Do I Have Insomnia? A Guide for Those Who Can’t Sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, you may constantly ask yourself, ‘do I have insomnia?’ Find out about the symptoms of insomnia here.
Are you tossing and turning all night? Chronic insomnia affects at least 10% of Americans. Do you think that you might be one of them?
An occasional night of sleeplessness is normal. There are plenty of reasons that you might struggle to sleep every once in a while, and it’s not a cause for concern. When it happens often, though, you’re actually putting your health at risk.
So, you might be thinking “do I have insomnia?”
The answer is “probably,” if you’re already asking that question. We’re here to talk all about insomnia, how it affects you, what causes it, and ways that you can get better sleep.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is an inability to sleep. Sometimes this inability is related to another type of sleep disorder or illness, and other times it stands alone.
As we mentioned, it’s normal to have sleepless nights from time to time.
Acute insomnia is an inability to sleep that lasts for a short period of time. It can be as short as a day or as long as several weeks before it goes away on its own and doesn’t repeat.
Chronic insomnia lasts longer. A person with chronic insomnia may have several nights per week in which they’re unable to sleep, and this can go on for months (or indefinitely).
Do I Have Insomnia? Insomnia Symptoms
If you’re having trouble sleeping to the extent that you’re not getting enough sleep to function, you have insomnia of some kind. It’s not a diagnosis per se.
The first symptom of insomnia, and the most obvious one, is an inability to sleep at all. You lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling, and you can’t drift off to sleep no matter what you do. Falling asleep is a challenge.
You might also have trouble staying asleep. You fall asleep well enough, but you wake yourself up at night. While it’s better than not being able to sleep at all, when you disrupt your own sleep, you aren’t experiencing a full sleep cycle.
We need to go through our entire sleep cycle in order to feel rested in the morning. REM sleep is crucial.
You might not remember that you aren’t sleeping deeply. Many people wake up throughout the night without noticing. In that case, you might notice signs of insomnia the next day.
Those could include fatigue, headaches, weakness, irritability, or even nausea.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia is different for every person.
Some insomnia doesn’t require any kind of underlying condition. This is more often the acute kind of insomnia.
If you’re overstimulated from an exciting or difficult day, you’re worried about something, you have jetlag, or something in your environment is keeping you up (like the temperature, light, or smell), you can experience insomnia. This insomnia shouldn’t happen too often.
Some insomnia, however, is caused by underlying factors.
Certain mental health conditions can contribute to insomnia. Anxiety and depression are both common conditions that, either by themselves or through their medication, may disrupt your sleep.
If you have a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, you’re more likely to also have issues with insomnia. This is also true for other conditions like hyperthyroidism or illnesses that cause chronic discomfort or pain.
You also need to consider external factors. If you drink alcohol, use caffeine, or smoke cigarettes, you may have trouble sleeping. Your ability to sleep while using these substances may change over time, so even if you never had trouble when you were younger, aging can change things.
Certain medications can also affect your sleep. Talk to your doctor about your medications and ask about alternatives if your sleeplessness is interfering with your life.
At-Home Methods for Better Sleep
If you’re struggling with sleep, you have options.
First, consider underlying conditions that could be affecting your sleep. If you think you might have an illness or mental health condition, talk to your doctor first. They may be able to treat the cause instead of the symptom.
You should also remove any potential external factors. If you smoke, drink, or use caffeine, cut back and see if that helps.
If you’re still struggling, try a few at-home methods before you turn to heavier sleep aids.
Melatonin is a hormone that already exists within your body. It comes from the pineal gland.
Melatonin helps to regulate your sleep schedule. It tells your body when it’s time to wind down and when it’s time to wake up. People with normal sleep schedules can attribute them to melatonin.
You can take supplementary melatonin about an hour before you go to bed to help initiate sleep.
If melatonin isn’t working for you, CBD might be helpful. Many people use CBD for sleeplessness and anxiety. If racing thoughts are the cause of your insomnia, CBD could be a valid option.
CBD isn’t a sedative. It shouldn’t make you drowsy, per se, but some people report that they feel more ready to sleep at night and more awake during the day when they’re taking CBD.
Try taking CBD before bedtime and see if it works for you.
Better Sleep Hygiene
The number one thing that you should do when you’re dealing with insomnia is to check out your sleep hygiene.
There are several things that make up bad sleep hygiene. The first is common: using bright electronics before bed. The blue light from electronics tells your brain that it’s time to be awake. This makes it harder to sleep.
Put down your phone at least a half-hour before you need to sleep.
You should also make sure that you don’t do anything in bed that doesn’t belong there. If you work from home, don’t make a habit of working in bed. Even if you’re not feeling well, move onto the couch.
This helps your brain associate your bed with sleep so it’s easier to drift off once you go to bed.
Insomnia Is a Struggle
If the answer to “do I have insomnia?” is “yes,” there are things that you can do to help.
If you’re worried about underlying medical conditions, make sure to talk to a doctor about your concerns. They may advise a sleep aid or further treatment for an underlying illness.
Try the at-home methods for better sleep and do your best to avoid excess stress. Remember, we need proper sleep to function. Don’t neglect it.
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