Tips for Managing Insomnia

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Do you have insomnia? It is estimated that between 10% and 20% of the Singapore population experience insomnia. This can be in the form of difficulty falling asleep, remaining asleep, or waking up too early.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia affects our daily lives and can have the following symptoms:

  • Still feeling tired after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Poor concentration and focus
  • Uncoordinated in movements, actions, or speech
  • An increase in errors or accidents
  • Tension headaches
  • Difficulties in socializing
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

It has also been found that long-term disrupted sleep has a strong correlationto diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia can have many causes, such as:

  • Anxiety, stress or excitement
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Mental conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Night shifts
  • Travelling across time zones
  • Sleep apnea
  • Age
  • Poor circulation to the brain
  • Bodily pain or other health conditions affecting sleep
  • Over-drinking
  • Substance abuse
  • Sub-par health according to TCM (e.g. “heaty” physiques with symptoms such as mouth ulcers, or “cold” physiques with symptoms such as loose bowels, sleep deprived due to dreams, and anemia).

Tips for managing insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, here are some tips:

  1. Adopt a regular sleeping habit
  2. Keep the bedroom dark, cool and quiet
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Do some light reading to wind down
  5. Listen to soothing music
  6. Gentle stretching (or yoga)
  7. Deep breathing
  8. Meditation
  9. Wearing socks to sleep
  10. Drink a cup of warm honey or milk before sleep
  11. Drink tea – “Heaty” physiques may opt for chrysanthemum flower tea, while “cold” physiques may opt for dried logn with red date tea.

Avoidthe following

  1. Naps during the afternoons or early morning
  2. Coffee, tea and certain cola drinks from mid-day onwards
  3. Cigarette smoking in the evenings
  4. Working, eating or engaging in any mentally stimulating activity at night (e.g. playing games on computers and smartphones)
  5. Regular consumption of alcohol and/or sleeping tablets
  6. Heavy meals prior to bedtime

(by Tan Shiau Tse, TCM Physician)