The holiday season has arrived and stress levels seem to skyrocket during this time of year. With holiday parties, presents, coordinating dinners, and family gatherings to worry about, the last thing you need to worry about is sleeping. Sleep is an integral part of keeping the body healthy, especially during the holidays.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can affect your ability to fall asleep, get adequate or quality sleep, or remain asleep. Insomnia can take a toll on your life, making you feel un-refreshed when you wake. Lack of sleep or poor sleep can decrease energy levels, affect moods, and take a toll on your overall health.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia can be caused by several psychological or physical factors, but there is usually an underlying condition that is the primary cause of insomnia. Recently, however, insomnia has been linked to the brain’s inability to go to sleep, meaning that it can’t transition from the sleep cycle to its wake cycle. Insomnia can be a result of too much wake cycle or too much sleep cycle. Other causes are listed below.
- Nasal/Sinus Allergies
- Stress, Anxiety, or Depression
- Endocrine Problems (such as Hyperthyroidism)
- Medications (certain prescription drugs can disrupt the sleep cycle)
- Eating Late at Night
- Poor Sleep Habits
- Hormonal Changes
Exercise has been known to assist insomniacs with better sleep. Because exercise increases endorphin production, it can combat feelings of depression, stress, or anxiety, all of which can inhibit proper sleep. Some say that exercising at night can prevent sleep because the adrenaline takes too long to wear off, so it is believed that exercising in the morning or afternoon is optimal.
If you are a woman with insomnia, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol at night because it can interrupt sleep. This can also happen to men, but there’s a higher percentage of women who wake up throughout the night when they drink alcohol before bed. Additionally, alcohol has been known to rob women of REM, or deeper stages of sleep.
Aromatherapy is a great alternative to help with better sleep. Lavender, specifically, has been known to aid sleep. You can obtain lavender essential oil and put it in an air purifier before bed to promote a peaceful environment to sleep in. You can also make a lavender spray and spritz it on your pillow before bed.
Meditation has incredible calming effects and is a beneficial way to reduce stress. Focus on your breath to help you reach a deep state of relaxation. You can also practice yoga and the breathing exercises that go along with it. The non-strenuous exercise can help promote healthier sleep patterns as it rids the body of stress.
Avoid Screens Before Bed
Stay away from screens before bed. The wavelengths produced by smartphones or other electronics with screens inhibit the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you sleepy.
Valerian root is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia. You can make valerian root tea, which can help you fall asleep more quickly and promote overall better sleep. It is best to continually incorporate valerian root into your daily diet because the effects are better over longer periods of time.