You always hear that children and adults should aim for a certain amount of sleep each night. That 7 to 8 hours can seem nearly impossible to achieve as an adult. After all, many of us are juggling many different things at once. Careers, household responsibilities, raising families, social obligations, finances, etc. There likely isn’t an adult out there who doesn’t wish they could add more hours to their day (and bonus points if those extra hours come on a weekend!)

Unfortunately, for many adults, achieving those 7 to 8 hours is already hard, but when you add in struggling with insomnia, it can feel like a nearly impossible feat.

What Is Insomnia?

Let’s start with the basics. Insomnia refers to the inability to sleep. This may manifest itself in a few different ways. The two most common signs of it are:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep

You may go to bed completely exhausted at 10 pm, fall asleep, and feel wide awake at 1 am. Alternatively, you may go to bed at 10 pm and lay awake until 2 am. That whole mess about counting sheep? You know that really doesn’t work!

Insomnia can last for days, weeks, or months. Often, it comes unannounced and uninvited.

What Causes Insomnia?

You might be experiencing sleepless nights and think, “What changed? I used to be able to sleep better!”

As mysterious as insomnia seems, it is often traced back to tangible roots. Some of the most common causes of short-term insomnia are:

  • Short-term stressful situations
  • Distressing events or big life changes

However, more causes of insomnia can be linked to both short-term and long-term insomnia. These include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or chronic anxiety
  • Medical conditions
  • Changes in medication
  • Depression
  • PTSD/trauma symptoms

Signs of Insomnia

Insomnia involves more than just the difficulties of falling or staying asleep. Someone dealing with insomnia may also experience the following:

  • Consistently waking up earlier than the alarm
  • Difficulty focusing or staying on task during the day
  • Making mistakes more consistently or even causing or being involved in accidents
  • Consistent worries about sleep

Dealing with insomnia is challenging. Sleep is a vital process that all humans need. It is when our bodies and minds can rest, reset, and heal. But what can you do to alleviate insomnia? Fortunately, there is quite a bit you can do that works and doesn’t involve counting sheep!

How To Deal With Insomnia

Don’t Force Sleep

We promise this isn’t counterintuitive. Laying in bed at night, willing sleep to come, very rarely, actually makes someone fall asleep. If you go to bed and can’t fall asleep within the hour, don’t hesitate to get out of bed and go to a living space in your house.

Instead of forcing sleep, look at how many hours you are sleeping. Is it only 6? 5? 4? Whatever the number, try setting your bedtime accordingly. If you only get 5 hours of sleep consistently, try to go to bed 5 hours before waking up. Unfortunately, lying in bed wishing you could sleep doesn’t make you sleep. Over time, your body will naturally adjust to sleeping for five consistent hours. As that routine is established, try to push it to 6 hours, then 7, or however many hours it takes to feel well rested.

Turn Off the Electronics

It’s understandable; you can’t sleep and want to pass the time away. How many of us turn to scrolling through our phones, watching TV, or even working if we can? While this may help you pass the time, it does more harm than good in the long run. Electronics emit harmful blue light that can decrease the melatonin your body naturally produces.

Instead, try listening to an audiobook or reading a physical book. Listen to music, work on a puzzle, or do other things that relax you.

If you are dealing with insomnia, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support. Insomnia therapy can help you get to the root cause of your sleepless nights and, most importantly, how to fix them!