Image provided by Giphy
Insomnia – noun;
Insomnia is something that I have suffered from since the beginning of my college career. I’m not sure if the tough college workload was the cause of it, or whether it was traumatic events that took place throughout my late teen years that truly caused it to be a problem for me. But from that time period on up until now, getting the right amount of sleep has hindered productivity for me chronically. Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that is highly common among teens and adults all over the world. Some may not even know that they suffer from it to be honest. Most of the time the main symptom or sign that you may suffer from insomnia is, well, you can’t sleep throughout the night. Some may not sleep at all, and some may fall asleep but can’t stay asleep long enough to get the proper amounts of rest and relaxation needed for a full day of work and responsibility. For me personally, my biggest problem 9 times out of 10 is staying asleep, getting there is no problem as I am always sleepy a majority of the time.
During the very beginning of my college years, I had no problem going or staying asleep. Everything was great and I was keeping up with my workload ahead of schedule with no issues. Things didn’t get bad for me until the second semester of my freshman year when I found it very tough for me to just fall asleep. I would try everything from even walking more than a mile at 1-3 am in the morning just to force myself to get some rest and it just would not work. At first, I never thought this was a medical condition. I thought like any other person did, maybe I was just too tired to even sleep at the time. Instead of me sulking and complain of lack of sleep, I would just use this time to get more work done on a regular basis instead at first. Cramming for exams, designing during late night hours where there were no human distractions while everyone else was asleep, even getting additional workouts in. It was a great substitute for some time, but everything changed very fast for me there as well.
I knew my insomnia had become a bigger problem than what I initially thought after finding it harder and harder to concentrate on different activities throughout the day. Something as simple as paying attention to a television show became a problem, which led to bigger problems of me getting my work done daily. Things got really bad when I didn’t go to sleep at all for about three days straight at one point in time. I knew this was not healthy at all and I could no longer counter it with being overly productive because even though I couldn’t go to sleep, I was still dangerously exhausted daily.
Once I realized that this no sleep lifestyle was doing more harm for me personally and professionally than good, and I stopped being able to counter it, I began to seek outside help. First step was going to the doctor to see what was going on, in which my doctor referred me towards counseling. From that one counseling session, I was clinically diagnosed with insomnia set on depression. What this means is that my insomnia has been being brought on by another factor, depression. My depression had gotten so bad that it was not only preventing me from being as truly happy as I deserved to be at the time, but it was also preventing me from sleeping all together. I didn’t even know it was possible to become so sad that you wouldn’t be able to sleep at all at the time. Even though my diagnosis gave me the answers that I needed then, it didn’t help towards the healing process of fixing the problem. For me, personally, I do not believe in loading yourself down with medications to treat certain problems if you don’t necessarily need to. Instead of the sleeping pills recommended, I opted for more self-care by paying attention to my body and mind on a regular.
Steps to Treating Insomnia
To start my process of healing from insomnia, I began researching ways others around the world have fought against the chronic sleeping disorder, asking around word of mouth to others in my area who also suffered from the sleeping disorder, and I even checked myself to see what I was actually doing wrong to cause this problem. Check out the regimen and steps I have taken and have found to help counter the effects of insomnia below:
Salt Baths infused with lavender have helped towards allowing me to sleep better through the week. I often do one a week, preferably on Sunday or Monday nights to begin my week. These are often done at night right before bed as the lavender infused salt added to your bath water makes you naturally sleepy. My salt of choice comes from our affiliate Target, check it out here.
Diet plays a major role in insomnia surprisingly for some. The more junk food I ate, the more it countered any healing I was trying to do from my sleeping disorder. When I began eating more fruits and vegetables, not only did I notice a better change in my mood, but I also found that overtime it became easier for me to fall asleep at night. I also cut out eating so much right before bed, especially meats. Instead, I opt for maybe a small glass of red wine right before bed, or I’ll drink a full bottle of clean water as a substitute. Water is also a substitute for coffee in the mornings as well. Coffee actually made my sleep pattern worse.
Daily Activity changed a lot for me after my diagnosis. Really it increased more than anything. I found that the less I was active throughout the day, the harder it was for me to sleep at night. With the type of insomnia I suffer from that doesn’t allow me to stay asleep, I would often move towards more naps throughout the day which was a bad decision for me. The naps would have my brain activity sleep pattern completely messed up. Now I force myself to stay awake, up and active for a majority of the day until my scheduled bed time at night.
Change Your Mindset is an article that I wrote a while back that has helped towards fighting my insomnia. Check it out below by clicking the image.
Sleep Schedule help a lot! This is something that you’d think we as adults would have down pat by now but ironically this is something that most adults struggle with over time due to responsibilities like raising children and work habits. For me, I always make sure that throughout the week I make it to bed by at least 10pm each night, even on the weekends. Or at least be in the process of prepping myself (shower/bath, relaxing, etc.) for bed by that time. Your wake up time matters as well. For me, it is counter productive to go to bed at 10pm at night and stay in bed until 1-2pm the next day. I always make sure I have a wake up time of at least between 6-8am instead so my schedule will allow me to also stay busy throughout the day.
Of course these are only recommendations and should not substitute any recommendations or medications given to you already by your physician at all. Some things that may work for me, may not work for you and that’s fine. We are not all the same. If you have suffered from the sleeping disorder insomnia and would like to share your story or experience below, feel free to comment in our comment section below!
Sleepless Nights – Jon Hamilton
National Sleep Foundation
Follow all updates weekly using hashtag #MentalHealthMondays
Suicide Hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) and 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)