Everyone needs their sleep, and those who are in mental health recovery need it most of all. A good night of solid rest will help you to tackle each day’s challenges with high spirits, creativity, and vigor—while a lack of sleep can cause mental health symptoms to spiral.
Not everyone finds it easy to fall asleep, though, or to stay asleep through the night. Sleepless nights are all too common, and the causes of insomnia are numerous. If you find that insomnia is sapping your mental fortitude, or stalling your recovery, then a good first step is to think through some of its likely causes.
What are the Top Reasons for Insomnia?
Here’s a rundown of just a few of the most common causes of insomnia.
Stress. When you’re stressed out, it can interfere with the biological processes that facilitate sleep, getting you too revved up to fall to sleep at night. If you believe that it’s stress that’s keeping you up at night—and especially if you find yourself worrying into the wee hours of the morning—then finding an effective stress management tool should be your first course of action. A therapist can help with this, if needed.
Depression. Depression, too, can cause insomnia. Most commonly, it causes people to wake up early in the morning, but in some cases it can make it hard to fall asleep, too. Again, seeking a therapist is a good course of action, as depression can be successfully treated and its symptoms managed.
Inadequate weekly schedule. When you wake up at different times every day, that can really throw off your internal rhythm. Those who have different work hours each day, or who sleep in on weekends, may find that insomnia is the result of their irregularity. Sticking to one specific wake-up time, each and every morning, can save you from those sleepless nights.
Sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you probably know it; certainly, loud snoring and waking up in the night, struggling for breath, are telltale symptoms. Sleep apnea actually deprives your body of oxygen, so of course you don’t sleep as soundly. If you have this condition, you won’t be able to sleep well until you seek the proper treatment.
OTC drugs. Those medicines with the letters PM in them? They’re not actually meant to be used as regular sleep aids, and while they may make you drowsy at first, their effects can wear off after a few days. They can even become counterproductive. If you take PM drugs every evening, they may have the opposite effect from what you intend.
Eating at bedtime. When you eat too close to bedtime, it can lead to a number of problems—most common among them acid reflux. While there are some nighttime snacks that may help you sleep better, if you’re finding that you go to bed with indigestion and have a hard time sleeping because of it, that’s a good sign that you need to cut out that late-night nibbling. Of course, if you’re in eating disorder recovery, late night snacks should be weighed and considered with your dietitian, as well.
Screens. The blue light emitted from your electronic device—phone, tablet, laptop, what have you—can interfere with your natural sleep cycles. Turn off your devices at least an hour before bedtime. Remove them from your bedroom altogether, if possible.
You need your sleep—and that means you need to address whatever issues are keeping you from it. Hopefully these tips will enable you to beat insomnia. Contact a therapist at Alsana if you need further assistance.[cta] Learn more at the Alsana recovery blog! [/cta]