It has long been known that healthy sleep is the basis of health and good mood. Regular lack of sleep and insomnia leads to a decrease in immunity, increased fatigue, and depression. “Ebizz.co.uk,” together with “Beeline,” studied the problem of insomnia and learned several ways to overcome it. To understand all the intricacies of this issue, we were helped by Associate Professor of the Department of Nervous Diseases of Sechenov Medical University, Head of the Department of Sleep Medicine, Neurologist Mubeen Arshad.
What is insomnia, and where does it come from?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that manifests itself as a subjective feeling of insufficient or inadequate sleep. The key is precisely the subjective sensation. It happens that a person has a good dream, but he is still unhappy with it. Insomnia is a matter of human perception of their sleep. The cause of insomnia can be a real sleep disturbance – insufficient deep sleep, a torn dream with frequent awakenings, or when a person falls asleep for a long time. This is one problem.
Another is the problem of sleep perception. A person can perceive a good dream as bad. This is also insomnia. That is, there are two types of insomnia – mental and neurological. The most common cause of insomnia is stress. According to statistics, insomnia associated with stress develops in a quarter of all people on the planet during the year.
And stress can be very different. Most often, its cause is interpersonal communication: a person has quarreled with someone and cannot sleep, because he thinks about it. There is stress associated with heavy loads. Even a long-term job assignment is stressful. Stress is related to a change in normal living conditions, moving to a new place, and a change in environment. And, of course, the most painful stress is associated with loved ones: a change in marital status or a close family member’s illness. Sleep disturbances often accompany such fears.
Read Alos: Why you constantly want to sleep?
If the cause does not stress, insomnia is most likely caused by an illness. However, usually amid infectious diseases, sleep improves. The product of the immune response to external infectious agents has sleeping pills. But there are times when sleep; on the contrary, is disturbed. For example, against a background of joint diseases, heart disease, and stomach.
How to deal with insomnia?
In most cases, sleeping pills help. But you need to remember that there is no such medicine that would be completely effective. Before offering a new drug to the public, it is necessary to prove not that it works 100%, but that its effect exceeds the effect of placebo, dummy. If a specific sleeping pill does not help you – most likely, it does not suit you. Treatment is an individual matter.
However, one should not think that insomnia can be treated only with chemistry. The leading cause of insomnia (non-stress, and chronic – one that, for some reason, continues, even if stress has long been over) is psychology. A man obsessed with his problem. He begins to worry about his dream. In the afternoon, when he does not need to sleep, he does not think about sleep, he is calm. And in the evening, when he needs to fall asleep, he starts to wind up: yesterday I did not sleep, the day before yesterday I did not sleep, today suddenly I will not sleep again?
Overexcitation comes from this, and it does not fall asleep. Psychological techniques are used to treat this type of insomnia. The leader now is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is not hypnosis, but a particular form of psychotherapy, when a person is explained in what he behaves correctly and whatnot. His behavior is modified in such a way that step by step to improve sleep. This is a complicated, painstaking job that stretches for six weeks.
Worldwide, this therapy is the number one method in treating insomnia. This method is practically not used in Russia since it is laborious and requires specially trained specialists. In Russia, work in this direction was carried out only by specialists of the First Medical Institute: they experimented, defended a dissertation. Now employees of the institute are preparing an online version of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which allows this treatment to be carried out situationally. And yet there are several techniques to improve sleep.
How we struggled with insomnia
Our editorial staff member Kristina is 24 years old; sleep problems haunt her almost all her life. “From early childhood, I harassed my parents crying every night because I could not sleep for hours. Daytime sleep was then a rarity for me, but now it’s something from the realm of fantasy. Later, as a teenager, I often went on trips with classmates, where we lived in rooms of four to six people. I noticed that all the guys in the neighboring beds fall asleep just a few minutes after the lights out, while I still have no eyes,” says the girl.
To fall asleep, she always needed at least an hour, complete darkness in the room, silence, and no one nearby in bed.
“In the summer, if I couldn’t fall asleep before dawn, I had to get up at four in the morning, because trying to fall asleep no longer made sense. And sometimes, even if I woke up with a feeling of severe lack of sleep, by the evening it passed, and cheerfulness appeared. Sleeping pills, by the way, never helped. At some point, I realized that I was too hung up on the problem. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep for a long time, and when I finally start to turn off, I catch myself thinking that I’m falling asleep, and the dream immediately leaves.”
With this problem, we turned to the somnologist Mubeen Arshad.
The first and most important thing in improving sleep is maintaining hygiene. Very often, the cause of insomnia is an elementary disturbance in the organization of rest. This is typical for adolescents who play a computer at night and cannot get up in the morning. Older people do not have a tight work schedule; they lie around for many hours in bed, doze off during the day, and wonder why they fall asleep badly in the evening. Therefore, you always need to start by resolving the issue of hygiene and sleep patterns.
There is an unwritten set of rules on sleep hygiene:
- you need to fix the time of laying and the time of rising so that a conditioned reflex is formed so that the brain is prepared for a specific time to relax;
- sleeping conditions should be comfortable, should not be too light, noisy, you need a comfortable bed and blanket;
- before going to bed, you need to limit mental and physical activity. A common mistake is watching TV or reading a book in bed. As soon as a person went to bed, he should be triggered reflex to falling asleep. When people go to bed and begin to have fun, the brain continues to function actively;
- create a ritual of going to bed – for example, drink herbal tea before bedtime. Even though valerian is only slightly larger than a placebo in its effect, and its impact is expressed in a few minutes, the process of such tea-drinking alone sets a person to relaxation.
Ebizz took the advice of a specialist and told us about the progress of the experiment.
What I will do: First of all, I decided to try changing my mode. Starting today, I’ll start to go to bed precisely at midnight, so that I have eight full hours of sleep before the alarm rings (every day I get up at eight in the morning). Also – almost for the first time in my life – I will not read before bedtime.
What happened: I could not sleep for a long time. The brain refused to shut off so early. After lying in bed for about an hour, I turned on the light and still read half an hour. After that, I made a second attempt to fall asleep, which I managed to do after 40 minutes (about two in the morning). The next day I felt tired and could not wait for the evening to go to bed quickly. However, as it always happens, it was by night that I felt a surge of strength.
What I will do: on Tuesdays after work, I usually go to training, which ends at eight in the evening. But this week, as an experiment, I will give up evening classes. Before going to bed, I will make chamomile tea and again lie in bed at exactly midnight on the advice of a somnologist.
What happened: all night, I tossed and turned in bed without sleep. I managed to disconnect for a couple of hours before the rise, but this dream was superficial and shallow. As a result, I got up with a wild headache and felt very tired during the day.
What I will do: today, I’ll try to go to bed in advance so that if I fall asleep for a long time, I have more time to sleep.
What happened: I ventilated the room, at 23:00 I put down my mobile phone, closed the book and turned off the light. Despite my best efforts, insomnia attacked me again. After yesterday’s hard night, I was tormented by the thought that the experiment was a failure, and my problems were simply impossible to solve. I managed to fall asleep only at dawn. And the next day, I again suffered from a headache.
What I will do: instead of training, take a walk after work – before going to bed, breathe fresh air, and calm down. After that, I will drink herbal tea, and again I will lie down at 23:00.
In principle, we managed to fall asleep quickly – after about an hour and a half. I overslept for about eight hours and got up quite quickly. I felt great throughout the day.
What I will do: because – to my surprise – the trick worked, I decided to repeat it the next day. Before going to bed, I went for a short walk and went to bed at the same time. I noticed that my body began to get used to the new schedule, and by night I was already falling asleep.
What happened: Today, the incredible happened: I fell asleep in less than an hour. The adjusted daily routine eventually worked.
What I will do: on the weekend, I will allow myself to sleep longer, so I will set the alarm at 10 a.m.
What happened: I could not go to bed at 23:00 on Friday, but at midnight I was in bed. I quickly disconnected again. This probably happened because I was inspired by the success of the previous two days and did not think about the coming early rise. In the morning, I realized that for the first time in a week, I slept one hundred percent.
What I will do: before the beginning of the working week, you need to repeat the ritual that the somnologist advised, and force yourself to lie down at 23:00 without reading.
I fell asleep longer than in the previous days, but at about half-past four, I was already asleep. I woke up on Monday a little harder than the day before, but my head was fresh, and in general, I felt rested.
How to understand that you have trouble sleeping?
It is normal to fall asleep for 30 minutes. If a person falls asleep in 30 minutes – he has no problems with sleep. If more – he has issues. But there is another criterion that determines the presence of sleep disturbance – how often insomnia occurs. A violation considered three or more nights per week. If a person does not sleep well twice a week, he does not have a sleep disorder; if three, he has a disease.
There are times when insomnia occurs in periods. For example, throughout the week, the dream is terrible, and everything is fine for a whole month. This is just stressful insomnia, which happens to every fourth person. It is not a problem and does not lead to the need to consult doctors or take pills. But if this process delayed, insomnia must be treated. This boundary between stressful and non-stressful wakefulness is three months. It believed that no stress-related insomnia can last longer than three months. If it continues, then there is another problem – a psychological one.
It happens that a person cannot fall asleep for a long time, and when, finally, he falls into a dream, he notices that he is falling asleep and wakes up immediately. This can only combated with the help of psychotherapy. Only it will allow you to remove this excess attention to your sleep. It takes time. You can’t just say directly to a person: “Don’t worry; start sleeping.” He will not stop. For it to “go round,” some work needed.