So you can’t fall asleep? Your thoughts float or spin in your head, even if you feel very tired?
Or you can’t stay asleep as long as you desire? You wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes several times, you go to the bathroom, you think, you stare in the dark, your mind starts racing again, you worry about something, you mentally review your to-do list for tomorrow, you brainstorm about the presentation you are working on?
If it has been going on for several days already, you can’t wake up either, because your system does not rest and rejuvenate properly and is exhausted. You feel sluggish, sleepy, unable to focus or memorize easy things, experience muscular and mental fatigue. You might even feel irritable and depressed, have double vision, hallucinations.
Sleep deprivation and sleep of poor quality (= not reaching stage 3 or delta sleep which has restorative properties) are to be taken very seriously. Insomnia is actually both a sign and a symptom that can accompany several sleep, medical, and psychological (even psychiatric) disorders.
About one third of adults complain about occasional insomnia and 10% suffer from true insomnia. This disorder is more common among women and the elderly. So you are not alone. It is a major health issue.
Firstly, try to figure out what could be the cause(s) of your sleep problems:
- Changes in the sleep environment or the timing of sleep?
- Stress? That is usually culprit #1…
- Another disorder? Magnesium deficiency or low levels, restless legs, sleep apnea, excessive night time urination, major depression, all alter your sleep. You may need the help of (a) professional healthcare provider(s) to nail it down.
After you figure this out, you can try to work on the causes if you have control over them.
In the meantime, you need to sleep, fast.
Of course, the easy path is to use hypnotic medication. But that should be your plan B and only for a very short period of time (a few days) because the body develops tolerance to its hypnotic effects, and because this medication is known to be addictive (think Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, John Galliano, Robbie Williams, Michael Jackson and so many more…).
Some people turn to alcohol but who likes to wake up hung over? Not to mention the potential addiction.
I won’t even talk about marijuana. It’s illegal, makes you stupid and it fries your brains on the long run.
Melatonin is a human hormone that is increasingly popular as a supplement to promote sound sleep, especially in people who travel between time zones or who work odd hours. People report mixed success with this product; some people find real benefit and others feel nothing from its use, while a smaller percentage of users experience side effects such as nervousness and increased insomnia.
Your plan A is natural solutions, that address the cause of the problem (see above) and beyond. Many have proved to provide long lasting improvement to insomnia.