“The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4 am knows all my secrets.” – Poppy Z. Brite
I find myself awake most nights tossing and turning in my bed. I try to lie still and calm my mind but I only end up staring blankly at the ceiling. I get out of bed and look at the clock. It’s 2 am. I need to get up early and go to work. Yet I am unable to sleep. Again.
I feel every minute passing slower than the previous one. I can hear the clock ticking agonizingly. I feel myself getting more frustrated and desperate to get some good, deep, refreshing sleep. I am very tired. Exhausted. Yet I feel like I just woke up and had 3 cups of coffee. I lie motionless on my bed. It’s boring.
My mind is boggled with weird thoughts. I think about embarrassing memories that have no meaning now. I breathe deeply and try to relax. I am still wide awake. Again. This is what happens every night. If I am lucky, some nights I manage to get into a ‘sleep like state’ for around 2 hours before it’s time to get up and go to work. I feel like I have forgotten how to fall asleep. I ask myself “Are these the symptoms of insomnia?”
“I want to sleep but my brain won’t stop talking to itself.” – unknown
Is this what you feel too?
If you find yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, like me, then most probably you’re an insomniac. Depending how often you’re unable to sleep, your persistent sleeplessness can actually hint at a serious sleeping disorder. Insomnia affects millions of individuals across the world and the effects can be overwhelming.
According to a recent report by the National Sleep Foundation, around 40 percent of American adults suffer from insomnia. Moreover, almost 15 percent of U.S. adults have reported to suffer from chronic insomnia. Today, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the United States.
What is insomnia?
“Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking.” – Clifton Fadiman
It is a sleep disorder which affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep and affects your capacity to function during the day. An insomniac will find it hard to fall asleep or to stay asleep throughout the night. Moreover, later in the day you will feel lethargic, exhausted, fatigued, have memory issues and lack concentration. In the long run, insomnia can severely affect your physical and mental health. Some of the related symptoms of insomnia include anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
Most of us experience sleepless nights due to work pressures, family responsibilities and easy access to technology in the bedroom. However, when you are having sleeping problems for over 3 months and it is affecting your daily life, then you might have insomnia.
If you are an insomniac, like I am, then here are some interesting facts you need to know about insomnia:
- Around 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from insomnia each year.
- It is more common in adult women than adult men.
- Insomnia is more common in older people than younger individuals.
- Emotional, psychological and medical issues can cause insomnia.
- It can be treated either through medicines or behavioral & lifestyle changes.
Why you can’t sleep
“Insomnia is an indication, not chaos. It’s like an ache. You’re not going to provide a patient with ache medicine without figuring out what’s reasoning the pain.” – Judith Owens
I have found that various physical, emotional and psychological factors can cause insomnia in a person. Certain medical conditions can also lead to chronic insomnia while acute insomnia can be the result of recent unpleasant events or trauma.
Here are some of the most common causes of insomnia:
1. Circadian rhythm
You can experience insomnia when your circadian rhythm is disrupted due to changes in lifestyle or work timings, jet lag, environmental noise, extreme weather or high altitudes.
2. Emotional and psychological conditions
Emotional & psychological factors like anxiety, stress, depression, grief, trauma, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder and others may result in insomnia.