Sleeplessness, or insomnia, is a condition I’m asked about over and over again. This isn’t really surprising when you think about it. Our diets, stressors and lifestyles coupled with artificial lighting, computer screens and televisions pretty much guarantee that we’re not always going to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (an important factor in conditioning our circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns).
But the other, more confounding, aspect of insomnia is its myriad causes; sleeplessness can be due to an over-active mind, too much caffeine, not enough food, too much food, spiking cortisol levels, spiking or dropping blood sugar levels or certain drugs and/or supplements. When a client comes to me with insomnia, I usually have to ask about diet, lifestyle, supplementation and when and how the insomnia occurs in order to recommend a treatment that will work.
So, here’s a little breakdown (and I’ll try to keep it interesting…that last thing I want is for this article to be an insomnia cure).
- When does your insomnia occur?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep?
- Is your mind active at night?
- Do you just feel completely awake and unable to go to sleep? Or does your insomnia occur in the early hours (2-4 a.m. is the classic time for this type of insomnia)?
- Do you feel anxious and is there a churning in your belly?
- Does your mind suddenly wake up, despite being exhausted, keeping you from getting back to sleep?
In my experience, morning and evening varieties are the two most common forms of chronic insomnia (as opposed to occasional insomnia, which we all experience, due to excitement or nerves before a big event or an over-indulgence of food, alcohol, or caffeine).
So, I’m going to break it down here into these three types: evening, morning, and occasional insomnia. Hopefully this will cover everything like a (bad pun warning) nice warm blanket.