Do you have insomnia? Approximately 30% of American adults have the short-term (transient) form of this prevalent sleep disorder, and 10% suffer from long-term insomnia. If you have trouble falling asleep, remaining asleep, or you wake very early, you may be an insomniac. In today’s blog, we’ll share tips to help you overcome insomnia, including a non-surgical, non-invasive insomnia treatment option to improve your sleep patterns.
Applying a combination of the tips and recommendations you’ll read about in this blog will help you build an insomnia treatment plan that works. Try out different combinations until you find the plan that cures your condition and allows you to enjoy deep, restful sleep every night. As a result, you’ll also enjoy improved quality of life!
Side Effects and Symptoms of Insomnia
Sufficient sleep for most people involves sleeping soundly for seven to nine hours of every 24 hours. People who do not sleep well may experience mild to serious side effects, including but not limited to:
- Daytime fatigue or drowsiness
- Depression or anxiety
- Gut issues
- Low energy/motivation
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of focus/concentration
- Poor performance of tasks
- Worry about sleep
- Heart disease
- Tension headaches
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. Patients may suffer short-term periods of insomnia lasting a few days to a few months, while others have long-term insomnia, lasting months, years, or decades. Symptoms of insomnia include:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Trouble staying asleep all night
- Waking in the wee hours of the morning, unable to fall back to sleep
- Waking many times throughout the night
- Feeling unrefreshed upon waking and throughout the day
- Inability to nap when tired during the day
- Inability to concentrate/focus on a task
- Low desire to socialize
- High incidence of accidents
Causes of Insomnia
The inability to consistently achieve healthy sleep may be caused by a number of health conditions, prescription drugs, and also some alterable factors. Let’s first look at the health conditions that may contribute to insomnia:
- Chronic pain
- Sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome
- Overactive thyroid
- Bipolar disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Fatal familial insomnia (rare)
- Being female
- Genetics/family history of insomnia
- Significant life events (hospitalization, health scare, disease, marriage, death, empty nest, etc.)
And the factors you can change to help improve sleep quality are:
- Jet lag
- Screentime (using screened devices before bed)
- Alternating shift work
- Poor environment for sleep
- Caring for a household member
- Poor physical exertion
- Bad dreams/night terrors
- Using uppers like cocaine or methamphetamines
Insomnia Treatment Options
If stress contributes to your insomnia, a sleep physician may recommend counseling, medication, melatonin, over-the-counter sleep aids, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as insomnia treatment.
The chronic condition of clenching and grinding teeth, called bruxism, usually occurs when a patient is sleeping and interrupts sleep patterns. The most common cause of bruxism is stress and/or anxiety, and stress is also a primary cause of insomnia. Bruxism and insomnia often go hand in hand. A simple oral appliance worn during sleep can keep bruxism from harming the teeth and jaws, while also safely allowing natural stress release through clenching and grinding. A dental sleep medicine doctor like Dr. Timothy Mickiewicz of Sacramento, CA, may prescribe an oral appliance known as a sleep guard.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes insomnia in some patients. OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissues in a person’s mouth and throat completely block airflow for periods of 10 seconds to a few minutes, many times per hour. Total airflow blockage means the person does not breathe during these apneic episodes. Dr. Mickiewicz treats OSA with a non-invasive oral appliance that alters jaw position so that breathing remains consistent throughout a sleep session.
If you suffer bruxism and/or OSA as well as insomnia, a night guard or sleep appliance may serve as an effective insomnia treatment.
Routine and Room Vibe
When preparing for sleep, a few key changes can make your sleep environment more sleep-friendly and your body better prepared for falling asleep. Consider these simple tips a homeopathic insomnia treatment option.
- Relax an hour before bedtime with a book, bath, meditation, or yin yoga.
- Make your sleep environment dark, cool, and quiet. (If this is not possible, wear a sleep mask, use a fan, and/or wear earplugs).
- Turn off all ringers, alarms, bells, chimes, and lights before bed. Put dark tape over small lights that divert your attention from falling asleep.
- A cool room is best for sleeping.
- Make your bed comfortable with nice sheets, pillows, and blankets.
- Place a pillow between your knees when side sleeping.
- Use pillows to find a comfortable position for sleep.
- Don’t go to bed hungry; you can eat a light snack before bedtime.
- If you have GERD, congestion, or a cough, raise the head of your bed a few inches.
- Try this: Starting with your toes and moving to your head, silently instruct each part of your body to relax and sleep; this is a form of meditation.
Do This, Not That Before Bed
If you need a drink, choose a non-caffeinated, room temperature or warm beverage before bed. Keep a bottled water next to the bed, as well.
Do not drink caffeine or alcohol six hours before bedtime.
Do eat light, non-spicy foods before bed.
Do not eat a large or greasy meal before bed.
Do read a book or play written games like crosswords or sudoku before bed.
Do not watch a screen (TV, computer, phone, tablet, watch) while in bed and for four hours prior to bedtime.
Do wake at a set time each day.
Do not sleep in, even if you were awake late or all night.
Do create a bedtime routine and go to bed at a set time each night.
Do not stay up late.
Do take a warm bath, practice meditation, listen to instrumental music, or read to get drowsy.
Do not exercise for four hours prior to bedtime.
Do take medication prescribed or recommended by your doctor to improve sleep.
Do not ingest any stimulating substance four hours prior to bedtime.
Do not nap during the day.
Do keep artificial saliva spray or gel next to your bed if you suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia).
Do use deep breathing exercises or meditation to help you fall asleep.
Do see a doctor if you suffer from anxiety or depression. Medication may help relieve anxiety and depression.
Do keep a sleep diary or wear a sleep monitoring watch, then share your findings with your sleep physician or dental sleep medicine doctor.
What to Do for Insomnia Treatment
If you experience a short-term or chronic inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and achieve restful sleep, don’t delay seeking insomnia treatment. Call Dr. Timothy Mickiewics in Sacramento, CA, at 916-469-9178 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Mickiewicz offers a home sleep study, as well as insomnia treatment through dental sleep medicine.