Many of us (including myself) have suffered bouts of insomnia here and there, but imagine that you have not gotten more than three hours of sleep a night for the last year. Or even two years. How do you think that would effect you?
The effects of insomnia are vast, including depression, irritability, stress, and it can even trigger substance abuse. Lack of adequate sleep can also suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. You’ll begin to think less clearly and lose concentration, which can impact your work performance. In addition, chronic or acute insomnia can affect your personal relationships.
Think about it: you’re exhausted, frustrated, stressed, and frankly, just annoyed that you can’t sleep. The last thing you want to do is be intimate with your partner, and you’re becoming more sensitive to their tone and words. Even if your spouse has the best of intentions, the littlest disagreement can send you over the edge. Your partner may begin keeping their distance from you — after all, walking on eggshells around you is hardly fun. Over time, you grow farther apart from one another.
But wait — there is another way! It doesn’t have to come to this. Here are some things you should try if you have gone more than a few nights without good sleep (at least 7-8 hours).
- See your doctor. You will want to rule out any underlying medical issues
- Instill good sleep hygiene
- Think about what may be causing the insomnia. Are you stressed over anything in particular? Have too much going through your mind right before bed? If you can figure out if there are any psychological causes, you can begin to work through those.
- Work with a therapist on behavioral therapy to treat the insomnia. This may include relaxation techniques, stimulus control therapy, and/or cognitive therapy.
- Try some over the counter sleep aids — but only short term. If you have to take it for longer than 5-7 days, see your doctor immediately.
- There are several medications used to treat insomnia such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. Talk to your doctor if you feel this may be a good option for you.
- If your insomnia has already impacted your relationship, consider marriage counseling to work through those issues.