Insomnia, we’ve all been introduced to it. That moment when you have been lying in bed for a long time and think, I can’t sleep. While the rest of the world is sleeping soundly, you are still awake. This is obviously very annoying, but rest assured, you are not alone! Below we take you into the world of night owls and what to do if you can’t sleep. Hopefully, this will give you the edge over the rest of the night and you’ll sleep as well as the other sixty percent.
Table of contents
A CBS Research (2018) continues to show that 1 in 5 Dutch people have sleep problems. Many people suffer from a period of sleep problems. If you sleep badly several nights a week, you may have Insomnia.
Insomnia, or insomnia is a sleep disorder which actually means “no sleep. In fact, the natural sleep rhythm is disturbed, causing you to sleep too little for several nights. This manifests itself in difficulty falling asleep, waking up often in the night and/or waking up very early and not being able to fall back asleep. If this continues for weeks or months, one can speak of a chronic insomnia. For this it is best to go to the doctor to find a good solution.
Poor sleep can have several causes. Not being able to sleep often has a psychological cause, which causes tension in the body. This may be due to stress, fretting or anxiety, which causes hormones to continue to be released, keeping us awake.
Stress causes you to have trouble getting to sleep. Stress is in fact a survival mechanism, which releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which have protected us humans from (possible) danger since prehistoric times. It is actually a kind of ‘alert system’ of the body. As a result, you cannot relax properly, so you cannot fall asleep properly.
Nowadays our body experiences many stimuli during the day, making relaxation very difficult which is often the cause of sleep problems. Because of stress, we sleep badly and we do not get to sleep well. This means that stress has a negative influence on our sleep quality, but also on the duration of our sleep. The result of this can be a vicious circle, since sleeping badly again causes stress.
However, we can also experience stress during sleep. In our REM sleep, we can experience dreams very intensely, which can cause the release of stress hormones. Also, by experiencing daily stress, the REM sleep becomes longer.
For an explanation of REM sleep, read the following article:
When we are brooding there is often an unending stream of negative thoughts. Especially in the evening and at night there is a lot of worrying, because in bed there are fewer distractions that can occupy our thoughts. In addition, everything seems worse at night because we can no longer see things in perspective. This is because the part of our brain where emotions and thoughts are managed is also less active at night.
This all comes about because in the “resting situation” we turn on the so-called default network of our brain. This is a network in our subconscious which contains the problem-solving capacity of our thoughts. However, close to this network there is also another network that contains guilt and self-reflection. When we are brooding, these networks communicate very closely with each other, so you are daydreaming in the default network, but with a negative charge from the other network.
Worrying causes you to toss and turn in bed and feel restless. This restless feeling is often the cause of tension caused by fretting. This prevents you from relaxing properly to fall asleep.
Sleep anxiety also keeps people awake. This is a combination of insomnia and anxiety, namely the fear of not being able to fall asleep. In this, a person experiences a sense of panic about the pressure of having to sleep at night and then, of course, the pressure of having to sleep 8 hours minimally.
Some people experience a fear of falling asleep. This may manifest as an actual phobia, such as hypnophobia or somnophobia. These are phobias in which a person has a fear of falling asleep or a fear of not being able to sleep through properly. Both of these phobias may also cause people to lie awake for long periods of time.
What to do when you can’t sleep? Below we give you 5 tips for a quick result that you can fall asleep again quickly:
Through quiet and calm breathing, we help our nervous system take control of our body. This can help us relax to fall asleep peacefully. You can achieve this with breathing exercises or meditation, for example.
The benefits of this are that you experience less stress and sleep better as a result. Breathing slowly and deeply sends a signal to your body that it can relax. In doing so, you focus on the breath, which allows you to turn your attention away from other thoughts. Also, the heart rhythm is lowered, allowing you to become calmer and more relaxed. With this you will be able to fall asleep peacefully.
Music can touch us and does something to our brains. For example, music can also help us fall asleep. A quiet music with slow rhythm slows down the brain waves, breathing, causes a lower heart rate and a lower cortisol level, which is a part of our stress hormone. With this, music has a relaxing effect and we can fall asleep more easily. This is also why mediation music often has a slow rhythm.
In doing so, certain tones and sounds of music can have a positive impact on our brains, producing dopamine. This makes for a higher feeling of happiness, as well as calmness and better sleep.
If the thoughts keep grinding in your head, it can help to write them down. This can be done on paper or digitally (preferably more than an hour before bedtime). By writing down all the thoughts and collecting them you can get rid of them. This allows you to make a ‘download’ of your own brain, as it were, and you can literally visualize them and distance yourself from them. This allows you to let go of your worries and prepare for a relaxed sleep without restlessness in your head.
Sometimes it can help to get out of bed for a while. After all, body temperature is also important in falling asleep. Many people who sleep badly have, as research shows, a body temperature that is too high at the moment they try to fall asleep. Getting up from bed lowers your body temperature because you are no longer lying under a blanket and on a mattress. In doing so, you can also give yourself a reset, by doing something else and putting your focus somewhere other than sleep. This can help with falling asleep.
The bedroom is the place where you should be able to relax. Of course, this starts with a nice bed and a comfortable, but also good mattress. This sometimes seems like a big investment, but it’s well worth it. We sleep one third of our lives and it also affects our whole life if we sleep badly. This makes it important to have a good sleeping comfort, which starts with a good mattress.
For advice on a good mattress in combination with your personal sleeping position, we can help you through our contact methods as listed on our Contact page.
For other sleep advice, various sleep tests can be found on the Internet. If you think you suffer from a sleep phobia or chronic insomnia, it is advisable to contact your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you can't sleep then it's important to find relaxation again, with the following tips: 1. Focusing on breathing through breathing exercises or meditation. 2. Listening to music. Quiet music lowers the stress hormone, which relaxes you. 3. Write down your troubled thoughts. 4. If you really can't sleep, get up from bed and do something relaxing. 5. Make sure you are comfortable sleeping with a good mattress and comfortable bed.
To fall asleep comfortably, it is important to relax, with the following tips: 1. Focusing on breathing through breathing exercises or meditation. 2. Listening to music. Quiet music lowers the stress hormone, which relaxes you. 3. Write down your troubled thoughts. 4. If you really can't sleep, get up from bed and do something relaxing. 5. Make sure you are comfortable sleeping with a good mattress and comfortable bed.
Not being able to sleep often has a psychological cause, which causes tension in the body. This can be due to stress, fretting or anxiety, which causes hormones to continue to be released that keep us awake. In order to fall asleep, a certain amount of relaxation is needed.
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