Over time, a lack of sleep or altered sleep can affect quality of life. Here is some advice to get better sleep.
Insomnia: is it a common problem?
Most people suffer from sleeping disorders at one time or another in their lives. Insomnia is reflected by difficulty falling asleep, disrupted sleep, waking up too early, and difficulty falling back asleep or fatigue during the day. Difficulty falling asleep or a lack of sleep is generally considered a problem when the situation interferes with daily activities.
How do I know if I'm getting enough sleep?
Sleep needs differ from one person to another. A healthy adult needs eight hours of sleep per night on average. However, some people only need six hours of sleep to function normally during the day and others will need at least ten hours.
If you experience sleepiness during the day or your fatigue doesn't go unnoticed (you can't help yawning and you have trouble keeping your eyes open), you probably aren't getting enough sleep or your sleep isn't restorative.
What causes insomnia?
Insomnia can be caused by various factors: a change of routine, a hardship, stress, relational or professional concerns, etc. Sometimes, it only lasts for a few days. When things go back to normal, insomnia goes away on its own. If it persists, it can then be considered as a more serious problem. Chronic insomnia can be related to a number of factors, including depression or anxiety. It's better to see your doctor if your insomnia lasts for more than a few weeks.
How can insomnia be treated?
The treatment of insomnia first calls for a thorough assessment by a healthcare professional. The use of prescription medication must always be considered as a last resort. Every effort is made to prescribe the smallest effective dose for the shortest period of time possible. This is because prescription medication that is used to treat insomnia can be habit forming.
Some over-the-counter remedies are also available, such as those containing diphenhydramine. These products must be used only to treat occasional bouts of insomnia and not for an extended period of time. Natural products can be an interesting option. Always speak to your pharmacist before using any over-the-counter sleep aid, since some products may not be suitable for you.
Certain non-medicated treatments can also improve the quality of your sleep. Relaxation, meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture, and yoga are all examples of methods that can help you to sleep better.
How can insomnia be prevented?
- Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and to get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
- Follow a routine to help you relax and wind down before bedtime; for example, take a hot bath, read a book or listen to soft music.
- Make your surroundings are conducive to sleep—dark, quiet, comfortable, not too warm and not too cool.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Only use your bedroom for sleeping. Remove any computer, television or work materials from the room.
- Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks) before bedtime. Avoid alcohol as well, as it interferes with sleep patterns.
Speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions about insomnia.