Published: 06/25/2015 - Updated: 11/11/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Do you fall asleep immediately but wake up at 3 in the morning? Is it hard for you to go back to sleep at that time? This type of insomnia affects a lot of people, that get home from work so tired that they immediately fall asleep, but at 3 or 4 in the morning, they wake up and can’t go back to sleep.
Sleeping well is a basic keep for keeping the body young and healthy. During sleep, tissues are repaired, the body cleanses itself, the nervous system rests and regenerates itself, the body’s organs find balance in their functions, etc. If you feel like you’re not sleeping well, your body could be suffering from a special wear, and its time for find out what is preventing you from getting to sleep. You might not notice it at first, and you could feel like you can continue without sleeping well, but over time, these nights of bad sleep will accumulate. This causes a series of wear and tear that are harmful for the body, like:
- Reduced cognitive efficacy
- Wear and tear on cardiovascular functions
- Irritability in the nervous system (the individual may feel more sensitive, irritably, emotional, angry, anxious, etc.)
- Poor immune system and endocrine functioning, which causes one to be more likely to become ill, catching disease, etc.
Individuals that don’t sleep well may believe that they’ve somehow learned to cope with it, and that they can continue to execute their work without sleeping. But without realizing it, their body suffers from it, and they will experience reduced efficiency in their daily tasks.
Causes of Insomnia
This 3 am insomnia could be caused by the following:
- Being overly-saturated in daily tasks
- Excessive stress from things that need to be resolved
- Emotions that are not understood and that are repressed
- Anxiety or rear regarding situations that worry you
- A diet deficient in certain minerals
- Excessive physical activities
What to do if you have restless sleep
If you suffer from this type of insomnia, we recommend the following:
- During the day, try to watch yourself and try to slowly learn not to become too saturated in your activities. Trust in yourself more, and take at least a short break to do something fun for yourself.
- Throughout the day, try to eat a balanced diet. Lack of minerals can affect the nervous system, which is why it is important that you include fresh vegetable juices, citrus juices in the morning, and complementary foods, like chia seeds, linseed, oatmeal, fish, sunflower seeds, sesame, walnuts, and almond milk rather than cow’s milk.
- Do not overexert yourself with physical activity. Follow an appropriate routine according to your own performance, and make sure you are eating the necessary nutrients.
- Avoid white sugar in any form. This is irritating for the nervous system. Avoid soft drinks, pastries and flavored sweets, refined or processed foods, and always use the least amount of sugar as possible. If you are going to sweeten something, it’s best to use honey, agave nectar, brown sugar or stevia (not splenda). Do not use diet sugar because this is even worse for the body. It is very important that children avoid sugar because this irritates their bodies, and robs the body of minerals and nutrients.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re no longer sleepy, we recommend gently breathing, placing your hand on your abdomen and try to guide your breathing. Feel your abdomen moving in with your hand. Concentrating on your breathing is one of the most effect resources for relaxing the body and going back to sleep.
- If there are a lot of thoughts swimming around your head and you can’t stop them, simply try to observe them. Do not resist thinking, simply watch them. If you notice that you’re worried about something, it could be that throughout the day you haven’t paid attention, or haven’t found a solution to something. In this case, use the recommended breathing and talk to yourself, saying things like “Everything will get worked out perfectly”, “Tomorrow, I will find a good solution for this”, “My body is relaxed and at peace with my life, because I trust that everything will end well”, etc. And throughout the day, try to focus of what you feel to be a problem. Remember that all problems are actually just struggles that teach us to grow, to trust more in ourselves, and to become more creative. It teaches us to take more risks for what we truly love.
- If you truly cannot get back to sleep, don’t fight it on the pillow. Get up and walk a bit, read a book that you like and drink a bit of orange blossom tea, or passionflower, mint or chamomile tea, which are relaxing. This will undoubtedly make you sleepy once again, and soon you’ll be able to go back to sleep.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018. Sleep Disorders: In Depth
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018. Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches
- Medlineplus, 2018. Insomnio.
- Zhou, E. S., Gardiner, P., & Bertisch, S. M. (2017). Integrative Medicine for Insomnia. The Medical Clinics of North America, 101(5), 865–879.
- Burman, D. (2017). Sleep Disorders: Insomnia. FP Essentials, 460, 22–28.
- Zee, P. C., & Turek, F. W. (2006, September). Sleep and health: Everywhere and in both directions. Archives of Internal Medicine. United States.
- Luyster, F. S., Strollo, P. J. J., Zee, P. C., & Walsh, J. K. (2012). Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep, 35(6), 727–734.
- National Institutes of Health. NIH state-of-thescience conference statement: manifestations and management of chronic insomnia in adults. NIH Consensus and State-of-the-Science Statements 2005; 22(2): 15-16.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 11/11/2018
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