How to deal with insomnia
Bad nights happen to the best of us, but life won’t wait for us to be well-rested again.
As someone who has sleep anxiety (night-time panic attacks), losing many hours of sleep each day for weeks is a norm.
Like many others, I’ve been affected by Coronasomnia. Coined last year, it refers to insomnia brought about by the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Singaporeans get an average of seven hours of sleep every night, every one in 10 Singaporeans suffer from insomnia. Sleep deprivation is a grave issue as it may lead to accidents, decreased productivity and serious health problems.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which persons affected have trouble sleeping or staying asleep. There are two types of insomnia – primary and secondary. Primary insomnia means your sleep issue isn’t related to any other health condition or problems, and vice versa for secondary insomnia.
Primary insomnia may be caused by changes to your life such as job loss, loss of a loved one or being affected by the pandemic. Secondary insomnia is caused by health conditions or problems such as mental health issues (depression, anxiety), health conditions (asthma, heartburn) or substance use.
Insomnia can also be acute, lasting for a short period of time, or chronic, lasting for at least three nights a week for three months or more.
If you suspect you may have insomnia but aren’t sure, here are a few tell-tale signs.
If you wake up early but can’t go back to sleep, find it hard to take naps during the day even though you’re tired or wake up several times at night, it may be time for you to consult with your doctor about your sleep issues.
How do I ensure I get as much sleep as possible?
While I may not be able to get a full night’s sleep, I always try to ensure that I get as much sleep as possible to prepare myself for the next working day.
Over the years, I’ve incorporated relaxation techniques into my nightly routine. These can be anything ranging from breathing exercises to writing to-do lists to offload my worries 30 minutes before I sleep.
My go-to app to help with my sleep routine is Wysa, a mental wellness app that offers meditation, exercises and various techniques that help with sleeping and relaxing.
Having good sleep hygiene can also be beneficial for obtaining a good night’s sleep.
Sleep hygiene is all about putting yourself in the best position to fall asleep each night. This includes avoiding caffeine and nicotine during the day, not using your bed for activities other than sleeping and not taking naps during the day.
I found that making my bed and bedroom as comfortable as possible can also help in relaxing my body. I see to it that my bed sheets and comforter are washed twice a month, and that I don’t leave piles of clothes or books on my bed before I sleep.
Another way to maintain good sleep hygiene is not using any digital devices half an hour before you sleep.
Tips to feel fresh after a bad night’s sleep
If you find that after doing all that work you still can’t get a full eight hours of sleep and have to get ready for a long day of work and errands, don’t beat yourself up over it.
Instead, try to fit in a mini five-minute exercise into your morning routine to get your blood moving. Hydration can help you stay energised so make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
I try to take short naps as and when I can if I have a long day ahead of me. Public transportation is my main mode of transport, so when I commute between places, I take that as a time to get some rest.
It’s also necessary for you to not skip any of your meals, especially when your body is tired. Diets that contain a range of nutrient-rich foods, such as apples, bananas, oats and almonds, can help you feel less lethargic.
Eating small healthy snacks can also help reduce some of the fatigueness that comes with sleep deprivation. For me, eating yogurt and almonds whenever I take a small break from doing work helps.
Foods that you should avoid are heavily processed food (potato chips, fast food), highly-caffeinated drinks and sugary food. These foods may give you a temporary boost in energy levels but leaves you tired immediately after.
Being sleep-deprived often leaves you feeling exhausted and unmotivated. It’s important to take care of your body as much as possible by eating and drinking properly, as well as taking breaks when needed.
Lastly, remember to have a laugh. Laughter is said to have positive effects on your tired mind and body, like lowering your stress hormones.
Find some relief from your muddy mind and watch a snippet of a stand-up comedy video on YouTube or scroll through funny memes on social media.
I hope these tips help you to overcome insomnia and discover ways to remain cheerful and resilient in the face of fatigueness.