Mind your mental health 10: Insomnia

By Editor Apr 1, 2016



By Aisling O’Connor


Insomnia itself is not a mental illness; however, because it is a common symptom and result of several mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder, it is worth covering.


Furthermore, insomnia alone is a huge cause of mental turmoil and stress. Symptoms of insomnia include being unable to or finding it difficult to fall asleep, waking up frequently during the night, and feeling unrested after waking up. Due to the lack of sleep, the person experiencing insomnia can be irritable, unable to concentrate, suffer memory loss, and feel extremely tired throughout the day. As always, there are ways of easing and rectifying the issue:

  • Regulate your sleeping pattern: this can be difficult in college when your time table ranges from 9am to 3pm starts, but going to bed and getting up at the same times gets your body into a habit of falling asleep and waking regularly.
  • Cut the caffeine: Try not to go over 3 cups of coffee a day, and avoid caffeine entirely after 6 pm. If sleep doesn’t improve try switching to decaf and ditching the energy drinks.
  • Tea: Camomile tea and peppermint teas are relaxing and will help you sleep better. There are a ton of different sleep teas out there to try if you don’t like these ones.
  • Lavender: I mentioned the calming benefits of burning lavender essence (or using a scented candle) way back in the first Mind your Mental Health, lavender is known to soothe and relax and used in a lot of herbal sleep remedies.
  • Exercise:  Do your exercise during the day as it will tire you, however avoid it before bed as your body releases endorphins after exercise, which will boost your mood but won’t help you sleep any better.
  • Eat a light meal: Having a huge meal before bed will leave you bloated, uncomfortable, and your body will spend the night trying to digest it. Some may be happy to know than carb-y snacks are ideal before bed because carbohydrates release tryptophan which induces sleep so cereal, toast, or crackers are recommended. Unfortunately, chocolate contains caffeine so the Nutella toast should wait till breakfast.
  • Switch off: the late night DMCs on messenger won’t do you any favours here, try turning electrical devices off an hour before bed and winding down with a book instead. If your mind goes into hyper-drive at night, making a to-do-list for the next day might curb worries, and keeping your room organised and clean as a hectic space results in a hectic mind.
  • Meditation: Calm is a fantastic and free app which offers short meditations and body scans to relax you. Youtube is also packed with sleep meditations.
  • Music: Some people prefer a quiet room, but music such as instrumentals (lyrics keep the mind active), classical, and natural soundtracks such as ocean sounds and thunderstorms can lull you to sleep.
  • Medication: I’ve mentioned before that sleeping pills should be a last ditch effort as they are known to be extremely addictive and the quality of sleep is not the same as regular sleep. However, different treatments work for different people.



By Editor

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