The amount and quality of sleep can be affected by biological, physical and psychological factors. Sleep disorders are a frequent reason for visits to the doctor. Insomnia is the most common disorder with the greatest health and social importance. It is estimated that around 30% of the general population has suffered from some form of insomnia: difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night and waking up early.
Sleep disorders not only affect sleep, but they can also have repercussions while we are awake: fatigue, poor concentration, drowsiness, mood swings such as irritability, dysphoria, tension, and even dysthymia or feeling down.
Types of insomnia
There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary.
Primary insomnia is a disorder with an unknown cause, lasting at least four weeks and it can be related to stress, emotional disturbances, and changes in sleep rhythms such as those caused by night shift work schedules or travel.
Secondary insomnia is a consequence of another medical disorder. It is often a symptom of an emotional disorder such as depression or anxiety.
Tips for sleeping better
- During the day, try to keep the time you go to bed and wake up regular. Avoid napping. Restrict the consumption of tobacco, coffee, tea, cola or alcohol, especially in the evening. Do moderate exercise, preferably before mid-afternoon, and if possible, with exposure to sunlight.
- A few hours before bedtime, try not to do any activities that are stressful or require a lot of attention. Avoid big and/or heavy meals. Practice relaxation exercises. A bath at body temperature can help the body to relax.
- At night, create the right ambience for falling asleep: a nice temperature, minimal light and noise, comfortable clothes, etc. Before going to bed, a routine can be repeated every night to help prepare mentally for going to sleep: brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas, etc. If it's been more than 30 minutes from bedtime and you still haven't fallen asleep, get up and go to another room to do something relaxed, like reading a book, watching TV, etc. and then go back to the bedroom when you feel sleepy again. This way, you will associate your bed with falling asleep straight away.