According to the National Institute of Health, over 40 million people suffer from some type of sleep disorder in America alone. And anyone who has ever found it difficult to fall or stay asleep at night can often empathize with this; after all, who hasn’t had one or two sleeplessness nights in their life?
For many people, not being able to fall asleep on occasion is ordinary, and often due to life changes that are causing stress. Once the situation resolves itself, so does the sleeping issue. However, for some, sleep is almost always elusive, and getting ready for bed at night eventually becomes a dreaded, panic-attack inducing activity because they know exactly what is ahead: hours upon hours of tossing and turning, frustration and, ultimately, exhaustion the next day.
It’s no way to live, but it’s also something that’s difficult to get help with, especially if money or health insurance is an issue. And even then, most people don’t want to rely on medications to fall asleep every night, and most doctors won’t let it go on for too long since insomnia can lead to some health risks.
A lack of quality sleep can result in all kinds of health issues, from depression to weight gain to increased susceptibility to catching the common cold (after all, your immune system needs sleep to function at its best as well). And that’s all on top of the overwhelming exhaustion and lack of ability to concentrate on anything other than being, well, tired.
So what can you do?
There are all of the old standards: go to bed at the same time every night, make sure your room is cool, dark, and quite or avoid any caffeine or nicotine products for three to six hours before bed. Then there are the mind games that people suffering from insomnia often play with themselves: counting sheep, relaxing every body part from the toes up to the skull, repeating the same phrase in their mind over and over again.
For the majority of the people who want to fall asleep fast, finding the right combination of all of the above works best, whether it’s a nightly ritual or a saying used to push you off to dreamland. For others, nothing but medication will work, and if used properly, can help the body get used to falling asleep at a certain time.
What do you do when all of that fails? Are you just resigned to always being tired?
It’s not an easy question to answer. Researchers are still trying to determine exactly what causes chronic insomnia. And if it’s like any other condition that deals with the conscious and unconscious mind, the actual cause is going to vary. Of the current lifestyle changes, nightly mantras, and medications available, it will likely be a lot of trial and error to find the combination of these that works most often for you. Wait a week after each change you make, and prioritize finding a way to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. You deserve not to be tired.