Mental Space: Insomnia
As college students, we are prone to symptoms of insomnia. This can be due to many factors: stress, too much screen time, poor sleep hygiene. And, once in a while, it’s okay to experience a sleepless night. But when it becomes chronic, it becomes a serious issue.
Insomnia can be caused by several factors, but it can also be a symptom of other mental illnesses – like depression or anxiety. A commonly known definition of insomnia is trouble falling asleep, but it can also be trouble staying asleep throughout the night. It is actually a disorder if you meet the criteria of not being able to fall asleep, trouble staying asleep or waking up in the early hours of the morning for three or more days a week for at least three months.
As someone with chronic insomnia, I fail to understand how some people can fall asleep within minutes of laying down. My body is exhausted all day every day, but I can’t get my brain to quiet itself at night. This is an issue that affects my academics, as I can’t fall asleep until well after midnight and then don’t wake up until around noon. Not only are my academics affected, but my work schedule gets messed up, as does my medication schedule.
To help treat my insomnia, I am on a sedative that I take around the same time every night, but I still can’t fall asleep until after midnight and still have trouble waking up. Another option, which does help at times, is guided meditation. The calming voice of a meditation instructor with quiet background noise helps me to focus on something other than my thoughts. I also listen to “Weightless” by Marconi Union some nights.
To help prevent insomnia without medication, I would suggest that you put away your phone, turn off your computer and TV and try to relax for an hour before you actually go to bed. I can’t guarantee that this will work 100% of the time, but it helps create better sleep hygiene, which will help with preventing insomnia.
There are medications that can contribute to insomnia, such as stimulants taken for ADHD or certain antidepressants. If you are taking any medications, I suggest thoroughly reading through the information that you get with your medication to see if sleeplessness is a side effect so that you can schedule your time accordingly. Now, I’m not saying don’t take the medication as prescribed, but I wouldn’t suggest taking a stimulant at 8 PM either.