Do Sleepless Nights Mean Insomnia?

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With the increase of concerning news headlines along with changes to your daily routines, you may be experiencing difficulty winding down or falling asleep at night. Could it be insomnia?

Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has ample chance to do so. Unlike other brain functions, falling asleep requires coordination from multiple locations in the brain. Your brain’s sleepiness increases throughout the day, but at bedtime, unless the brain’s activating signals can be powered down, sleep signals can’t take over.

Treatments for insomnia are targeted to treat the cause and can include:

• Keeping a consistent sleep schedule by getting to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

• Avoiding naps during the day, even if you had trouble falling asleep the night before. This may be especially difficult during times when school is not in session.

• Getting regular exercise, especially early in the day, if possible

• Limiting exposure to things that can worsen insomnia, such as caffeine, screen time, and heavy meals close to bedtime.

• Minimizing time spent in or on your bed when you’re not specifically intending to sleep, such as watching TV, using your phone, or studying.

• Keeping your bedroom comfortable, dark, quiet, and cool. Use white or pink noise to mask environmental sounds, especially if people in the household have later bedtimes.

• Stopping the use of electronic devices one hour before bedtime. Not only do they emit blue light (which tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime), but often the content of what people are browsing can be emotional, stressful, or too stimulating.

• Don’t watch the clock. Remove any clocks from the bedroom, and try not to look at the time on a phone.

• Waiting to get into bed until you are sleepy. If you feel frustrated that you can’t get to sleep, get out of bed and do a calming, non-electronic activity.

• Using guided mediation or relaxation apps to help your brain settle down for sleep.

• Getting treatment for medical or psychiatric conditions that may be contributing to insomnia, such as anxiety, depression, or chronic pain.

If these treatments are not working, or if insomnia is chronic (persisting for a long time or constantly recurring) or related to another condition, further help may be needed, and you should consult with your healthcare provider. Getting a good night’s sleep helps you to stay healthy and well-rested!

As the only American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited sleep center in Northern Virginia, the specialists at Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ Pediatric & Adolescent Sleep Center evaluate and treat sleep-related problems specific to pediatrics and adolescents. Patients, ages 20 and younger, are seen by board-certified Pediatric Pulmonologists who are dedicated to fully treating a wide range of sleep disorders, including restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and more.

Learn more about Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ providers here. Connect with their Pediatric & Adolescent Sleep Center online or by calling (703) 226-2290.