Sleep is one of the building blocks of good health.
It strengthens immunity, regulates hormones, helps digestion of food and provides energy for daily life.
When you’re well rested, you can be fully present and functional – at the gym, in relationships, at work, or wherever you are.
Experts of Spectrum Health Women’s Health and Wellness Center answered a few common sleep questions and offered tips for a good night’s sleep:
What counts as insomnia?
Insomnia comes in three basic flavors: taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, being awake for at least 30 minutes during the night, and waking up more than 30 minutes before your desired wake-up time.
Some people encounter all three problems. Others live only one. But any amount or combination of the three counts as insomnia.
What causes insomnia?
The causes of insomnia are virtually endless. As behavioral sleep medicine specialist Donn Posner said in the podcast Ten percent happier, “I now say to my trainees, ‘You can probably open the dictionary, put your finger on a word, and find something that is causing insomnia.'”
If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep these days, you are definitely not alone.
Some common causes include illness, physical pain, change of environment, anxiety, depression, stress, and major life changes. Even positive changes can affect sleep. Getting married or having a baby can trigger insomnia, although we usually think these things are good.
What is acute insomnia?
Acute insomnia describes anyone who suffers from insomnia for three nights to three months.
What is chronic insomnia?
Known to sleep experts as insomnia disorder, it describes people who have problems with insomnia for at least three nights a week for more than three months and have associated daytime symptoms such as fatigue, drowsiness. , concentration problems, performance problems or mood swings.
If I have acute insomnia, how can I prevent chronic insomnia?
Pay attention to your sleep cycle, especially when you wake up. It is the # 1 regulator of your circadian rhythm, which governs when you feel tired and when you feel awake.
You can reset your internal clock and prevent acute insomnia from becoming an uncontrollable problem. Wake up at the same time each day and be in the sun – or the closest equivalent you can find – as soon as possible after you wake up. Stay alert for at least seven to nine hours.
What if I have chronic insomnia?
Try the usual remedies first. Wake up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time. Establish a bedtime routine and avoid screen time for two hours after bedtime. Eliminate caffeine and alcohol from your diet.
If your sleeplessness persists after sustained exertion with these lifestyle remedies, it’s time to seek professional help.
Unwinding patterns that have persisted for months or years may require specialized expertise. The recommended first-line treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, followed by short-term use of medications.
The Women’s Health and Welfare Center has certified psychotherapists trained in this type of therapy.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Many sleep experts say you need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But the truth is, everyone is different – and a big part of the answer will depend on your age, gender, health, and other factors. It could also change throughout your life.
To find the answer for yourself right now, ask yourself the following question: “When I feel rested, awake and alert for most of the day, how long have I slept in the previous five to seven nights?” “
I love to sleep on the weekends. Is it bad?
Not necessarily. As long as you wake up at around the same time at least five days a week, sleeping an hour or two on weekends won’t change your circadian rhythm.
A well-regulated internal clock can deviate a little from the norm.
Am I doing something wrong?
If you wake up and go to bed at the same time every night, but don’t fall asleep, are you doing something wrong?
You may be trying to get more sleep than you really need. If you go to bed regularly before you are tired, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and, ironically, cause insomnia.
If you regularly feel tired in places that aren’t your bed – say the sofa – and can’t fall asleep when you snuggle under the covers, then you might be associating your bed with the experience. anxiety and stress. This is not uncommon in people with insomnia.
If you regularly take more than 15 minutes to fall asleep or go back to sleep, get up.
Don’t lie down or brood. Go to another room, read a book, do a chore, listen to music or a podcast. Stay away from screens and bright light.
Do something that distracts your attention from how much sleep you are not getting.
While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to fight insomnia is to not worry about it just yet. Focusing on your insomnia as a problem to be solved will only add gas to the fire – because if you try, you can’t force yourself to fall asleep.
Instead, focus on establishing the right rhythms and patterns in your daily life.
By creating comfortable routines, from your sleep / wake times and meals to regular hours of work, play and exercise, you can restart the natural processes that make good sleep possible.