I didn’t sleep again last night. This insomnia is incessant because my mind won’t settle. I really need to learn how to relax. What better way to make use of the sleep deprivation at 4am than by writing a blog post about it.
I’ve used the analogy of the chicken and the egg, because even though depression and insomnia go hand in hand, it’s difficult to know which came first. There’s a vicious cycle where depression and anxiety can affect your sleep, and continual lack of sleep has a negative impact on your mental health. Are you depressed because you can’t sleep or are you sleep deprived because you’re depressed? It’s a cycle I know all too well is hard to break free from.
The recommended amount of sleep a person should have is 8 hours, but I can’t remember for the life of me the last time I’ve slept for that long. I’ve suffered with difficulty sleeping for as long as I can remember, so I’ve got insomnia down to a fine art.
As a child I used to suffer with nightmares and sleep paralysis. The sleep paralysis was by far one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. Thank goodness it’s been a number of years since I’ve had to endure any episodes.
During a typical night, Usually I’d wake up around 4.00am, sometimes 5.00am. I can’t get back to sleep then, which during the working week is no good for my brain functioning. I’ll yawn my way through the day. I’m grumpy and irritable, and even though I’m extremely tired, I know when it’s bedtime it’ll take me forever to get to sleep and then when I eventually do, I’m lucky if I get 4 it 5 hours sleep.
There are steps we can take however to try and win the battle against insomnia.
Make your bedroom your happy place – and by this I mean creating a restful and peaceful environment, so not being tempted to switch on the TV and watch your favourite programme before bed or catching up on what’s going on in the land of social media. Instead listen to some relaxing music, make sure the light on your room is just right, the temperature is not too hot or cold, and your bed is comfy.
Having a regular sleep routine – try to go to bed at the same time each night. Having a consistent routine will help you to sleep better, improve your mood, concentration, and memory.
Cut out the caffeine – not only is caffeine a stimulant but it’ll also keep you running up and down to the bathroom to pee during night (trust me I know). Try to cut your intake of tea, coffee, energy drinks and cola for several hours before bedtime or switch to caffeine-free herbal teas like camomile.
Limit food and alcohol intake – a big meal late at night will interrupt your sleep, and cause you to gain weight as you won’t be able to burn any of those calories off. Although you may fall asleep quickly after having one or two glasses of wine, your sleep will also be disturbed as alcohol is a stimulant as well as a sedative.
Stop smoking – nicotine is a stimulant and will affect you getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Try some exercise – introducing some exercise into your normal routine will not only help to improve your insomnia symptoms, it will also help to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
Please leave a comment, I’d be interested to know what techniques you use to help you sleep.
Sweet dreams x