Have a hard time falling or staying asleep during the night? You must be suffering from insomnia. Most of us are already familiar with this sleep disorder which is characterized by regularly struggling to fall asleep, waking up several times during the night, waking up too early even if you had less sleep, difficulties in trying to take a nap during the day, and feeling tired and irritable. Sounds horrible, right? Up to 70 million Americans every year are affected by this disorder. The amount of sleep needed for us to function at our best varies from person to person but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, most adults need at least 7–9 hours of sleep every night, depending on their age. Knowing what this sleep-related disorder is and learning how to break the insomnia cycle are very important because well, everyone deserves to have a good night’s sleep.
Insomnia can be short-term or ongoing. Acute insomnia which usually lasts for just a few days or weeks can be a result of family pressures or conflict, stress at work, or a traumatic experience. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, can last a month or longer. It can be primary or secondary. Sleeplessness, not linked to any existing medical condition, mental health issues, or environmental factors is called primary. On the other hand, secondary is when symptoms arise because of medical illness, mental disorders, or other sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea and Narcolepsy.
According to research, this sleep disorder is mainly caused by a state of Hyperarousal. It is defined as the increase in activity of ascending reticular activating system (nerves at our brainstem that filter out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through) or a reduction in the adaptive drive to sleep. This can be physical and mental and it can be triggered by many factors:
Can be both the primary cause or the result of insomnia. Work, school, and social relationships are the most common stress triggers. Others also experience it due to traumatic situations including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Greatly affects the quality of our sleep. Many of us might not be aware that unhealthy habits are the main reason why we cannot have that much-needed snooze. Using electronic devices such as mobile phones and video games, an unhealthy diet, too much caffeine, and alcohol intake are just some of the examples. Taking late naps in the afternoon can also throw off your sleep timing.
Irregular Sleep Schedules
Circadian Rhythm is an internal process that controls the pattern of time we spend awake and asleep roughly every 24 hours (also known as the sleep-wake cycle). Changes in sleep schedules affect the circadian rhythm. People who had just traveled to a different time zone or those who need to work on a night shift may experience difficulties following their usual sleep pattern. But there are also cases where shifts in the circadian rhythm happen without a clear cause.
Other factors that attribute to poor sleep are physical and mental health disorders, neurological problems, medications, pregnancy, and age.
Tips on How to Break the Insomnia Cycle
While some of the symptoms need medical attention to be treated, there are also things that we can do to prevent or manage cases of insomnia. Tackling the root causes and making simple changes to your habits and routines such as creating a sleep schedule and sticking to it, staying active, avoiding large meals and drinks before bedtime, limiting activities in bed, and creating a comfortable sleeping environment are just some of the ways how to break the insomnia cycle. In addition to these, there are also activities that may help you achieve that deep, restful sleep.
Mindfulness Meditation is about breathing techniques and focusing the attention on the present moment blocking away all worries and problems. This technique helps establish feelings of relaxation and calmness.
Before closing your eyes every night, try to recite words that you think can give you a restful and peaceful sleep. It can be anything from words of gratitude to words of encouragement or short lyrics from your favorite song, as long as this mantra can give you peace of mind and can help you let go of anxious thoughts and worries.
A Harvard Medical School study found that a regular yoga practice improved sleep efficiency. Yoga exercises involve stretching and relaxing of muscles causing significant physical and mental exertion resulting in less sleep latency, more deep sleep, fewer sleep disturbances, and better sleep. The following are simple asana (yoga techniques) on how to break the insomnia cycle:
Paschimottanasana (Queen Pose)
Stretch your knees and place your palms next to them while sitting on your hips. Extend your arms and grab both the toes with your fingers and thumb. Bend down from the pelvic region of the back while maintaining a concave back. Relax your shoulders and try to get your forehead between the knees. If you can’t get the forehead completely down, gaze at the toes. Rest your elbows on the mat and stay in this pose for 2-3 minutes. Inhale, raise the head from the knees, and relax.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose)
Stand straight and keep the knees tight. Exhale then bend forward without bending your knees. Place the palms on the floor next to the feet. Stretch the spine to get your head as close to the knees as possible. You may also place your palms behind your ankle. Hold still and take a few breaths. Inhale and straighten your spine.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Start by lying flat on your back with palms facing down. Raise your legs and hips up while keeping your chin close to your chest. Then, using your palms to support your lower back, lift it off the mat while keeping your knees and back straight. Breathing deeply, gaze at the point between the toes. You can also close your eyes. Remain in this position for 3-4 minutes. Lastly, relax your palms and come down gently.
This might sound a bit common, but listening to soothing music especially the music of your choice can improve the quality of your sleep. This can be attributed to being able to block external or environmental factors that affect sleep such as the sound of traffic or filling uncomfortable silence. Research also concludes that people who listen to music before snoozing off can reach restful REM sleep – the restorative part of our sleep – more quickly.
A relaxing massage increases the immediate production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep) which leads to better sleep quality and has the effect of eliminating insomnia. This doesn’t mean going out every day to go to your favorite day spa or massage salon. You can either do it with your partner or learn how to do a massage yourself. Setting the mood like playing relaxing music, dimming the lights, and lighting a scented candle together with your favorite massage oil can do the trick!
CBN is known for its benefits in improving the quality of sleep. Studies show that compared to CBD, CBN contains more powerful sedative properties making it a go-to for people who suffer from insomnia.
Scientists have discovered CBN’s potential to alleviate insomnia since 1976. A popular study conducted in 1995 showcased the compound’s influence in managing occasional insomnia, restless nights, and difficulty staying asleep throughout the night hence promoting a healthy sleep cycle. CBN, short for cannabinol, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid naturally found in the hemp plant. Even though it was a result of the degradation of THC, it does not generate any psychoactive effects. This non-habit-forming supplement is best known for its calming effects and is best taken at least an hour before bedtime. CBN can be taken in different ways. It can be in a form of a tincture, gummy, or capsule.
Having a restful sleep is something we shouldn’t be deprived of. It plays an important role in our well-being. Not being able to sleep properly will not just affect your mood and level of energy but also your family life, relationships, work performance, and overall quality of life. It can also lead to mental and physical health issues. Finding ways how to break the insomnia cycle is a must and luckily, there are some activities that we can incorporate into the daily routine that might save us from having another restless night, including taking supplements such as CBN oil, gummy, or capsule!