Every person needs to get enough sleep to remain healthy. For most people, that’s about 7 or 8 hours of restful sleep a night. But insomnia can prevent that. Some people mistakenly believe that insomnia is a condition of being unable to fall asleep easily. But there are other insomnia symptoms than lying awake at night.
Insomnia is a persistent condition of finding it difficult to fall asleep or remain asleep and usually after waking up the insomniac doesn’t feel all that refreshed at all. Most people go through insomnia at some point in their lives, but some suffer from chronic or long term insomnia.
Some experts believe that as many as a fourth of the US labor work force is suffering from sleep deprivation because of insomnia. Even though most of these people show up for work, they accomplish less. It’s estimated that insomnia is actually responsible for 252 million lost days of productivity each year, and that’s a staggering $63 billion in lost productivity annually.
Among the general population, surveys reveal that about a third of the respondents complain about the condition, and about 15% suffer from chronic insomnia.
So how do you know that you—or a coworker or employee—is suffering from insomnia?
Insomnia Symptoms You Should Watch Out For:
- It’s late at night and you can’t seem to fall asleep. If it takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep when you lay down on your bed and close your eyes to sleep, that’s already a sign. Some people can solve this by playing soft music if the silence bothers them, or a night light when darkness doesn’t help them sleep. Others toss and turn trying to find the best position for their bodies and for their pillows,
- You keep waking up during the night. Sometimes this is caused by the need to urinate or because of changes in temperature during the night. Sometimes it’s because of a loud noise, such as when you sleep near a busy street and a noisy vehicle passes by. But this may happen for no obvious reason at all. Some people don’t even remember waking up several times during the night at all.
- You wake up to early. So you plan to sleep at 10PM and wake up at 6AM, so that you’re ready for your day by 8AM. Now sleeping by 10 PM isn’t the problem. It’s waking up at 2 or 3 AM and not being able to go back to sleep afterwards. That’s when you toss and turn trying to find your sleep again, and failing miserably.
- Feeling miserable and unrested after you wake up. Now you may sleep at the right time and wake up at the right time, except for some reason you feel tired afterwards. Some people feel miserable after sleeping.
There are many possible reasons for this. Perhaps you didn’t reach the deep sleep stage, which is the most important part of your sleep. You may sleep lightly and keep waking up during the night. You may also toss and turn a lot on your bed.
- You feel tired and sleepy during the day. This is one symptom that’s a main cause of concern for many companies, especially when dangerous tools and machinery are involved. If you’re a worker, you may feel fine in the morning, but you find yourself fatigued and drowsy later in the day.
This usually happens to people who don’t get enough sleep, so they need a nap to compensate. Others fight this feeling by ingesting more coffee to stay awake.
- You can’t seem to concentrate on your tasks. That’s one persistent symptom of insomnia—cognitive deterioration. You just can’t seem to focus during the day, or your memory has gone wonky. That’s what happens when you don’t get the revitalizing benefits of sleep.
- You make a lot mistakes. Now you may think you’re feeling well enough physically or mentally, but that may not be true if your work suddenly contains a lot of errors and you get into a lot of accidents during the day. It’s a bit like feeling sober enough to drive even when you have had too many to drink—the subsequent car crash demonstrates that you’re not actually alright.
So if you suddenly make a lot of mistakes in your job or get into accidents more frequently, this may actually be one of the insomnia symptoms to watch out for. This is especially true when you’re a doctor or your work is very important.
- Tension headaches and stomach distress become more frequent. Insomnia is linked with tension and stress, and that may cause gastrointestinal distress and headaches. Again, when you’re not suitably rested by your sleep you’ll need to add other insomnia symptoms to the list.
- You worry about sleep. It’s a rather vicious cycle. You can’t get to sleep because you’re stressed and worried, and then you begin to worry about getting enough sleep. That adds to your sleeping difficulties.
It’s easy to say that you shouldn’t worry, but that’s not easy to do. Some people try to learn how to meditate so that they don’t focus on their problems. It’s also a good idea to solve those problems in the first place.
So what should you do about it?
If you find yourself exhibiting any of these symptoms, you may want to address it right away before it becomes a long term problem. Your first option is to take some melatonin in small doses, which many experts recommend instead of taking a sedative which can cause side effects.
In people who sleep normally, the body produces melatonin about 7 hours before the normal bedtime. The melatonin prepares the body for sleep. But in insomniacs, the production of melatonin may be erratic, and night owls the secretion of the melatonin may come much later in the day.
Melatonin such as Lunar Sleep is also most effective when used in conjunction with proper sleeping habits. You should stick to a regular sleep and wakeup time, and make sure you’re exposed to bright light when the morning comes.