4 Myths About Living With Insomnia

Insomnia is something most people have dealt with at one point or another. In fact, the American Sleep Association says that 50 to 70 million American adults have some kind of sleep disorder.1

That said, insomnia has proven to be the most commonly reported sleep disorder. Of those with insomnia, 30 percent have short-term insomnia, while only 10 percent report chronic insomnia.1

Even though insomnia is a widely dealt with condition, there are a lot of myths surrounding insomnia. So let’s set the record straight.

Myth: There are no long term effects of insomnia

Myth: Insomnia is not being able to sleep occasionally and has no long-term repercussions on your health.

FALSE – Insomnia is NOT just the inability to fall asleep. It is also trouble staying asleep, waking too early, or lack of good quality sleep. Insomnia can be something some deal with from time to time. Or a long-term chronic condition.

Insomnia is divided into 2 differing categories:

  • Acute insomnia only lasts a few days or maybe a few weeks. Acute insomnia could be brought on by stress, big events/projects, or some kind of trauma.
  • Chronic insomnia is very much the same as acute insomnia, but instead of being sporadic, it lasts for at least 1 month. It is often a secondary problem for many with chronic insomnia due to a pre-existing medical condition, ongoing high-stress levels, or even starting a new medication.

Women who have insomnia have been found to be at a higher risk for developing more long-term health issues than men.2 Women are at a higher risk of developing mood swings, obesity, heart problems, and even strokes. While both men and women who have insomnia are at an overall higher risk of diabetes, falls, and accidents.2

Myth: Insomnia is just in your head

Myth: Insomnia is ALL IN YOUR HEAD, just deal with it.

FALSE - Insomnia is a well-documented, researched condition that is a fully recognized medical condition that can be treated.

Let’s be honest – insomnia is extremely real for all of us who live with it. But most people don’t know that there are actual symptoms of insomnia beyond lack of sleep.

A person with insomnia can display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Feeling unrested during the day
  • Frequent nighttime awakenings
  • Waking early (prior to your alarm going off)
  • Low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Mood changes

Myth: Using electronics before bed is helpful

Myth: Watching TV or playing on your phone before bed can help you fall asleep

FALSE - Electronic devices can actually make it harder for your mind to shut off to allow you to go to sleep.

When our whole lives are on our phones and computer, it is easy to take the phone to bed so you can finish the last email or watch this last video. If you do that, you are definitely not alone. A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that roughly 4 in 10 Americans take their phones to bed to use while trying to fall asleep.3

But when we take our devices to bed, they can interfere with our sleep. The use of devices can suppress the production of the hormone melatonin, which our bodies release nightly to help us feel sleepy and tired.4

Myth: Naps offset lost sleep

Myth: Napping helps to offset the sleep lost due to insomnia

FALSE - Napping can actually make it harder to sleep at night.

Depending on the time of day that you nap, it could end up being more detrimental than beneficial. If naps occur too late in the day, they could disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) says that we should avoid taking naps in the late afternoon or early evening hours. Taking a nap after 3:00 PM should just not be done.5,6

The NIA make the following recommendations to improve overall sleep:5

  • No naps after 3:00 PM.
  • Go to bed around the same time every night.
  • Set an alarm to wake up at the same time every day of the week.
  • Develop and maintain a nighttime routine (shower, wash face, brush teeth, reading, etc).
  • Avoid using screens in the area where you sleep.
  • Avoid anything with caffeine after lunch.
  • Use a true alarm clock to wake up, not your cell phone.
  • Avoid eating late in the evening.

Do any of these myths sound familiar? Have you ever found yourself debunking a myth about insomnia? Share with us in the comments below!

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