The CDC describes sleep problems as a “public health epidemic,” with an estimated 50-70 million people having sleep difficulties. There are numerous sleep problems, but chronic insomnia is one of the most disruptive.
There are multiple types of insomnia, but in general, insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep.
The vicious cycle of insomnia might make people more anxious during nighttime, thus aggravating the scenario further.
Keep reading below to learn more about some of the factors that can lead to developing insomnia and solutions to help you deal with insomnia.
What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Sleep can impact your ability to stay healthy in various ways, and learning about the role that sleep plays in your health can help you make the necessary changes in your lifestyle to defeat insomnia.
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and failing to get enough sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, issues with balance, and memory problems. Additionally, not sleeping could lead to cold sores and several other health problems you wouldn’t normally consider.
Here are a few other impacts that not getting enough sleep has on your life:
Sleep & Mood
Your sleep impacts your mood, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Failing to get the recommended amount of sleep can make you less able to regulate your emotions and increase your risk of developing some psychiatric disorders.
According to a study published in Current Opinion in Neurology, functional imaging studies contrasting sleep-deprived and well-rested brains provide significant evidence that sleep is critical for optimal cognitive function and learning.
If you don’t sleep well, you will have a more difficult time remembering events, learning new things, making decisions, and retaining memories. In particular, REM sleep is vital for storing memories.
REM sleep helps the brain organize memories so that you can recall them long after they have happened.
Reduced Skin Quality and Premature Wrinkles
When you do not get enough sleep, your body releases an increased amount of the stress hormone called cortisol, leading to skin issues such as premature wrinkles. To maintain your skin health and improve your skin quality, you need to get enough sleep!
Getting enough sleep each night can improve your chance of resisting wrinkles, dark circles, and facial lines.
Increased Chance of Obesity
Research indicates that people who do not get enough sleep each night are more likely to gain weight and become obese.
According to a study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, sleep loss may play a role in the increased prevalence of diabetes and/or obesity, as current data suggests the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain, and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways:
- Alterations in Glucose Metabolism
- Upregulation of Appetite
- Decreased energy expenditure.
In particular, those who do not get at least six hours of sleep every night commonly struggle with their weight. Researchers hypothesize that the hormone leptin, which tells the body that it is full, is present in lower numbers in people who are sleep deprived.
Also, the body produces increased amounts of the hormone ghrelin, which tells the body it is hungry.
Furthermore, eating issues such as Night Eating Syndrome can be developed due to sleep issues. Fortunately, healthy sleep patterns (as discussed on the Sleep Advisor) can positively impact Night Eating Syndrome.
Therefore, when you don’t get enough sleep, you want to eat more, and you don’t feel full after eating.
Although seven hours is the minimum you should be sleeping each night, sleeping eight to nine hours each night is a great way to lose weight overnight because it will allow your body time to recover and stabilize, providing many benefits for your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Sleep and Hormones
Insufficient sleep will alter your hormone production. Hormones are essential signals for many processes in your body, and when you do not get enough sleep, your endocrine system cannot reliably function to produce the necessary hormones.
Human growth hormone, for example, is usually produced within the first few hours of sleep. Therefore, you can increase your HGH levels naturally by getting enough sleep each night, which will improve your health in numerous ways.
Additionally, as mentioned above, sleep deprivation affects important hormones that deal with feelings of hunger, fullness, and the like. Once these hormones are affected, your diet suffers from inconsistency, and so does your health and body weight.
What Causes Insomnia?
There are several causes of insomnia. Factors that cause insomnia range from stress to poor sleeping conditions. Having the right mattress and bedding is a good starting point to prevent insomnia, but diet, exercise, screen time, environment, and other factors can also contribute to insomnia.
Here are some of the main causes of insomnia:
Inconsistent Sleep Patterns
A primary cause of insomnia is having an inconsistent sleep pattern or failing to create a healthy sleep routine.
Going to sleep earlier or later than your normal sleep time can cause disruptions in your sleep pattern, and inconsistencies can reduce the chance you can sleep well each night.
Develop a sleep routine that you use every night to help you fall asleep consistently.
Drinking alcohol at night may make you feel weary and sleepy, but it is generally not healthy for your sleep schedule.
Drinking red wine before bed may positively affect your heart and your sleep cycle because it has a high melatonin content, but generally, drinking alcohol before sleep is not good for getting enough sleep each night and avoiding insomnia.
Watching TV in Your Bedroom
Watching television in bed can promote insomnia and impact your sleep quality because television emits blue light, disrupting your natural melatonin production.
If you watch television before heading to sleep, try watching in a living room and turning the television off 30-45 minutes before you head to sleep.
Avoiding television before sleeping can help your body naturally produce melatonin and improve how easily you fall asleep and how well you stay asleep.
Sleeping on the Wrong Mattress
The right mattress can improve the quality of your sleep. On the other hand, the wrong options can make things uncomfortable for you. As much as possible, you need to avoid sleeping on a futon, bed, or mattress that doesn’t have the right type of firmness, support, or construction.
If you need help finding a mattress that you can comfortably sleep on every night, I suggest checking out a mattress buyers guide. There are many good options for every budget range, and sleeping on a mattress suited to your needs can make a huge difference!
How to Overcome Insomnia
There are numerous things you can do to overcome insomnia, including:
- Avoid Electronic Devices Before Bed
- Stop Caffeine Intake After 2:00 p.m.
- Don’t Drink Alcohol Before Bed
- Exercise Regularly
- Find the Right Mattress and Pillow
- Use Breathable Bed Sheets
- Avoid Napping Too Much
- Manage Stress
Keep reading below to learn more about these and other tips for overcoming insomnia.
Melatonin Supplements and Insomnia
Melatonin is principally secreted at night and is centrally involved in sleep regulation and several other cyclical bodily activities. In addition, melatonin is exclusively involved in signaling the time of day to all tissues and is thus considered the body’s chronological pacemaker.
Due to cell phones, televisions, laptops, and other devices with bright lights, our normal melatonin production is reduced. However, unlike other mammals, our melatonin production does not improve by removing lights in your sleeping area for one night or not looking at your computer for a day.
According to a study produced in the journal Science, bright artificial light can suppress the nocturnal secretion of melatonin in normal human subjects.
Fortunately, taking a melatonin supplement can promote your melatonin secretion and help you sleep better.
According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, exogenous (supplemental) melatonin, when administered appropriately, seems to normalize circadian variation in human physiology.
In my opinion, the best melatonin supplement is:
[lasso box=”B0013NB6ZQ” link_id=”3571″ ref=”natures-bounty-melatonin-100-drug-free-sleep-aid-dietary-supplement-promotes-relaxation-and-sleep-health-1mg-180-tablets” id=”15037″]
I chose this as the best melatonin supplement because it is cheap and effective. One product which I have not personally tried yet, but I think could be excellent is:
[lasso box=”B07N46LTJJ” link_id=”3572″ ref=”zzzquil-pure-zzzs-melatonin-sleep-aid-gummies-helps-you-fall-asleep-naturally-wildberry-vanilla-flavor-chamomile-lavender-valerian-root-1mg-per-gummy-72-count” id=”15188″]
This product contains one mg of melatonin per dosage, which I believe is optimal for me. Also, I love the additional chamomile, lavender, and valerian root extract. Although I have not used this product yet, I use a product while living in Poland called “Na Sen Forte, ” a Polish melatonin supplement that includes Lavender and other herbal roots.
Melatonin isn’t the only supplement I take before bed, as I also take zinc before bed to improve my sleep quality. However, melatonin supplements can be especially beneficial for overcoming insomnia.
Another natural solution for better sleep is trying a sleep aid like Utzy Naturals Stay Asleep, which I’ve reviewed in-depth. This supplement is designed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
Remove Phones and Tablets From Your Sleeping Space
Most people charge their phones while they sleep, which means they carry them to the bedroom, which tempts them to go on social media, make calls, or even play games while in bed.
If possible, charge your phone far away from you, preferably in the next room, to avoid getting distracted.
Sleep In Cool Conditions
One of the factors that might affect your sleep is inappropriate room temperature. To fall asleep, the hypothalamus decreases your body temperature as a sleep initiator.
When the body is too hot, it is difficult to fall asleep.
There are various factors that influence your comfort when getting into bed, but having a cool room to sleep in is one of the primary ways you can overcome insomnia.
Invest In A Good Mattress
A reliable mattress is a great option to help you fall asleep and support you throughout the sleep process. If you do not have one already, mattress stores offer several options for every kind of sleeper.
You can also search online for the best kinds of mattresses. For example, we hear a lot of positive things about Aireloom.
Sometimes the mattress you are sleeping on is the main cause of your insomnia since you can’t fall asleep comfortably!
Sleep In a Dark Room
Light disturbs your sleep pattern. You should always make your room as dark as possible for the best sleeping conditions, so turn the lights off or wear a sleeping mask to prevent excessive light while you are asleep.
Limit Caffeine Intake
As much as you love coffee, it may be the biggest hindrance in inducing sleep.
Caffeinated coffee and tea should be avoided for a minimum of 8 hours before bedtime to prevent insomnia. It would be even better to avoid caffeine intake for 12 hours before bedtime if possible.
If you exercise regularly, you can vouch for how much better your sleep is after a long day that includes exercise.
Exercise affects your sleep in many positive ways. It increases your sleep quality, but it also increases your amount of sleep and helps reduce stress and relieve anxiety.
While the National Institute of Health and the American Heart Association suggests that you get a minimum of 150 hours of exercise per week, getting more is even better. People who exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day experience the benefits of exercise on their sleep.
You can adjust your workout routine to optimize your sleeping goals and vice versa.
However, one thing to look out for is your timing. Your exercise timing changes the way it affects your body.
If you’re an athlete in training and need to perform high-intensity training, this should be done at least 3 hours before sleep.
Strenuous exercise too close to bedtime can hurt your sleep quality. Therefore keep your cardio and running in the mornings. However, low-intensity workouts like yoga can be done before you go to bed.
A study cited in Psychology Today confirmed that regular exercise contributes to better sleep but doesn’t have an immediate effect. The study showed that we have to be consistent over weeks or even months to reap the benefits of exercise on our sleep.
Read Before Sleeping
If you often have trouble sleeping, try making reading a bedtime ritual.
Reading signals the body to wind down and prepare for sleep. Since reading reduces stress, it helps battle insomnia and helps your system close down, ensuring a good night’s sleep.
Develop a Regular Sleep-Wake Cycle
Your body conditions itself according to the routine you set. For example, consistent sleepers have well-tuned and synchronized rhythms on a regular sleep-wake cycle.
Therefore you should create a routine that soothes your mind and helps you unwind. You can try taking a shower, reading a book, or even watching TV, but whatever it is, you should distance yourself from stressful activities that tire you out.
Writing in your journal may also help you release the negative energy and sleep with peace of mind.
I prefer to do a yoga video from YogaDownload.com before bed each night, which helps me relax and prepare for sleep.
Use a Weighted Blanket
If you are interested in trying a new, unique sleep aid, check out Weighting Comforts Weighted Banket!
Weighted blankets are an emerging trend, but they have proven sleep benefits. Weighted blankets can reduce stress and anxiety and help you overcome insomnia.
Concluding Thoughts – Dealing with Insomnia Naturally
By utilizing the tips mentioned above, I am confident you can overcome insomnia and begin getting enough sleep each night.
Insomnia can harm your health in various ways, but it is not a permanent condition, and you can defeat it.