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Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

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Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Having issues sleeping is a sure fire way to live a less fulfilled life. Personally, I’m a believer that getting enough sleep consistently is one of the best things that you can do for your health. Feeling out of control and powerless over your ability to get a good nights rest can make you nuts.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, this article will help shed some light on the causes and provide resolutions to your sleep issues.

What Is Insomnia?

In a nutshell, insomnia is the inability to sleep. What’s so brutally torturous about insomnia is that you can be completely exhausted, yet unable to fall asleep.

Insomnia can be an acute issue (short term), meaning that it can creep into your life for a night or a few weeks.

It can also present as a chronic issue, meaning it ebbs and flows and comes and visits you every know and then, although uninvited. Chronic insomnia is diagnosed when the individual suffers at least three nights a week for three months or longer.

Symptoms of Insomnia

There are a spider web of symptoms that can root from insomnia, especially when it shows up chronically in your life. According to WebMD, general symptoms of insomnia can include:[1]

  • Sleepiness during the day
  • General tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Problems with concentration or memory

In addition to these general symptoms, insomnia can effect your relationships, career life and limit activities that give you joy, strictly because you don’t have the energy or motivation to do them.

Feeling exhausted really takes a huge toll on your mood, energy level and overall zest for life. Just like any issue, overtime a lot of other consequences can, and most likely will, result. This is so with lack of sleep.

Reasons of Insomnia

Insomnia can strike any of us at any point of our lives. A major cause of sleeplessness is stress and worry.

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I know that when I’ve had periods of time where there has been a ton on my mind, it’s resulted in sleep disturbance. I can recall nights just laying there as hours past by.

Below are more detailed reasons why insomnia would come knocking at your door:

According to WebMD, the causes of acute insomnia can include:

  • Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving)
  • Illness
  • Emotional or physical discomfort
  • Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
  • Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep
  • Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example)

According to WebMD causes of chronic insomnia include:

How to Overcome Insomnia

There are, without a doubt, many things you can attempt to do differently in order to get your sleep habits back to a healthy state. Even if you’ve struggled with sleep for years, please know that you can find relief.

Here are 10 tips on how to combat insomnia:

1. Believe That You Can Develop a Healthy Sleep Life

Believing that you can is a huge part in getting beyond any difficulty. If that’s where you need to start, it’s worth really looking at your belief system surrounding what’s possible for your sleep patterns.

Just as if you didn’t believe that you can find love, if you don’t believe that you can find a good groove with your sleep, it will be very difficult to do so.

2. Stay Away from Any Screen Time Before Bed

Everything that you come across is being ingested, including what you watch and listen too.

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Be mindful to make time to wind down before bed by disconnecting from anything that’s coming at you. This can be a violent flick or a charged up sports game.

To go further, even if you’re watching something mellow, the blue light from screens can affect circadian rhythms, which can mess up your sleep cycle.

Just as you can feel super loopy after traveling that entails changing time zones, your devices can have a similar effect.

3. Have a Consistent Bed Time

I get it, routines can take the fun away from life, although some routines can guarantee that the fun will keep going around.

Just like little kids need consistency via their routines to avoid melt downs, we, as adults, need to do consistent things for our health to stay grounded.

Having a consistent bedtime routine allows your body to have a flow, which will help it, overall, function at its best.

4. Avoid Caffeine Intake After Noon

I know that asking some of you to avoid caffeine all together is just a hard “No.” Therefore, I’ll ask you to avoid any intake of caffeine after 12pm.

Why, you ask?

This gives your body time to process the stimulant effects that caffeine has and can potentially really help your sleep cycle.

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5. Keep an Eye on Your Alcohol Intake

If you’re struggling with sleep, drinking is one habit that can truly be interfering with your sleep.

Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality. It’s deceiving because initially alcohol can make you “pass out” and fall asleep quickly, although the deepest and most restful part of sleep, (REM), rapid eye movement sleep, is compromised when we drink alcohol.

This is why, even if we do sleep sound after a couple drinks, the quality of our sleep was not a pure that it would be without alcohol processing in our bodies.

6. Move Your Body Consistently

I feel like this suggestion is always on one of my tip lists! Getting regular exercise has so many benefits including what it can do for your sleep pattern.

Utilizing up some of your daily energy by moving your body is a win/win on so many levels. It keeps you fit, it keeps you feeling emotionally better, it helps release endorphins and it can improve the quality of your sleep.

If you’re having issues sleeping; try regular exercise. It could be a game changer for you.

7. Don’t Go to Bed Full

When we go to bed full, we are already at a disadvantage because being full is uncomfortable.

Eliminating any states of discomfort is a key step to ensuring that our sleep is going to be higher quality. Be mindful of eating a big meal right before you go to sleep. Your digestive track will be happy not to have to go into busy mode when your system is trying to shut down.

8. Create a Zen Vibe in Your Bedroom

One of the key ways to create an ideal sleep environment is to bring a sense of calm and comfort to your sleep space. If you have the means, invest in nice bedding, buy an essential oil diffuser (lavender oil is great for calming), get some amethyst stones to promote calming and healing energy.

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Do your best to make sure your sleep environment is dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold. Do whatever you are called to do to make your bedroom a place of peace and rest. Need I say to avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep (or sex.)

9. Make a List

What do you mean make a list? I mean, that if you find yourself with a racing mind right before bedtime, write your thoughts down.

Take all the mental noise and write it down in a list type format to put it somewhere other than floating around in your head. This action has been so helpful for some of my clients that have struggled with sleep disturbance.

10. Find Flow through Rhythm

There have been times where I have literally self soothed my way back to sleep by finding rhythm. I’ve found rhythm with counting numbers; both backward and forward. Although, I don’t care what you count; just count.

Counting creates rhythm and it also creates a space to focus our thoughts. This is especially true for those of us who have a worried and racing mind.

The Bottom Line

As I mentioned a bit earlier, there is hope for anyone struggling with sleep disturbance. A significant first step toward addressing any issue is becoming more familiar with it.

We can combat this issue with understanding symptoms and causes. Often times, we’ve never been taught that simple, small habits that we’ve been doing can be the gateway to our disturbed sleep patterns. That one shot of expresso after dinner can be a killer for those of us struggling with sleep.

Do your pat to clear up all that you can on your end, but tidying up what’s within your control.

As always, if your symptoms continue there are specialist and other avenues to take. Talk with your medical doctor to get more details of higher levels of assistance toward your sleep.

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Be well.

More Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kim Egel

Kim Egel is a licensed therapist whose private practice is centered around the concepts of the mind, body & soul connection.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2022

How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

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How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

Does your digestive system seem off lately? Or has it been like that for a while? Have you been experiencing feelings of stress or burnout? If the answer to both these questions is yes, it could be the stress that’s driving your digestive system out of whack. You might also be wondering how you can improve your digestion.

Studies show that your stress levels can wreak havoc on both your mind and body.[1] One of the biggest ways that stress can impair your body’s condition is by disrupting the performance of your digestive system, resulting in a variety of adverse health consequences.

How Stress Affects Digestion

Some of the most common digestive issues caused by stress include heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, diarrhea, and indigestion. Stress can also indirectly trigger the development of irritable bowel syndrome by affecting your immune system.

Researchers have also shown that individuals already suffering from IBS tend to have frequent flare-ups of systems when they are under considerable stress.[2] Conditions such as IBS and other gastrointestinal tract diseases are considered stress-sensitive disorders. Effective treatment usually entails the patient learning to cope with and manage their stress levels.[3]

A scientific review also discovered that there could be a strong correlation between high levels of stress and eating disorders, such as overeating and obesity.[4] When an individual is experiencing stress, their adrenal glands release cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. This hormone is known to increase appetite, leading to overeating and other related eating disorders. People with high cortisol levels are more likely to consume foods with high fat and/or sugar content, resulting in more digestive issues and weight gain.

Effectively reducing your stress levels can help reduce inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and lower the sensitivity of your gut. Moreover, lower stress levels contribute to easing any gastrointestinal distress you may be experiencing, while at the same time optimizing nutritional uptake.

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If you find that your stress levels are high affecting your digestion, here are some tips that can help heal your gut.

1. Increase Your Level of Physical Activity

One way to boost your digestion and, at the same time, lower your stress levels is by engaging in moderate physical activity regularly. Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the different parts of your digestive system, which makes it easier for food to move along the digestive tract while improving the efficiency of the digestive muscles.

This movement of food along the digestive tract is known as peristalsis. Common signs that your peristalsis is not working optimally include constant constipation and diarrhea, and in some extreme situations, motility disorder.

Movement and exercise are also important in triggering the release of endorphins, which help relieve tension and are considered natural pain relievers. Endorphins are also quite effective at boosting one’s sleep quality, which is essential in combatting high levels of stress.

Physical activities that are known to improve digestion include regular running, walking, and biking. Yoga poses that focus on improving posture and alignment are also helpful in easing and eradicating gastrointestinal distress and act as a potent stress reliever.

2. Consider Foods That Are Natural Stress Relievers

Scientists have also discovered that some foods naturally contain mood-boosting properties. Consuming such foods can help relieve your stress symptoms while still providing your body with critical nutrients for optimal health.

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Almonds, for instance, contain high levels of magnesium, a mineral that has been proven to help manage cortisol levels in the body. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin B, which, together with magnesium, help in increasing the production of serotonin, a powerful mood stabilizer and feel-good hormone.

Moreover, low levels of serotonin in the body have been linked to the development of irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, and duodenal ulcers, as well as episodes of bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.[5]

Dark chocolate is another type of snack that can help boost your digestion and bring down your stress levels. It is considered a highly efficient mood booster, but it also has a direct impact on your body’s digestive system. For starters, dark chocolate has a high concentration of flavonoids, a major antioxidant agent.

This chocolate also has high fiber content, mainly because of the cocoa used in production. When the gut bacteria ferment the antioxidants and fiber contained in the dark chocolate, anti-inflammatory compounds are released.[6] These compounds are not only essential in fighting inflammation within your digestive system, but they also play a crucial role in improving cardiovascular function and combatting inflammation-related disorders throughout your body.

Cocoa has also been shown to trigger the production of more healthy microbes in the colon, a further boost to your digestive system. It is also highly recommended to eat foods that are rich in probiotics and prebiotics. These compounds are critical in the production of good gut bacteria.

The abundance of good bacteria in the gut is essential for proper digestion of food and controlling inflammation within your digestive system and other parts of the body. Examples of foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, and natto.[7] Fruits and vegetables rich in prebiotics include the likes of onions, asparagus, garlic, and bananas. Consider making these gut-boosting foods part of your regular diet for enhanced digestive performance.

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3. Try Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics can also help improve your digestion. If you find that you don’t like probiotic foods or find them difficult to obtain, try a probiotic supplement instead. Research has shown probiotics to have remarkable effects on digestion, stress levels, immunity, and much more.[8]

Look for a probiotic that uses time-release tablets as these are more likely to deliver the probiotic bacteria safely past your stomach acid. Most probiotics in capsules are damaged or destroyed before they reach your intestines.

4. Avoid Foods That Can Impair Digestion

Just as there are good foods that can help improve digestion and simultaneously provide stress relief, there are foods that can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

Remember, when you are experiencing high levels of stress, your appetite increases, and you are more inclined to consume foods with a lot of (added) sugar and fats. Both these things are known to increase inflammation in people’s digestive systems, resulting in a variety of GI issues like constant bloating, diarrhea, and excessive gas.

Other major food culprits that can disrupt your digestive function include processed bread, white chocolate, coffee, and highly acidic foods.

5. Identify and Avoid Your Stress Triggers

An examination into what triggers your high-stress levels can help you identify these factors, and allow you to mitigate their impact on your physical and mental well-being.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that helps you uncover the source of your negative thinking as well as the triggers that cause your stress levels to elevate. CBT has been shown to reduce stress in individuals with IBS. Consequently, these individuals suffered fewer IBS symptoms. This demonstrates the effectiveness of therapy in minimizing stress, which then directly boosts the digestive health of the individual.[9]

Meditation and mindfulness are also powerful techniques that can help you ease your stress levels. Studies have also shown that these practices can also help ease inflammation across the body, including along your gastrointestinal tract. Meditating as well as doing some breathing exercises before eating can help relax you, which in turn allows your digestive system to function optimally.

6. Quit Smoking and Excessive Consumption of Alcohol

Our stress coping techniques can also significantly impair our digestive function. If you are using cigarettes and/or alcohol to cope with your stress, you are inadvertently introducing a host of dangerous chemicals that will affect your digestive health.

Smoking and alcohol consumption have been linked to a variety of GI diseases including heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, pancreatitis, liver diseases, and Crohn’s disease.[10] It’s imperative that you look for healthier stress coping mechanisms, such as meditation and exercise to avoid exposing your digestive system to dangerous compounds.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering how to improve your digestion, the first thing you should know is that your stress levels actively impact how well your digestive system functions. Addressing your stress triggers, through exercise, therapy, and physical activity will help bring down your stress levels and allow your body’s digestive system to function optimally.

Moreover, consume foods that are good for your digestion, including foods rich in magnesium, vitamin B, serotonin, fiber, and antioxidants. Lastly, avoid stress coping mechanisms that put your digestive system in jeopardy, like smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol.

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More Tips on How to Improve Digestion

Featured photo credit: Eugene Chystiakov via unsplash.com

Reference

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