A Closer Look at Insomnia

A Closer Look at Insomnia

Sleep is an essential human need. It powers the mind, restores the body, and bolsters virtually every system in the body. But how much sleep do we need for our health?

Getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being. When it comes to your health, sleep is as crucial as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night. Knowing these general recommendations is a good first step. Next, you should evaluate your individual needs based on factors like your activity level and overall health. These guidelines serve as a rule-of-thumb for how much sleep most people need, but this can vary from person to person.

But what happens when you are suffering from a sleep disorder like insomnia? Sleep deprivation can lead to a multitude of health problems, like diabetes, hypertension, and weight gain. It’s important to understand the impact sleep (or lack thereof) has on your body, and do your best to get the quality rest you so desperately need.


What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. This condition can be short-term (acute) or can last a long time (chronic). It may also come and go.

Acute insomnia lasts from 1 night to a few weeks. Insomnia is chronic when it happens at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more.

Causes of Insomnia

Many factors can contribute to the development of insomnia, including but not limited to environmental, physiological, and psychological reasons. 

Insomnia occurs more often in women than in men. Pregnancy and hormonal shifts can disturb sleep. Other hormonal changes, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menopause, can also affect sleep. 

Insomnia becomes more common over the age of 60. Older people may be less likely to sleep soundly because of bodily changes related to aging or due to medical conditions or medications that affect sleep.


Types of Insomnia

Experts describe insomnia in different ways, depending on its specific characteristics:

  • Acute Insomnia refers to short-term sleeping difficulties that generally last no more than a few weeks.
  • Chronic Insomnia refers to insomnia that affects your sleep for 3 or more days each week regularly, typically for 3 months or longer.
  • Onset Insomnia: describes difficulty falling asleep. Trouble getting to sleep might happen because of caffeine use, mental health conditions, overstimulation, or other common insomnia triggers.
  • Maintenance Insomnia: refers to trouble remaining asleep once you get to sleep, or consistently waking up too early. This type of insomnia might relate to underlying health and mental health situations but lying awake and worrying you won’t get enough sleep can make it worse.
  • Behavioral Insomnia of Childhood: involves consistent trouble falling asleep, refusing to go to bed, or both. Children with this condition often benefit from learning self-soothing strategies and following a regular sleep routine.



Acute insomnia may not need treatment. Your doctor may prescribe sleep aids or sleeping pills for a short time. But don’t use over-the-counter sleeping pills for insomnia. They might have side effects and tend to be less helpful over time.

For chronic insomnia, you will likely need treatment for the conditions or health problems that are keeping you awake. Your doctor might also suggest behavioral therapy. This can help you change the habits that worsen insomnia and learn helpful strategies to promote sleep.



Good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene, can help you beat insomnia. Here are some tips:

1. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule

Go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day because they may make you less sleepy at night.

2. Don’t use phones or e-books before bed

One of the most important steps in treating insomnia is understanding the impact that electronics have on your sleep. Electronics are designed to stimulate your brain, which may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends turning off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed to induce more restful sleep. 

3. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day 

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can make you wake up in the middle of the night, negatively affecting your sleep quality.

4. Exercise regularly

Try not to work out close to bedtime because it may make it harder to fall asleep. Experts suggest exercising at least 3 to 4 hours before bed.


5. Eat less before bed

One of the most overlooked aspects of learning how to treat insomnia is analyzing the role of digestion. Heavy digestion can disrupt your sleeping patterns, so don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day. Conversely, a light snack before bedtime may help you sleep.

6. Make your bedroom comfortable – Create a relaxing environment

Your sleep space should be dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If the light is a problem, use a sleeping mask. To cover up sounds, try earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine.

7. Consider Melatonin

Melatonin is one of the best natural remedies for insomnia. This supplement, available in tablets, gummies, and powder-form, may make it easier for you to experience deep sleep.

8. Magnesium

Magnesium can release tension and tight muscles, helping prepare your body for rest. Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and cashews are great sources of magnesium, as well as fruits like avocados and bananas. Dark chocolate is also very rich in magnesium.

9. B Vitamins

B vitamins are vital for supporting brain function, energy levels, and cell metabolism, as well as helping the body produce melatonin. Research has shown that maintaining sufficient levels of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 may help achieve good sleep.

The best food sources of vitamin B include whole grains, meat, eggs, seeds, and nuts, as well as dark leafy vegetables.


10. Sleep

Sleep is an extremely important part of staying healthy. Insomnia can be extremely challenging, so keep in mind that you can use more than one of these tips and tricks at a time. Sleep is a highly individualized experience, so what might work for you, may not work for someone else. With a little patience and consistent effort, you’ll be enjoying well-deserved, deep rest night after night. 

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