Edward Norton’s character from “Fight Club” once said in a sleepy tone, “When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep… and you’re never really awake.” Despite the fallacies the big screen has, this line is one that strikes a chord with insomniacs and those who just can’t sleep.
According to an New York Times article titled, “Insomnia – Overview In-Depth Report,” insomnia can have many faces. Insomniacs, according to the article, can suffer from “difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early and poor quality (“non-restorative”) sleep.” Other forms of insomnia include circadian disorders, where people cannot sleep at conventional times, which often affect adolescents and the elderly, according to the article.
Insomnia also varies in terms of its duration. According to The New York Times article, there are three types of insomnia. The first, transient insomnia, only lasts a few days, while short-term insomnia lasts longer, but “no more than three weeks.” Finally, chronic insomnia is defined by the article as occurring “at least three nights per week for one month or longer.”
In fact, lack of sleep is a large problem among college students. According to an article on sleep by Brown University, college students are among the most sleep-deprived people in the U.S. The article said this may be due to the irregularity of college students’ sleeping habits.
“According to a 2001 study, only 11 percent of college students have good sleep quality, and 73 percent have occasional sleep problems,” the article said. “This same study found that 18 percent of college men and 30 percent of college women reported suffering from insomnia within the past three months, and over half reported feeling sleepy during the morning.”
There are many of reasons for the different types of insomnia, but temporary insomnia for college students (lasting for three days) could be specifically due to exams or stress during classes.
Now, many insomniacs and restless sleepers may already be aware of their situation and may perpetually wonder what they can do to alleviate their inability to sleep.
“I try to go to bed an hour before I really want to go to sleep,” Kevin Cole, junior in finance, said. “I spend the first hour tossing and turning but eventually get the rest I need. I also like to read occasionally before bed.”
One of the suggestions from the Brown article about how to deal with insomnia is to read. Relaxing could lead to drowsiness, so try reading or watching television. Brown also suggested that those who always have a lot on their mind should try making a list but not to obsess over it.
Knock Knock sells a clever “I Can’t Sleep Inner-Truth Journal” to start your insightful reflections for $13.42 on Amazon. Bath and Body Work’s Aromatherapy sleep collection is also a great investment to help create a relaxation routine before bed with scents like lavender chamomile, lavender vanilla, night time tea and black chamomile.
Kelsie Carpenter, junior in kinesiology said, “I haven’t had insomnia but I think exercise is the cure to everything, and with my knowledge from my classes, it has been proven to help people sleep better at night.”
Brown said that 20 to 30 minutes of exercise can be helpful to enter deep sleep; however, avoid exercising before bedtime because it will make you more alert.
“Studies show that individuals who exercise regularly are less likely to have sleep problems, so don’t forget to stay physically active,” Julie Gibbs, assistant director of the Lafene Student Health Center, said. “The Rec Center is included in your tuition, so use it when you can.”
Many turn to sleeping pills, but according to Brown University, most sleep aids contain antihistamines which can create drowsiness the next day. Additionally, these sleeping aids typically don’t create natural sleep and only work for a few days. Brown University suggests trying honey or carbohydrates before bedtime to help you relax. Calcium is a natural agent, as well. Lastly, herbal teas like peppermint, passion flower, lemon verbena and chamomile are also calming agents.
“Anyone who feels they are suffering from insomnia should see their health care provider,” Gibbs said. “Herbal products such as melatonin and other nutritional supplements might be beneficial; however they are not required to undergo the same rigorous testing as drugs do in order to meet governmental standards. Their long term impact, side effects and possible interactions with other drugs are often unknown. Again, I suggest talking with your provider first to get their recommendation.”
It is important to remember that sleep affects not only your health but ultimately your life. Gibbs said she also suggests living healthy.
“Stress plays a huge role on our bodies, and can sometimes interfere with sleep,” Gibbs said. “If you can effectively manage your stress, that would help you to sleep better.”