If you can’t fall or stay asleep lately, you might be wondering how it’s affecting you. Some insomnia symptoms are easy to spot, while others can be pinned on different reasons. That can trick you into thinking you don’t have insomnia at all.
Knowing if you’re experiencing any symptoms can help you decide whether it’s time to check out what causes insomnia and try to correct your issue, or if you’ll give it a bit longer to see if it passes on its own.
How Sleeping Problems Affect Our Lives
Before you understand how not getting enough rest impacts your life, you may have a question that needs to be answered: What is sleep insomnia?
There are different types, including primary insomnia, acute insomnia, and chronic insomnia, but they all lead to similar problems -- sleep deprivation and the symptoms associated with that.
Getting enough sleep is a basic human need -- it’s not just something we like to do for the fun of it. Your body works best when it is getting adequate rest, just as it works best when you’re getting the proper nutrition and hydration. And when you don’t get enough, there are consequences that you’ll begin to see as you notice the signs of insomnia.
Over time, it can contribute to the development of a serious health condition such as diabetes or heart issues.
Red Flags You May Have Insomnia
Just as with many medical conditions, there are early indications that people with insomnia may notice if they’re paying enough attention. They aren’t always obvious though.
If you already know you have sleep apnea you aren’t treating, that’s a red flag you may be having symptoms of insomnia. You’re likely getting less restful sleep from frequent nighttime wakings as you struggle to breathe because of your apnea. Medical problems can often lead to a sleep problem.
If you do have any medical issues that are causing sleep troubles for you, you should deal with them.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for sleep apnea can take care of insomnia that’s caused by that condition. You might sound a bit like Darth Vader when you’re breathing while wearing it. But that’s a lot better than putting up with the symptoms of sleep deprivation and potentially developing a medical condition down the road because of it.
If you don’t have any medical conditions that make you suspect you have insomnia, you’re going to have to watch for the subtle, early signs.
You may notice it is taking you longer to fall asleep at night or that you have a harder time getting back to sleep after you’ve woken up in the middle of the night. You might, in the early stages, feel tired during the day, just as you would have back in your college days if you stayed up all night for a last-minute study session.
These early signs are much milder than full-fledged chronic insomnia symptoms as your body goes longer without getting proper rest. But sleep deprivation can turn dangerous quickly -- more than 100,000 car accidents are caused each year by drowsy drivers. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body for signs something isn’t right and to seek solutions if you suspect insomnia.
Is It Just Bad Sleep or True Insomnia?
Part of the reason insomnia tends to sneak up on people is because we just chalk it up to a few nights of bad sleep.
We’ve all had those nights where we toss and turn and sleep fitfully. Bad sleep can happen for any reason, but some common triggers are sleeping in a room that’s too hot, having a vivid nightmare, or sleeping away from home.
But a bad night’s sleep will correct itself usually the next night or when the circumstance that is causing it, such as a few nights away from home, is corrected.
Insomnia tends to last much longer -- even the acute kind can last up to three months. The chronic kind can last for several months or even years. That’s why figuring out how to sleep with insomnia is such a big deal -- you have to find a solution for the sake of your health.
Whether you’re having a bad night’s sleep or are struggling with insomnia, there are several things you can do to get better rest without resorting to taking sleep medicine.
You can set your bedroom’s temperature at a cool enough setting that you’re comfortable. You can use white noise, like a fan, to help relax you and drown out distracting noises.
Another thing that helps to improve sleep for both situations is using a weighted blanket. If you’re not familiar with weighted blankets, they are heavier than a typical blanket you would use for sleeping.
They come in varying weights -- generally from four to 30 pounds. Having that extra weight on you while you sleep can help reduce the anxiety and stress people feel, which can result in better sleep. These blankets are good for a number of conditions, like Restless Leg Syndrome, autism, insomnia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and fibromyalgia.
If you decide to get one, select a blanket that is about 10 percent of your body weight. You may want to put a duvet cover on the one you get because it will make cleaning it much easier. You’ll just unzip the duvet cover and toss it in the washing machine.
Insomnia Symptoms Checklist
Still wondering if you have insomnia or you’ve just had a couple of off nights sleeping lately? Here is a comprehensive list of symptoms you may notice if you have a sleep disorder. You don’t have to have every item on the list to be suffering from it -- you may have some and not others.
Or you might be still in the early stages of insomnia. Some of these symptoms will get worse as you go more nights without quality sleep. Symptoms of insomnia include:
- Trouble falling asleep at night.
- Waking up earlier than you have to or intend to in the morning.
- Waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to fall back to sleep.
- Feeling tired or even exhausted during the day.
- Changes in your mood, such as depression, anxiousness, anger, or irritation.
- A worsening work performance -- you may be making mistakes, taking sick days to catch up on rest, or not getting along as well with coworkers.
- You’re worried about your lack of sleep.
- Feeling like you didn’t get enough sleep when you wake up in the morning.
- Less energy for hobbies and exercise.
- An impaired immune system -- you may notice you’re having more health problems than usual, like colds and minor illnesses.
Get More Than a Wink of Sleep
If you’re experiencing the signs of insomnia, it’s time to do something about it. It’s hard to live your life fully when you feel like you can barely stay awake the majority of the day.
Before your sleep issue gets too far out of control, you should look into measures to control it. You’ll feel better when you’re well rested, and every area of your life will improve.
Plus, your co-workers will no longer feel the need to turn the other way when they see you coming if you’ve been a real pill lately because of sleep deprivation. You’ll all be relieved at the difference a good night’s sleep can make for you.