Is INSOMNIA Caused by Poor Sleep Hygiene?


Israel Galeano wearing headphones, looking at his phone and laptop, drinking beer and espresso late at night, with a large clock that shows past 1:30 am. Gold circles and dots logo with Galeano Massage in white cursive letters.

There is nothing that feels worse than when you are suffering from a bout of insomnia. It has been reported that 1.8 billion people suffered from insomnia in 2022. With such staggering numbers, we may ask: What connection is there between poor sleep hygiene and insomnia?

There is a direct link between poor sleep hygiene and insomnia. Insomnia can occur for multiple reasons, but if you improve your sleep hygiene and insomnia subsides, you may conclude that poor sleep hygiene was the reason for your insomnia.

To be able to get to the root of insomnia and determine if poor sleep hygiene is the cause, we first have to learn what these two are. Then we will discover the connection between insomnia and poor sleep hygiene.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a disorder that affects a person’s sleep. It results in difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. If you suffer from disturbances in your sleep or are unable to fall asleep for 14 days or longer, it’s considered to be a condition known as insomnia. Insomnia is characterized as a mental health disorder and requires diagnosis and treatment by a mental health professional.

Insomnia, or lack of sleep, significantly affects the quality of a person’s life. It can lead to personality changes, suicidal thoughts, imbalanced moods, accidents, relationship problems, and even death.

Sleep is essential to normal human body health and function. When there is a deficit of adequate sleep, the body cannot carry out its normal bodily functions that eliminate metabolic waste and generate cell growth for the natural repair of body organs.

What Is Poor Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is the set of habits we carry out that directly contribute to and affect our sleep. It’s the daily routine that we carry out that could enable us to sleep soundly or suffer from an inability to fall asleep and suffer from sleeplessness.

Poor sleep hygiene is having an erratic and inconsistent sleep schedule, an unhealthy diet, allowing your body to become dehydrated, inactivity, late-night music or TV watching, being around loud noises and bright lights hours before bedtime, overcaffeinating, and late-night alcohol consumption.

Even just doing a few or just one of these can be called poor sleep hygiene. If you live with other people, they can also be the cause of your poor sleep hygiene if they are causing you to go to bed and wake up inconsistently, watch TV or listen to music close to your bedtime, expose you to bright lights close to your bedtime, or wake you up after you have fallen asleep and you’re unable to get back to sleep.

How Poor Sleep Hygiene and Insomnia Are Connected

It’s important to know the connection between our habits and sleeplessness. If we understand what could be causing insomnia, we can also take steps to correct it.

Sleep/Wake Cycle: We all have a natural built-in sleep/awake cycle called the circadian rhythm. All humans need to be asleep at night and awake during the day. There are variances in the timing for each individual. Some are naturally prone to going to bed earlier in the day, such as at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., and some are prone to going to bed at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. Some people are early-risers. They rise with the sun, or even earlier, such as at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m., and some rise at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m.

It’s important to honor your natural sleep/wake cycle and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Any change in when we go to bed or when we wake up can throw our natural rhythm out of synch, causing us to not be able to fall or stay asleep and to wake up too early.

Caffeine Consumption: Not everyone metabolizes caffeine in the same way. There are three categories of metabolizers when it comes to caffeine: Slow, Moderate, and Fast metabolizers. Those who are slow metabolizers do better by cutting off caffeine from their diet by 10 a.m. at the latest. Moderate metabolizers do best by cutting off caffeine by 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. Fast metabolizers process and eliminate caffeine so quickly that they can literally consume caffeine just before bed and not be affected by the effects of caffeine.

Caffeine is a chemical that blocks adenosine receptors in our brains. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that slows down nerve cell activity and makes a person feel tired and sleepy. The more caffeine, the less adenosine can attach to receptors that make you feel like going to sleep.

If you are a slow or moderate metabolizer of caffeine, you need to be very cautious. Even having too much caffeine before the cut-off time can mess with your sleep. It only takes an extra small amount of caffeine or caffeine at the wrong time to throw you into sleeplessness. Experiment with the amount and timing of your caffeine to see what works best for you. Be patient and persistent; this can take some time to get right.

Blue Light Exposure: Blue light comes from our electronic-screened devices as well as the Sun. This type of light can signal to our brains that it’s still day because we’re looking at our devices in the evening and at night, even though the sun has been set for hours already. It suppresses the brain’s natural distribution of a sleep hormone called melatonin.

Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol is thought by many to be a relaxant or depressant, but in reality, it’s a stimulant. Many people will feel relaxed when drinking alcohol, but once the body starts to metabolize the alcohol, it has a stimulating effect on the body. Consuming too much alcohol or being too close to bed can result in feelings of jitteriness, restlessness, and feeling wide awake.

Bathing/Massage: If you had a bad, hectic day or just got sweaty and dirty, you can feel kinda gross getting into your bed. Also, if you have muscle aches from overuse, your sore muscles can keep you from being able to fully relax and unwind to fall asleep.

However, taking a bath or shower can do the opposite for us at the end of the day. Feeling clean and refreshed can put us in a good mood to fall asleep. Knowing that you washed off the day and what came with it and are cozy in fresh jammies is very comforting. Self-massage is a great way to soothe sore, tired muscles. Cozying up with a relaxing herbal caffeine-free tea before bed can further contribute to our relaxation and help us fall asleep fast.

How to Improve Sleep Hygiene to Fall Asleep!

  • Limit Caffeine
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Hydrate
  • Get physical activity every day
  • Avoid daytime napping
  • Keep a clean bedroom with comfortable warm bedding
  • Limit Alcohol
  • Don’t Smoke
  • Wear Blue Light blocking glasses
  • Turn down the noise
  • Self-massage
  • Take a bath before bed
  • Drink caffeine-free tea like chamomile, linden flower, lavender, or peppermint

I personally do and practice all of these suggestions. It’s taken me years to implement and find out what works for me. I suffer from insomnia but with good sleep hygiene and my psychiatrist’s help, I’ve been able to get to sleep..Yay! In fact, the first thing my psychiatrist asked was how my sleep hygiene was. It’s that important!

If you’re dealing with insomnia and have gotten your sleep hygiene in a good place but are still suffering, get help from a mental health professional. Other factors could be causing your insomnia and need the proper and adequate medical attention to overcome.


MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a trained qualified physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Galeano Massage nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements or those diagnosed with a medical illness should consult their physicians before implementing any of the self-care advice in this article.


Sarah

I've been practicing Massage Therapy since 2014. I'm a health and wellness enthusiast. I'm always learning and experimenting with different techniques, recipes, and healing modalities. I believe that we need to approach health and wellness from a WHOLE-listic point of view and understand that it will constantly be changing and is never stagnant. We are all unique and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. As I grow, change, and experiment I will share what I have learned as it may help someone else in need.

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