In Search of… Information on Insomnia

Since I had yet another fun filled night of dreams and delusions I decided to do some research on insomnia. Nice to know that I’m not alone – 20% of the population will experience insomnia at some point in their lifetime.

Unfortunately the really interesting bits are locked away in scholarly journals I don’t have access to (I’m hoping there is a “yet” in there). But with a little judicious Googling I was able to find some additional information in the hope that tonight will be better

The Three most Common Causes of Insomnia

Snoring, Stress & Lifestyle

First – I’m going to assume that I don’t snore. In 20 years of relationships I’m sure someone would have mentioned it. So I don’t have to worry about that.

Second – Stress sounded like a good target. Part of their description is “When the mind is occupied, it is hard for it to shut off and sleep.” They mention reliving events, conversations, etc. All that good work stress stuff. Like when I started a new job and used Excel for the first time all day long. I dreamed about spreadsheets for weeks.  

This article recommended that I use aromatherapy or background music to quiet my mind. Nothing that smells is a possibility in my life but I could try my “soother” I love the sound of thunderstorms and that may successfully occupy my brain and let me sleep.

I’ve decided for the next several weeks to give up all alcohol and to limit my caffeine to coffee in the morning and tea only until 3 ish.

Third – Well, yes… I don’t maintain a normal schedule anymore, I could probably cut down on caffeine and alcohol, and although I have a new mattress I could use new pillows.

I’ll try and maintain a normal schedule – I wanted to get to bed early last night (10 pm) and it really didn’t work.

Oh, and melatonin and some chamomile tea 30 minutes before I go to bed sounds easy enough.

And then for the bad news article… if the “sufferer has experienced continuously broken sleep patterns for more than four weeks…a symptom of something far more serious – clinical depression.”

Lovely – I’ve been in this state for at least six weeks and probably more.

Interestingly enough the same article hinted at another player in the insomnia game – allergies. Well, I’ve got those in spades. Wonder if they might be adding to something going on in my life?

Oh, and then I found the article that stated even “extreme joy” is a stressor. So maybe it isn’t stress but the joy I feel in my new life and my subconscious is just trying to help me out with so many ideas for stories I can’t stay asleep.  

The article did go into some of the science behind my lack of sleep.

“Furthermore, chronically elevated levels of cortisol and its precursor, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), can make sleep shallow, fragmented, and unrestful; delay the onset of sleep; and produce more frequent nocturnal awakenings.”

Oh, we are getting somewhere that sounds like me.

“Do you observe a nightwatch, awakening to muse or meditate some time during the late night or early morning? That’s normal, too, and it can be richly rewarding.”

Yes, my whole night is one long nightwatch – with ideas tumbling out of nowhere. Please no one ask me how creative people get their ideas after this. I’d actually like a bit fewer of them.

I’m so liking this writer – however he wants me to buy his book to discover his secret to good sleep without drugs.

But there has to be more information out there that isn’t locked away in scholarly journals and books I can’t afford to buy.

Sleep Foundation  has a list of things you can do for stress induced insomnia.

  • First, set your bedtime and your wake-up time according to the number of hours of sleep you are getting currently. For example, if you are sleeping only five hours a night (even though you usually plan to spend eight hours in bed), set your sleep time for that amount. Then gradually increase the amount of time allotted for sleep by 15 minutes or so every few nights. The idea is to “squeeze out” the middle of the nighttime awakening and gradually increase the amount of sleep you will get during the night.
  • Spend some time “winding down.” A person with insomnia needs a “buffer zone,” a period of time to allow the activating processes in the brain to wind down to allow the alerting mechanisms to decrease their activity so that the sleep systems can take over. I suggest that you start winding down two hours before bedtime. Stop all work and end phone calls to family and friends, as often they are activating. Watching television is all right in the evening. However, an hour before bed, I recommend reading or listening to music.
  • Finally, focus on conditioning yourself for different sleep behavior. Insomnia is painful for people—it can take control of their lives. When someone suffering from insomnia walks into their bedroom, they often feel anxious, uncomfortable and tense, as they know from their experience that they might spend the night tossing and turning. They need to set up a situation so that they like going to their bedroom. The bedroom should be visually pleasing and very comfortable. One should use the bedroom only for sleep, sex, and changing clothes, pleasant activities, and if awake in the night should leave the bed and bedroom and spend “unpleasant” times awake in another room. “Waking” activities such as working on the computer, talking with one’s partner, talking on the phone and watching TV should take place out of the bedroom.  

No stress when I enter my bedroom. But I probably should get up rather than toss and turn when it gets stressful in the middle of the night.

Lots of food for thought and I’ll muse on these for a little bit longer and see what I can change quickly.

Here’s to some good night’s sleep!

~ Tess

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2 Comments

Filed under Science & Technology

2 responses to “In Search of… Information on Insomnia

  1. Jon

    Tess,
    Are you getting enough exercise? Do you get out and walk outside and get some fresh air? I hope something breaks through for you. Lack of sleep can really wear on one’s body. I enjoy your posts.

    Jon

    • Jon – You are right, I need to get outside more even though my exercise schedule is pretty good. Usually 4 cardios of 45 to 60 mins a week plus weight training… although this week not so good. Apparently the best things was the Billy Joel/Elton John concert last night. Slept from 1 am to 6 am Whoop! Glad you are enjoying the posts! ~ Tess

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