Insomnia is a disorder characterized by difficulty staying asleep or difficulty sleeping at night. At times, a patient may complain of the inability to go back to sleep once they wake up earlier than they should.
The center for disease control did research which revealed that a normal physiological adult needs an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per day, and this is also dependent on age.
Studies reveal that average, 25% of united states residents suffer from insomnia yearly, but only 75% of these people develop complications secondary to insomnia they suffer.
Acute insomnia can result in difficulty in concentration during the day, and fatigue all through the day, and chronic or long-term insomnia can lead to several other diseases (1).
Types Of Insomnia
Insomnia can be classified according to time and according to the causative factors, and these are:
a) Classification according to time
b) Classification according to cause or etiology
Causes Of Insomnia
The actual primary cause of insomnia is not known. However, studies reveal several factors that may be responsible for it. Some of the factors can be direct aetiologies or risk factors. The following are identified factors that may be responsible for insomnia:
A. Family history: Studies have revealed that genetics is one of the major predisposing factors to insomnia. It runs in the family and increases the chances of one suffering from insomnia.
B. Brain activity: Research show that people who suffer from insomnia have different brain activity and waves from normal physiologic persons. These waves may be responsible for insomnia in such individuals.
C. Medical conditions: Another traceable cause of insomnia is underlying medical conditions. Individuals who suffer from medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s may experience chronic insomnia, hence, the difficulty in falling asleep.
D. Mental disorders: Close to 50% of people who suffers from insomnia have an underlying mental disorder, and some are diagnosed at the onset of insomnia. Example of such mental disorder affecting sleep pattern is anxiety and depression.
E. Life changes: Changes in life activities or patterns often affect individual sleep patterns. For instance, a change in work duty may be responsible for the sudden onset of insomnia in a worker.
F. Habit and routine: Having a poor sleep habit or poor sleep hygiene is one of the identified factors that contribute to insomnia worldwide. Examples of such poor habits include caffeine consumption, stress, and sleeping time (2).
Insomnia however can be treated medically using medications and pills, as well as lifestyle modification which has proven to be one of the best ways to combat insomnia. Changes in lifestyle such as the practice of good sleeping hygiene will help to promote good sleep and combat insomnia.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is defined as the habit of diligently practicing healthy behavioral, physical, and environmental patterns that promote good sleep. Sleep hygiene is more than purchasing a good and comfortable mattress to sleep on. It involves deliberate efforts and consistency to achieve the desired result.
Your activities during daytime and at night will greatly determine the quality of sleep you will be getting at night. For instance, one important tip to sleeping well at night is to have an activity-filled day and avoid unnecessary napa during the day. Good sleep will not only help you stay alert to be productive in the daytime, but it also goes a long way to increase the quality of life and overall health of individuals (3).
Signs Of Poor Sleep Hygiene
Poor sleep hygiene will amount automatically to not sleeping well at night or difficulty staying asleep during the night. The following are the signs of poor sleep hygiene:
Benefits Of Good Sleep Hygiene
Being able to achieve quality sleep at night and sleeping for an average of 7 to 9 hours as recommended by the center for disease control, is a very effective method to keep the body and brain active at night as well improving the overall quality of life. The following are some of the itemized benefits of good sleeping habits:
1. Weight management
Good sleep is not only effective for the brain, but it is also good in managing the weight of individuals. Studies have revealed that people with poor sleep patterns and shorter sleep times tend to gain weight and build up fats compared to individuals who sleep well.
Reasons were however given to support this point. Poor sleep results in poor eating habits and a reduction in the activity of the hormone leptin which causes overeating. Also, inadequate rest results in unnecessary cravings which leads an individual to eat unhealthy foods and store up more fats.
Therefore, good sleep hygiene and good sleep pattern will prevent the occurrences of the above, thereby regulating weight gain in individuals.
2. Memory and productivity
Every physiological system and activity going on in the brain and body generally are being regulated during sleep. Quality sleep at night will regulate the cognitive functions of the brain and enhance productivity in the daytime.
A single terrible night of poor sleep can lead you to have a very disorganized day at work. A study carried out revealed that poor sleep pattern and sleep deprivation results in impaired cognitive performances which were compared to alcohol intoxication in alcoholics.
3. Emotional health
Good sleep is very important to maintain one’s mental health, as well as emotional health. The stage of sleep required to achieve good sleep is rapid eye movement sleep, also called REM sleep.
REM sleep is like a form of overnight therapy required to balance a lot of activities in the body and this includes mental and emotional health.
Psychiatrists explained that a bad sleep pattern or poor sleep is associated with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, and insomnia has been reported in close to 90% of patients suffering from depression.
4. Immune function
Good immune function is made possible as a result of good sleep. Quality sleep promotes the secretion and action of the cells and proteins required for the immune system to function appropriately.
A group of people was used as a sample for a study. Quite a number of them with flu were subjected to good and long sleep while some were made to sleep shortly. The result revealed that those who had good sleep tended to be healthier at the end of the study compared to those with poor sleep.
A slight derail from the adequate sleep one is supposed to get will hurt the immune system.
5. Cardiovascular system health
Good sleep is very essential to keep the heart functioning properly. Poor sleep will lead to the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol in high quantity, and this hormone in excess in the body hurts the heart.
Studies revealed that chronic insomnia is one of the high-risk factors for developing atherosclerosis which results in the accumulation of fats in the arterial wall resulting in severe complications such as myocardial infarction, and stroke.
A study revealed that people who sleep for just a short time at night are more at high risk of developing heart attacks.
Good sleep hygiene practices don’t take place overnight, it takes time, and requires diligence and consistency to achieve a positive and desired result, especially in individuals with long-term insomnia (5).
Tips To Sleeping Better at Night
If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, there are guided steps and tips you can follow both at night and in the daytime to give you better sleep.
This is the summary of all sleep hygiene preaches, taking on habits to promote quality sleep at night. Below are tips that will help promote your sleep:
1. Consistent sleep schedule
To improve the quality of sleep, it is important to stay diligent and consistent with a sleep schedule. This simply means you have a stable time you try to sleep and also ensure you wake up at the same time daily, both weekdays and weekends. T
his helps to stimulate your body’s physiological circadian rhythm which will help you abide by the same time daily.
Having a consistent daytime timetable and schedule will also encourage you to stay active and reduce unnecessary naps during the daytime. Ensure that whatever time you are going with, you enjoy at least seven hours of sleep daily.
2. Bedtime routine
A well-planned routine at bedtime helps you to relax and unwind in preparation to sleep. Staying consistent with a particular routine will help program your body to automatically recognize it is time to rest once your bedtime approach at night.
The best time to fix a routine is thirty minutes to one hour before bedtime. This routine will include whatever activity you have recognized to help relax best.
Here are a few things you may want to include in your routine:
3. Avoid caffeine.
Once it’s noon, avoid taking caffeine or any coffee drink. Taking coffee in the morning may be fine for you and help your day, but caffeine any time from noon to nighttime will keep you overactive and depress the sleep centers in your brain, hence preventing you from sleeping well at night.
Also, excessive intake of caffeine will not only prevent you from having a good sleep, but it also hurts the heart.
4. Exercise wisely
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy, fit, and sleep well. But as much as you want to perform your exercise rituals, avoid working out too close to bedtime as over-stressing your muscles too close to bedtime may put you in pain and prevent you from sleeping well. Hence, finish up every exercise three to four hours before your scheduled bedtime.
5. Light meal at night
As much as you can, resist the urge to eat any heavy food at night. Consuming heavy food at night will overload your gastrointestinal system which may result in indigestion and cause difficulty in falling asleep at night. Ensure to always eat light food at night, something light like cheese and cereal.
6. Dim the lights
You must lower the intensity of your light about two hours before your scheduled bedtime. When you dim your light it stimulates the brain to initiate the stimulation of the melatonin hormone that regulates and bring about sleep in human.
7. Avoid noise
One important sleep hygiene is to sleep in a quiet and calm environment. Avoid even the slightest noise when you are close to your scheduled bedtime, and avoid the sound of speakers, pet disturbances, and traffic sounds. Avoiding these sounds will help you fall asleep faster and easier and it will also help you stay asleep for long hours.
8. Turn down tobacco
As in caffeine, tobacco smoke contains nicotine. Nicotine acts similarly to caffeine as they are both stimulants that help to keep the body active. Smoking tobacco will cause a high level of nicotine in the body and this will make it difficult to initiate sleep or to maintain good sleep.
9. Avoid getting addicted to sleeping pills
Sleeping pills have their side effects and it is very easy to get addicted to them. Ideally, pills are only to be used for a very short period and should be used under the supervision of health personnel. Don’t abuse pills and avoid self-medicating with pills. Always ask your doctor for the best advice (7).
Like many things in life, good sleep hygiene needs daily upkeep and maintenance. Make sure you establish a regimen and follow it each day.
The most significant fact you can do to improve your health overall is to get more sleep, therefore you should devote enough time to it each day. Follow these recommendations for good sleep hygiene, and you’ll soon begin to reap the rewards of restful sleep daily (8).
(1) Dasgupta, R. (2017, December 7). Insomnia: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9155#causes
(2) Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Insomnia: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12119-insomnia2.
(3) Casper Editorial Team. (2020, April 14). What Is Sleep Hygiene? 12 Must-Know Tips. Casper Blog. https://casper.com/blog/what-is-sleep-hygiene/
(4) Suni, E. (2020, August 14). What is Sleep Hygiene? (N. Vyas, Ed.). Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene
(5) Salter, O. (n.d.). What is sleep hygiene? 5 benefits of good sleep hygiene. Natures Best. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/pharmacy/sleep-health/what-is-sleep-hygiene-5-benefits-of-good-sleep-hygiene/
(6) Dasgupta, R. (2020, August 17). Sleep Hygiene Explained and 10 Tips for Better Sleep. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-hygiene#relaxing-routine
(7) Ambardekar, N. (2021, March 7). 20 Tips to Reduce Your Sleep Problems. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-sleep-tips
(8) Sleep Score Labs. (2017, November 4). The Importance of Sleep Hygiene | SleepScore Labs. SleepScore. https://www.sleepscore.com/blog/the-importance-of-sleep-hygiene/