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6 Unhealthy Habits Putting You at Risk of Insomnia

Insomnia, the prolonged difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, is a widespread sleep disorder affecting men and women alike. While several factors contribute to insomnia, some unhealthy habits can significantly increase the risk.

In this article, we will explore six habits that may sabotage your sleep and discuss how they can impact your overall well-being.

Irregular sleep schedule

Irregular sleep patterns can significantly increase the risk of insomnia by disrupting the body's natural sleep-wake cycle and the delicate balance of various physiological processes. 

The circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock, regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Irregular sleep patterns due to staying up late or erratic bedtimes can disrupt this natural rhythm. The body thrives on routine, and irregular sleep confuses the internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep when needed.

Sleep tip: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule for your body to regulate its internal clock.

Excessive napping

Excessive napping, mainly when done at inappropriate times or for extended durations, disrupts the regular sleep-wake cycle and increases the risk of insomnia. 

Sleep homeostasis refers to the body's natural drive for sleep, which accumulates during wakefulness and dissipates during sleep. Excessive napping can disrupt this delicate balance, resulting in difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep at night,contributing to insomnia.

Sleep tip: Consider limiting daytime naps to improve your chances of a restful night. We recommend napping for no more than 90 minutes at a time, and avoid napping after 3pm.

Caffeine and stimulant consumption

Consuming caffeine and stimulants close to bedtime can impact sleep quality. Caffeine and stimulants affect the central nervous system, altering the production of sleep-regulating hormones and disrupting the normal sleep-wake cycle.

They block adenosine receptors, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. By blocking adenosine, these substances increase alertness and reduce the natural drive for sleep.

Sleep tip: Avoid caffeine to improve your sleep hygiene, especially in the late afternoon and evening.

Electronic devices before bed

People have become used to using electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, before bedtime. However, these devices emit blue light, making restful sleep challenging.

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops cast blue light that suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Reduced melatonin levels make it more challenging for individuals to feel sleepy and initiate the sleep process.

Sleep tip: Refrain from using electronic devices past your bedtime. Muting notifications can also ensure your sleep is uninterrupted throughout the night. If you must use your phone at night, dim the brightness on your screen and turn on a soft lamp - using your phone in a pitch black room can strain your eyes.

Poor sleep environment

The sleep environment plays a part in facilitating a peaceful and rejuvenating night's sleep. 

Hard mattresses or pillows, for example, can be physically uncomfortable and make it difficult to settle into a cosy sleeping position. Discomfort can cause restlessness, frequent tossing and turning, and the inability to maintain a continuous sleep state.

Noise and poorly dimmed rooms may also make it challenging for individuals to achieve optimal sleep.

Sleep tip: Ensure that your sleep space is conducive to relaxation by keeping the room dark and investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Stress and anxiety

Persistent stress and anxiety are significant contributors to insomnia. They activate the body's "fight or flight" response, leading to a state of hyperarousal. This heightened arousal can make it challenging for individuals to relax and wind down, hindering the transition from wakefulness to sleep.

Sleep tip: Developing stress management strategies, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can be instrumental in promoting better sleep.

Symptoms of insomnia

The symptoms of insomnia can vary in severity and duration. Here are the common symptoms associated with insomnia.

  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Difficulty staying asleep 
  • Early morning awakening
  • Non-restorative sleep: waking up feeling unrefreshed, tired, and not fully rested.
  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Irritability and mood disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating and memory impairment
  • Tension headaches
  • Worrying about sleep

A specific event or stressor may trigger acute insomnia, while chronic insomnia lasts for an extended period, typically three nights per week for at least three months.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent symptoms of insomnia that affect their daily life, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment.

Insomnia treatment in Singapore

Identifying unhealthy habits and protecting yourself against insomnia is vital for improving your sleep and overall well-being. If you struggle with insomnia, seek professional treatment. 

Lifestyle Medical Clinic offers comprehensive treatment plans for sleep disorders such as insomnia. Insomnia treatment may involve lifestyle modifications, cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), or, in some cases, medication. 

Lifestyle Medical Clinic addresses the root causes of insomnia, providing the tools and support needed to achieve restorative sleep. Schedule a consultation for sleep disorder treatment.

Frequently asked questions

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