We all have problems with sleep at some point in our lives. This is especially difficult when you live or move into a city as bustling and busy as New York. Life is much hectic, and people are more pressured to catch up with the day – no matter what jobs they do. Some of us can’t handle sleepless nights on our own, and we turn to therapists to help us thrive and survive through the day.
Below are some of the common questions that you and I frequently ask when are among those who are battling stress and insomnia in the city that never sleeps.
Question #1. I have a pretty stressful job, coupled with episodic periods of insomnia. Is there a link between these two?
Yes, there must be. Although not all sleep disorders are caused by stress, those who are under a significant amount of stress can have insomnia. For insomnia linked to stress, finding solutions to get rid of the stress usually gets rid or alleviates the sleeplessness. When you’re stressed, it’s quite hard to fall asleep and stay asleep as well. Ironically, stress can cause hyperarousal, and this further disrupts the sleep and wakefulness balance.
Question #2. Are there signs that my insomnia is due to stress?
A vital identifier that can help determine the answer to this question is knowing when insomnia started. Did it begin when you were worried over something work or family-related? Is it constant or does it come and go? Also, it would be helpful to be clear about what stress means to you. For instance, maybe you’re an anxious type of person whether you’re in a lot of stress or not. Perhaps you frequently have trouble relaxing at the end of the day. Or you feel depressed most of the time. If your ‘blues’ are constant, then you might be having a mood disorder, which is a different kind of problem in and of itself. I remember what Ben Martin, Psy.D used to say in an interview, “Get a reasonable amount of sleep (around 8 hours) nightly. If you are suffering from insomnia, seek treatment, since chronic insomnia is thought to be a risk factor for depression.”
Question #3. What can I do to get rid of my insomnia?
Whether the cause of your insomnia is situational or any other reason, it is essential that you find a way to alleviate or get rid of it. One of the healthy ways to do that is through a behavioral program that guides one to achieve moments of relaxation. You can do this by following some natural methods.
- First, set a bedtime and wake-up time for yourself, depending on the hours of sleep that you are recently getting. If you’re for only four hours every night, then set the time for four hours. Eventually, you can increase this number incrementally, for instance, by 20 minutes every night. The concept is to include the nighttime awakenings and slowly increase the number of hours that you sleep during the night.
- Find a routine or a habit that could wind you down at the end of your day. An insomniac will need to tire himself down and slow his brain activity so that sleep can take over. Perhaps you can start winding down 3 hours before your bedtime schedule. Do this by stopping all work, not accepting phone calls at the set time, and relaxing with a good book while lying in bed. You can watch television as well, but after an hour, listening to music would be more preferable. “Deep breathing encourages our body’s relaxation response. Other calming and stress-reducing activities include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, Tai chi and yoga,” Marla W. Deibler, PsyD also notes.
- Fix your bedroom in such a way that you feel comfortable, relaxed, and peaceful. People who have insomnia often feel tense and anxious because they know that they’ll be sleepless throughout the night. Try pastels for your sheets and pillowcases to relax the eyes, and set a few scented candles on the bedside table to lighten the mood. Keep in mind that your bedroom is a place of solace and relaxation. Leave the unpleasantness outside and bring the good vibes in.
Question #4. What is the most vital thing I should know about insomnia?
“Patients who experience continued insomnia are less likely to respond to medication and psychotherapy treatment than those without sleep problems.” Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT said. Many people who have insomnia say that they know they have it, but they just can’t do anything about it. However, insomnia can have a tremendously negative impact on someone’s life – his family, work, and his relationships – and it must be attended to. If you have insomnia, or you know someone who does, the initial step to curing or alleviating it is through appropriate diagnosis. Once it is confirmed, you can start doing something about it on your own, like finding natural ways to cure it.
If for some reason, you can’t deal with it on your own, you can always ask help from sleep professionals who are trained to assist you in your journey towards getting rid of your sleeplessness – in New York or anywhere else in the world you may be.