Have you ever stayed up all night just to stare at the ceiling? With fears of the future, hopes of a better tomorrow and whirlwind thoughts racing through the mind, it can be difficult to catch enough z’s, especially as a college student.
Most of us have probably experienced our fair share of sleepless nights, but if it has become a night-time routine, it might be something more serious.
Casey Stanke, a junior business administration major, has had difficulty sleeping for several years.
“I am normally tired before bed, but when I go to lay down for the night, I can’t sleep,” Stanke said. “It’s the same thing every night.”
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep.
“Throughout the night I wake up a lot and usually don’t feel very rested the next day,” Stanke said.
The sleep disorder may be a result of other health conditions such as asthma or depression, but it also may be a result of something as simple as too much light or noise in your sleep environment.
The effects of insomnia can be either short or long-term, can come and go with periods of time with no sleep problems, or just last one night. It is considered to be chronic when the insomnia continues at least three nights a week for over one month.
Insomnia can be caused by many things, including significant stress, pain or discomfort at night, illness, some medications, depression or anxiety, a switch in sleep schedules, or environmental factors, like noise and light.
“I think the reasoning behind why I have difficulty sleeping is all the stress that school brings. Especially now with it being the final stretch towards finals,” Stanke said. “I usually get the best sleep on nights that I don’t have anything going on that stresses me out, but I honestly can’t remember the last good night of sleep I got.”
In the midst of the thought-tornado wiping through your mind at night, good sleep habits can help you get a good night’s sleep and beat insomnia.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine will only stimulate those thoughts and alcohol may cause waking throughout the night.
• Make your bedroom comfortable by making sure it is dark, quiet and a good temperature. Living with roommates can make this difficult, so try using a sleeping mask to keep out the light and earplugs or a fan to block out the excess noise.
• Follow a routine before bed to cue drowsiness, such as reading a book or listening to music.
• Lists work wonders. If you are a worrier, make to-do lists before you go to bed to avoid focusing on those worries overnight.
For more serious cases of insomnia, it is best to contact your health care provider to treat any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing the insomnia.
Emma St. Aubin