Insomnia, a disorder characterised by the inability to fall or stay asleep, affects millions worldwide. For some, it can become a chronic condition that significantly impacts their daily lives.
According to a study, approximately one in three Malaysians suffers from symptoms of insomnia. These manifest in different ways, including:
- difficulty falling asleep;
- waking up frequently during the night;
- waking up too early in the morning; and/or
- feeling tired and unrefreshed after sleep.
Despite its prevalence, insomnia is one of the most misunderstood disorders. Pertinently, people should understand the difference between insomnia and poor sleep.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder, while poor sleep may just be a symptom of underlying mental and physical health problems. A comprehensive physical exam and an overnight sleep test could be all that stands between you and the rest you need.
This is why it’s important not to let common myths about insomnia keep you up at night. Here are five of the most prominent and problematic sleep myths surrounding insomnia.
1. How long you sleep is all that matters
Many people with insomnia are fixated on the idea of getting eight hours of sleep, which can create additional stress and hinder their ability to nod off.
The ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, and it’s not just about the quantity of sleep but also the quality.
Good sleep quality means having uninterrupted and continuous slumber. By improving this, you help reduce stress and anxiety, which are significant contributors to insomnia.
It’s important to prioritise healthy bedtime habits and find what works best for you to ensure you get the quality and quantity of sleep your body needs.
2. Alcohol can help
The idea that alcohol can aid sleep is a popular misconception. While alcohol may induce drowsiness and help you fall asleep, it can ultimately disrupt the quality of rest.
Consuming alcohol before bedtime can make it less likely that you will experience deep, restful sleep, and more likely that you will wake up frequently during the night.
This, in turn, can result in a groggy feeling the next day, exacerbating the cycle of insomnia.
3. There’s nothing you can do about it
Insomnia can be a frustrating and disruptive medical condition that affects an individual’s ability to fall or stay asleep. That said, the idea that nothing can be done to address it is simply untrue.
There are many evidence-based treatments, including prescription medicine, that can help to alleviate insomnia symptoms and improve sleep quality.
For instance, a neuropeptide called orexin plays a major role in regulating wakefulness and modulating the sleep-wake cycle. As such, a drug known as a “dual orexin receptor antagonist” can be a potential treatment option that works by blocking orexin in the brain.
4. Insomnia is a normal part of ageing
Many people believe that insomnia is an inevitable aspect of growing older. While it’s true that sleep patterns can change as we age, insomnia is not an inherent part of the ageing process.
It is, therefore, crucial to address sleep problems, especially in older adults, as they can have serious consequences on health and quality of life, including poor work performance, increased risk of accidents, and even compromised mental and physical wellbeing.
While it’s possible to learn to cope with less sleep, it’s impossible to train your body to require less sleep.
5. All treatments work the same
This is neither true nor accurate. While some treatments may share certain similarities, there are significant differences between various classes of treatments used to manage insomnia.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that different individuals may respond differently to various treatments; there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and not all treatments work equally well for everyone.
If you suspect you may have insomnia, seek help from a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan. Take control of your sleep today and start enjoying the benefits of a good night’s rest!