Living with Insomnia

Sleep is so important. It allocates time for your body and mind to recharge and prepare for what’s to come. It can even help prevent you from getting certain illnesses. But what happens if you can’t seem to sleep, no matter how hard you try? 

Well, you wouldn’t be the first person—nor last. It is reported that 30 percent of Canadians struggle with getting to or staying asleep at any given time. Insomnia seems to affect women at a higher rate, too. So why are so many people struggling with their sleep?

Insomnia goes hand in hand with many mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, and ADHD. That’s because it’s a common symptom for those struggling with mental illness. 

Understanding Insomnia

Sleepless nights during high-stress seasons of life are understandable but once your lack of sleep spans at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more, that’s considered to be chronic insomnia

Our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. Think of it as an internal clock—it helps give cues to let you know when you’re hungry or tired. 

When it gets dark outside, your body reacts by producing a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin plays a key role in your sleep cycle, as it lets your body know that you’re ready for bed. 

Being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production. This is why taking melatonin supplements is so popular—a lot of us are on our phones up until the minute we try and fall asleep.

How to Treat Insomnia

The bad news is, insomnia can become a vicious cycle. You sleep badly at night, feel fatigued during the day, compensate with unhealthy daytime habits which then affect your nighttime habits. 

The good news is, insomnia is treatable and can even be cured. First, you must get to the root cause of your insomnia. To break the cycle, try sitting down with yourself and asking this list of questions:

  1. Are you under any sort of stress?
  2. Are you feeling depressed? Do you feel emotionally numb or hopefless about the future?
  3. Do you struggle with daily anxiety or feelings of worry?
  4. Have you recently endured a traumatic experience?
  5. Are you taking any medications that could possibly affect your sleep?
  6. Do you have any health problems that are a cause for concern?
  7. Do you enjoy your bedroom? Do you sleep in a quiet and comfortable environment?
  8. Are your sleep and wake up times the same time every day?

Do you notice a pattern? Did you learn something you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed? If not, that’s okay. 

Maybe try tracking the events in your days along with your caffeine intake and screen time to see if you can make any correlations with your sleeping patterns. If you do notice a pattern, try adjusting your daytime and nighttime habits.

It’s important to note that you are not broken and that recovery may not happen as soon as you’d like it to. There are so many great resources on insomnia and sleep hygiene, whether it’s a book, a podcast, or a TED Talk, there’s always something to learn.

Want to Talk About It?

If you’d like to speak to someone about your insomnia, or anything else for that matter, consider booking a vent session with one of our active listeners today!

If insomnia has affected your daily life for some time, please consult a doctor or a psychologist.

  • Danielle Boucher

    Danielle is a freelance writer and editor based out of Ottawa. She is currently studying Publishing at Ryerson University and navigating her lifelong relationship with her mental health one day at a time.

    View all posts
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