Solutions for sudden onset insomnia

Q:  Suddenly I’m not sleeping well.  I had insomnia in the past, but had been sleeping well for months.  I don’t feel especially stressed, but suspect this has something to do with starting a new semester at school.  Recently I also increased my exercise program so it’s longer and more intense.  Could that have something to do with this?  I also used to take anxiety medication but no longer do, maybe that’s a factor as well.  My biggest problem is feeling more tired each day and I really don’t want to have to battle the world anymore while feeling sleep deprived all day.  Any ideas what could be causing this?

A:  Not wanting to battle the world while sleep deprived is very understandable.  Rest assured, many with insomnia feel exactly the same way.  Sure, we all want to perform at our best, and getting a good night’s sleep is an important part of that.

Your suspicions about the underlying causes for your sleep troubles sound reasonable.   But it’s difficult to be more specific based only on this information.  For instance, are you now taking any other prescription medications?

If not, then it would not be surprising if you are feeling some of the rebound effect from the cessation of the anti-anxiety medication.  All of these kinds of drugs have some sort of side-effect.  The most common one from sleeping pills is daytime drowsiness.  This would be something to ask your doctor.

You mentioned anxiety, and it would also not be surprising if a negative anticipation of the new school semester is connected with your insomnia.  If you are experiencing anxiety issues, I would encourage you to get counseling for it.  There are many good and effective ways to counter anxiety.  Getting professional help for this is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of strength.  By doing so, you will benefit and so will your sleep.

You also may be experiencing some sleep state misperception, which is very common among insomniacs.  We tend to forget about what sleep we get, and discount it’s value.  We tend to focus only on the negativity of what sleep we feel we missed, instead of the benefit of the sleep we actually get.  There’s some value to be attained in understanding this objectively and realistically.

You likely will be well served by focusing on controlling what you can during your waking hours in an effort to create the best sleep experience possible.

These kinds of things include a consistent sleep schedule, especially getting up at the same time every day.  Your exercise plan sounds great, providing it isn’t too late in the day.  Ideally you want exercise early in the day, and at least several hours prior to bedtime if possible.

You can also allow yourself a relaxing cool down period of at least an hour before bed if possible. Try do nothing stressful and avoid anxiety to the best of your ability during this time.   During your cool down time, you can do things like get your clothes ready for morning, prepare a to-do list for the next day so you have a plan, take a warm bath, read an enjoyable book, and so on.  This winding down is an important step to help prepare your mind and body for sleep.

Will it be perfect?  No.  None of us can do that.  But it can be better, and that is reasonable to go for.

All these ideas and much more are contained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) specifically designed to treat insomnia.  If you want to know more about these common sense ideas to improve sleep naturally and without drugs, you will find much more information about good CBT for sleep programs online.

Good luck.  School is an exciting time for growth and learning.  And by prioritizing a good sleep supportive lifestyle, you can help yourself be at your best.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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