Symptoms of Insomnia
How to Sleep Faster &
Free Sleep Hygiene PDF
Symptoms of Insomnia
What are the Symptoms of Insomnia?
- Worrying about sleep
- Poor cognition, focus or attention
- Increase in anxiety and depression
- Feeling tired through-out the day
- Feeling tired after sleeping
- Waking up early
- Interrupted sleep
- Difficult remembering
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Being “spaced out” or “sidetracked” easily/often
- Increase in mistakes/errors
- Mood changes
Insomnia causes your body to increase cortisol which
- Increases your stress
- Raises your blood sugar
- Increases blood pressure
Symptoms of insomnia cause stress on your body which can eventually lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Source
How to Sleep Faster Using Sleep Hygiene
How to Sleep Faster
If you’re serious about getting sleep, clean up your sleep routine and you’ll likely notice a difference.
Here are some proven ways to reduce symptoms of insomnia.
Address Your Caffeine
Try to either reduce caffeine, eliminate caffeine, or cut yourself off earlier in the day.
Caffeine makes us use the bathroom more often (including at night) and also stimulates us. It makes us more prone to anxiety which can increase your symptoms of insomnia even more.
Don’t be too quick to underestimate the impacts of caffeine.
Caffeine withdrawal can last up to about 9 days, so even though your symptoms of insomnia may improve without it, you will go through about a week of caffeine withdrawal symptoms which include:
- Being tired
Nicotine is another stimulant which means it will increase your symptoms of insomnia.
With nicotine in your system it will likely take you longer to fall asleep and you won’t sleep as deep or as long as you would without it. If you want to improve your sleep it’s worth contemplating reducing, eliminating, or cutting yourself off earlier in the day.
Alcohol is a sedative, so it does help us fall asleep.
But, it’s really not a good thing for your overall sleep quality.
Because of the complex way our sleep cycles work, when alcohol is in our system we end up getting less REM sleep overall, which decreases our sleep quality. Research shows that those who use alcohol regularly are more likely to report symptoms of insomnia.
Let me guess; You use marijuana to help you fall asleep? I hear this ALL the time as a mental health professional.
As much as it hurts to hear it, unless you’re managing severe chronic pain that would otherwise impair your sleep, marijuana is likely working against you. Here is why.
Many people say it helps them fall asleep, but research has proven that it fragments your sleep cycles, preventing you from getting deep restorative sleep that is really important for you to function at your best.
Another thing, Cannabis is stimulating for a lot of people which can increase symptoms of anxiety.
Shortly after using it we feel awake, energetic, happy, and if you use THC juuussst before you go to bed; you’re likely throwing a wrench right in your precious sleep cycle.
Think about the impacts of doing this chronically.
You would continuously be shorting yourself on restorative sleep, leading to chronic symptoms of insomnia which are going to impact many aspects of your health.
The effects of sleep deprivation on the brain should not be taken lightly.
Did you know statistics show that people with mental health disorders use marijuana more than the average population?
Now there is a lot to consider when using the word ‘correlation’ & it’s worth mentioning that ‘correlation’ does not equal ’cause’.
But, don’t overlook the undeniable correlation with deteriorated mental health and chronic use of THC.
Don’t shoot the messenger, I don’t like it either.. But my advice is, pay attention to what weed is really doing for you.
Teach Your Brain Where To Sleep
Where do you sleep? Picture it.
Maybe its a bed, maybe it’s a couch, wherever it is make sure it’s a place you sleep, and that’s it.
With the exception of sex, don’t start doing other activities where you sleep, like reading, scrolling FB, watching YouTube, watching TV, etc.
Our brains learn to associate a certain location to sleep. When you lay in bed and shut off the lights your brain increases your melatonin.
If you get in bed and turn on the tv, or do XYZ… You’re losing that association & are much more likely to have symptoms of insomnia.
Wherever you lay down to sleep, make sure that’s the only thing you do there.
Make a Routine
If you want to build on that association you can make a routine before you go to sleep. It doesn’t need to be excessive, but here is an example, lets say you want to fall asleep by 10:30pm each night.
- 9:00pm-9:15pm Set out my clothes for the morning. Put keys, purse and phone where they go.
- 9:15pm-9:30pm Take a shower
- 9:30pm-9:50pm Read something (NOT IN BED & NOT ON A SCREEN) while having a tea (WITHOUT CAFFEINE IN IT) sounds relaxing, right?
- 9:50pm-10:00pm Brush teeth & do skin care routine
- 10:00pm-10:30pm Go to sleep (hopefully it’s that simple)
Get Rid of Distractions
Try to reduce loud noises, bright lights, pets or other stimulating/distracting things where you sleep.
There are a couple of things to consider about naps. Such as, how long is a nap?
Sticking to less than 90 minutes is usually best.
There are some benefits of napping but napping for over 2 hours might increase symptoms of insomnia.
Sleep in a Cool Temperature
Temperature surprisingly has a lot to do with our sleep quality. During REM sleep our body temp drops which allows us to repair cells and store memories.
A cooler environment will also promote melatonin and human growth hormone.
Most of the time when we can’t fall asleep at night, or wake up and can’t fall back asleep; it’s because of our body temp!
So, if you’re wondering how to fall asleep faster, sleep experts say 60-65F or 15-19C will help our body get to the ideal temperature, and fall asleep quicker.
A couple of sleep and exercise facts:
Exercise does release endorphins which can keep us awake and it also raises your temperature, which needs to come down before you get restful sleep.
So, try to be done with exercise 1-2 hours BEFORE sleeping.
Exercise overall does helps us sleep better though. Humans are meant to move. We have an internal clock that relies on a sleep-wake cycle.
When you exercise, you increase your body temp, which tells your body to be awake & helps your body differentiate when it’s time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep.
Exercise also makes us fatigue, so if you’re asking yourself how to fall asleep faster, wear yourself out in the day!
It will also promote deep sleep which is what repairs muscle and boosts immunity.
Here are some ways to get exercise in every season;
Do Something To Relax in The Evening
- Breathing exercises
- Sit outside in the grass
- Listen to a podcast
- Bird watching
- Chat with a friend to debrief about your day
- Take a warm shower, bath, or foot soak
Melatonin for Sleep
Melatonin is a hormone we make naturally in the absence of light.
Taking a melatonin supplement is typically considered safe.
We usually make enough of it on our own, but if you wanted to try supplementing it you could try taking it about an hour before bed.
If you’re interested in trying Melatonin to improve your symptoms of insomnia, I put some more links below.
Side effects of melatonin include
Melatonin side effects are pretty low risk but in a melatonin overdose you can experience high or low blood pressure and vomiting.
Melatonin for Adults
Melatonin for Kids
Sleep Hygiene PDF
Common Sleep Questions
I can’t sleep should I just stay up all night?
If you’re thinking about giving up on sleeping for the night, try getting out of bed and doing an activity like
- A relaxing hobby
I would avoid anything really strenuous, avoid the TV/phone, or smoking a cigarette, drinking sugar/caffeine as those can keep you up even longer.
The hope is that with getting up and unwinding a bit, you’ll eventually be tired enough to fall asleep.
Is waking up at 3am bad?
Waking up around 3am, or at some point in the middle of the night is actually normal.
We are usually in between sleep cycles at this point and it’s perfectly fine and common to wake up in between sleep cycles.
It becomes an issue if you’re struggling to fall back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night.
If you find yourself lying awake for an extended amount of time first address anything obvious that could be keeping you up; light, noise, temperature, needing to use the restroom, etc.
If that doesn’t work, you can try getting out of bed and doing an activity like reading, chores, or maybe a relaxing hobby.
I would avoid anything really strenuous, avoid the TV/phone, or smoking a cigarette, drinking sugar/caffeine, as those can keep you up even longer.
Why am I waking up at 4am with anxiety?
Waking up around 2-4am is normal and in itself, and isn’t anything to be worried about.
The anxiety you’re experiencing could be different things. If you’re experiencing sleep apnea, COPD, or congestive heart failure symptoms, it’s possible you’re getting hypoxic (receiving less oxygen), which can make us anxious.
If you’re a long time smoker, been diagnosed with CHF (congestive heart failure) or are overweight; you may want to ask a doctor how likely it is that these are impacting your sleep.
You could try sleeping inclined; in a recliner, or prop yourself up with pillows and see if taking some pressure off your chest relieves anything.
If you’re someone who tends to be anxious, you may want to consider anything that can be increasing your anxiety, & ways to reduce it.
I have a post that talks about medication for anxiety and one of the most effective treatments that I will link to below.
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