Having difficulty falling asleep?
You’re not alone, if that’s any consolation. 1/3 of Americans suffer from insomnia or related issues. Occasional restlessness is entirely natural.
But serious, consistent difficulty falling asleep over a lengthy period of time might mean its time to see a doctor, or try something new.
How is insomnia treated?
Make sure you do the right things to help yourself fall asleep:
- Go to sleep at around the same time each night
- If you can’t fall sleep in 20 minutes, get up and do something
- Don’t drink coffee or smoke before sleeping
- Use your bed mainly for sleeping and sex, and not for other activities
- Eliminate distractions and noises in your room
It’s important to rule out simple physical explanations for your insomnia. It’d be a shame if the cause of your lost rest is something as simple – so to speak – as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome. Or it might just not make sense to be drinking coffee past 6pm.
If your difficulty falling asleep is because of a depressed mood or because of anxiety, you may benefit from therapy and/or medications.
Can hypnosis help?
Hypnosis literally means “sleep,” but is actually a state of increased awareness and focus. When hypnotized, our minds are both very relaxed and very focused. It’s very similar to how babies think.
Does hypnosis help with sleeping? The studies on hypnotherapy are mixed. One study showed 50% improvement over 16 months with just two sessions! That said, most studies acknowledge the lack of information and avoid what is likely hyperbole.
Importantly, hypnosis may help with psychological issues that prevent sleep, not physical. So if drinking ten cups of Joe a day is keeping you up, all the glowing disks and “You are feeling sleepy” statements won’t do anything.
Simple hypnosis related techniques can help. One method, progressive muscle relaxation, works to ease you into a state of relaxation. Guided imagery and other self-hypnosis techniques are also possible.
Not getting enough sleep every now and then won’t hurt you.
Also, the exact amount of sleep we need isn’t scientific fact. If you aren’t getting 8, that isn’t automatically reason to panic. Yes, you should be getting at least 6, but otherwise, if you feel fine then most likely it’s OK.
What are the types on insomnia?
Acute insomnia: Something new is challenging or stressing you out. As a result, you can’t fall asleep well. Because this type of insomnia is in reaction to something, it generally goes away within three months. Sometimes substance use plays a role.
Learned insomnia: Insomnia can become a habit. People with this type of insomnia have experienced difficulty falling asleep, and so become overaroused when bedtime comes. They experience “racing thoughts,” and an inability to relax.
A change of routine or setting may actually temporarily cure this type of insomnia because the new environment isn’t associated with trouble sleeping.
Condition-related insomnia: Anxiety or mood related trouble falling asleep. Often a bit confusing because it’s hard to tell if a bad mood and depression-like symptoms are because of lack of sleep or vice versa.