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6 Lessons From an Insomniac

By HERWriter
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6 Lessons From An Insomniac djoronimo/Fotolia

We’ve all had those nights — the ones where we lie awake, looking at the clock, watching the shadows shift on the wall, flipping over and over, feeling like sleep will never come.

Perhaps we are anxious or excited for an upcoming event, or still reeling from some occurrence earlier in the day, and unable to quiet our mind. Maybe we ate or drank something that is keeping our body up — caffeine or sugar, or something else completely.

Or it’s possible that our regular sleep schedule has been disrupted — travel and time change, a long nap in the middle of the day, a lack of exercise.

Whatever the reason, HOPEFULLY these sleepless nights don’t strike you too often.

But what about when they do?

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.”

The Sleep Foundation explains that insomnia is characterized by duration — acute insomnia is brief and attributed to life circumstance (like those listed above) whereas chronic insomnia is “disrupted sleep that occurs over at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months.”

I never imagined that my propensity for waking up at 2:45 a.m. every night and being unable to return to sleep for an hour would be categorized as insomnia. But there you go. Apparently, I am one of the 30 percent of Americans that struggle with the condition.

So, what lessons have I learned as an insomniac?

1) Get up! Move and stretch!

Sometimes, lying in bed and attempting to sleep before my mind or body is ready only makes me more restless or antsy. When I get the jitters in bed, sometimes a little physical activity is enough to jog me out of whatever mode is keeping me awake.

I like to get up and do a couple active but calming movements. I choose stretches or exercises that activate my muscles and require some mind-body connectivity, but that won't increase my heart rate greatly.

“Diseases and Conditions: Insomnia” Mayo Clinic. Website Accessed 3/26/16.

“Insomnia”. National Sleep Foundation. Website Accessed 3/26/16.

“Sleep Scientists Discount Sheep”. New Scientist. Website Accessed 3/28/16.

“Getting Enough Sleep?” Centers for Disease Control and Preventions. Website Accessed 3/27/16.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Can I be kindly informed why my comment on insomnia was not posted!
Maria Jasmine Freeman

April 9, 2016 - 1:49am

This a v good article, and a crucial one. Insomnia is extremely hard, driving one to vicious cycle, of sleep counting and insomnia. Your suggested strategies are great for combatting it, however unfortunately often they do not help.
I would of course consider organic causes for insomnia, for example a restless leg syndrome from a kidney disorder, sleep apnea and respiratory obstruction, neurological disorders, vitamin or iron deficiencies, endocrine diseases, depression, and more. If evidently none of these exists, ur only option is to resort to ur above-mentioned advice. I would add a little more on it. Since serotonin conduces to sleep, it is advised to increase intake of its precursors, before bed-time; milk, yoghurt, Carbohydrates, bananas, lettuce, dark chocolate.etc..Also, high -Magnesium foods help as to muscle relaxation; bananas, dates, nuts, sesame, dried fruits, and dark chocolate, etc.. Besides, distracting ur thoughts by concentrating on an unusual issue, or repeated words, can help. More, drinking some soporific products, like sage, fennel, mandarins distillate, and anise, n chamomile , are helpful.
Finally, we ought to consider menopause, the great mimimic of any disorder. I grappled for years with horrid insomnia, on account of it, with shivering, shakiness, and much more, and thanks heaven much has gone, but still a milder version remains.
I am ready to tell my story, if of interest, as there is a plethora more to be told.
Maria Jasmine Freeman(Dr Hana Fayyad)

April 9, 2016 - 1:27am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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