Download as a PDF

5. Insomnia

Unfortunately, failing to get enough sleep isn’t always as a result of your lifestyle. Insomnia is a disorder which strikes unrelentingly, regardless of a person’s age. The condition can result in an individual remaining awake for extended periods of time – sometimes even across multiple days.

The difference between insomnia and being unable to sleep

While both will have a major impact on the way you operate, there are key differences between regular sleep deprivation and having insomnia. The most important factor comes in regard to causation.

Whereas regular sleep deprivation occurs because of external factors, insomnia is triggered by your own ecosystem. For example, while someone playing loud music next door might cause sleep deprivation, insomnia is brought on by a very different cause.

Scientists firmly believe insomnia is caused by the hyper arousal of the nervous system. This causes us to trigger our fight or flight mechanism – leaving us in a state of alertness and constant readiness. In order to maintain this, the body is flooded with stress-related hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine.

In short, sleep deprivation is caused by poor choices on your part or disturbing external factors, whereas insomnia is a natural by-product of a chemical reaction you have no control over.

The impact and side effects of insomnia on your life

Having insomnia will unsurprisingly have a drastic impact on your life. Just as not getting enough sleep is bound to seriously impact your health, so too does insomnia – only to more extreme levels.

Some of the primary side effects of insomnia include:

Heightened risk of a medical condition – With insomnia, you run the risk of being diagnosed with far more serious medical conditions than just a cold. These include: strokes, asthma attacks, obesity, heart disease, diabetes.

Risk on your mental condition – With the additional strain being placed on the brain, it becomes a lot more susceptible to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Shortened life expectancyA recent study found that people who suffered from persistent insomnia over a 38-year period were 97% more likely to die in that time than someone without the condition.

Impaired social life – If you’re suffering from a condition which keeps you awake for extended periods of time, you’re going to be less able to successfully communicate with people on a social level.

How to combat and battle through insomnia

When it comes to insomnia, you have two options. You can either choose to head down the medicated route, or battle through the condition on your own.

Some top tips for trying to rid yourself of insomnia include

Do yoga in the evening – While we wouldn’t encourage strenuous activity before bed, you can wind down for the night with a nice relaxing yoga session. This will help you chill out, without releasing too much adrenaline into your system.

Get lots of light during the day – You can naturally regulate your body to adjust to sleeping at the right times by getting enough light during the day. This subconsciously encourages the body to regulate your rhythms.

Have a relaxing bath or shower before bed – Sitting in a warm bath or taking a shower ahead of bed time raises your body temperature, which in turn helps to wear you out without releasing adrenaline. This relaxed state is always helpful when it comes to trying to nap.

Don’t lie in bed for hours – If you can’t sleep, don’t wait around for an extended period of time getting frustrated. After 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until you feel tired. Whether it’s an hour or just five minutes, take your mind off being unable to snooze.