thinking. It has proven to have success in reducing anxiety even with insomniacs. But for some people, the anxiety might still prevail. For those people, (CBT-I) can be of help.
Sleep is essential in everyone's lives. Eventually, irrespective of how bad sleeper one can be, we all sleep. So, when it is hard for us to sleep, instead of worrying, let us do the necessary arrangement to have good quality sleep as we all know worrying does more damage than insomnia itself.