Insomnia

WHAT IS INSOMNIA AND WHO DOES IT AFFECT? I have always envied people who can sleep effortlessly. These people, who I refer to as ‘normal people’, can sleep anywhere, be it on an aeroplane or at a desk, and can sleep regardless of what is on their mind. Whilst it is natural to struggle to… Read more »

by ElizabethDavy 9 months ago

WHAT IS INSOMNIA AND WHO DOES IT AFFECT?

I have always envied people who can sleep effortlessly. These people, who I refer to as ‘normal people’, can sleep anywhere, be it on an aeroplane or at a desk, and can sleep regardless of what is on their mind. Whilst it is natural to struggle to sleep from time to time, when tossing and turning for hours becomes a normality it is known as ‘insomnia’, a condition believed to affect 1 in 10 people in the UK.

The symptoms of insomnia are easy to self-diagnose. Sufferers will lie awake for hours, if not all night, in an effort to sleep, or will wake up frequently in the night for long periods of time; insomnia can affect anyone, at any age, for any length of time. Perhaps the worst effect of insomnia is chronic exhaustion, which ‘normal people’ will struggle to empathise with.

As students, pressures such as exams and relationships can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally.

My personal experience with insomnia is common amongst teenagers: I have struggled with the condition since the beginning of secondary school, and its effects intensify during exam season. Initially, the prospect of going into an exam after a sleepless night was terrifying, but, after speaking to teachers and researching the condition myself, I realised that insomnia is something that can, and should, be managed. If you are struggling with insomnia or another sleep-related disorder, all you need to make are small changes to your sleeping routine to see major improvements to your quality of sleep.

TIPS FOR MITIGATING THE EFFECTS OF INSOMNIA

  1. Banish all screens at least two hours before bed, including television screens (so no more bingewatching Netflix in the evening)

  2. Keep a diary next to your bed, and write down any worries you have immediately before sleeping

  3. Read a novel or magazine for at least fifteen minutes before bed

  4. Drink plenty of water in the evening, and keep a glass of water next to your bed every night

  5. Do not consume caffeinated drinks after six o’clock in the evening – consider de-caffeinated alternatives

  6. Try not to eat a large meal immediately before bed

  7. Equally, ensure you do not go to bed without having eaten a meal after school

  8. Consider sleeping with white noise – there are white noise playlists on YouTube designed to aid sleep, or you could sleep with a fan on

  9. Consider listening to relaxing music at night – typically, ‘relaxing’ music will not contain lyrics, and will be set at a low volume

  10. Avoid revising for exams in bed – physically detaching revision from your sleeping area will help you to forget about any upcoming tests you may have

  11. Find something to look forward to every day, be it a meal, a lesson or a school trip, and focus on this as you fall asleep

  12. Try natural remedies such as lavender spray, which are designed to relax the body and mind

  13. Talk to a responsible adult about the problems you are experiencing – insomnia is not a battle which should be fought alone

IF NONE OF THESE TIPS WORK

You have banished the screens and the caffeine, read a novel for fifteen minutes, and drenched your pillow in lavender, but you still cannot fall asleep – do not panic! Everyone, even ‘normal people’, will find it hard to sleep every so often. As an insomniac, it is natural to have good nights and bad nights. In the event of difficulty sleeping, try not to worry about feeling tired the next day, and try to think positively as opposed to focusing on your inability to sleep: the more you do not think about sleep, the easier it will be to sleep! If you repeatedly find yourself unable to sleep, despite making all the small changes suggested above, it is advisable to consult a doctor, who may be able to provide medication to help you sleep.

WHY NO ONE SHOULD BE AFRAID OF INSOMNIA

Insomnia is an inconvenience, but it should not define you. By following these tips and making teachers and parents aware of the problems you are experiencing, you can ensure that you are in control of your sleep.