One of the most common sleep disorders people suffer from is insomnia, characterized by constant difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, or quality. The diagnosis is based on two main elements: daytime impairment resulted from poor sleep and sleep difficulties regardless of proper opportunities for normal sleep.
Chronic vs Short-Term Insomnia
Briefly put, based on the frequency and duration of the insomnia symptoms patients have, they can be diagnosed with either chronic or short-term insomnia. If patients experience insomnia symptoms at least three times a week for three consecutive months, they are diagnosed with chronic insomnia. On the other hand, if the symptoms occur less frequently for less than three months, they are diagnosed with short term-insomnia.
Sleep-Onset vs Sleep Maintenance Insomnia
Although this sleep disorder can manifest in several ways, the diagnoses fall under one of the following two categories including sleep-onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia.
The first type, sleep-onset insomnia, is characterized by difficulties falling asleep and usually occurs to people having a hard time relaxing and to those who have their circadian rhythm out of sync as a result of many factors like doing shift work or jet lag.
Next, sleep maintenance insomnia is characterized by difficulties staying asleep after starting to nod off. This type of insomnia is commonly diagnosed in elderly people and those who drink alcohol or caffeine or consume tobacco before going to bed.
However, other sleep conditions like periodic limb movement disorder or sleep apnea can also be considered as a risk factor for sleep maintenance insomnia. Hence, if you suffer from any of these two, ensure you discuss sleep maintenance insomnia with your doctor.
Insomnia in Parenthood
Now that you know the basics regarding this sleep disorder, let’s move on to insomnia in parenthood. According to a poll, a whopping 74% of stay-at-home moms reported experiencing insomnia symptoms. Another research showed that parents are far more likely to drive drowsy when compared to people without kids which means that sleep deprivation can also pose a safety risk.
The truth is, looking after kids, especially babies or toddlers, and managing work and other tasks at the same time requires tons of energy and effort. Indeed, having to multitask and balance complicated schedules and various sets of needs daily usually leads to developing insomnia.
How Can Parents Improve Sleep?
After having a day full of incessant or frantic activity, most parents find it hard to relax and disconnect from the never-ending to-do lists and family matters. Luckily, several ways can help them improve sleep quality and quantity including practicing relaxation techniques and creating a peaceful sleep environment.
That said, ensure the room you sleep in is uncluttered and peaceful and that your mattress, pillows, and bedding are comfortable. Then, avoid using electronic gadgets at least for two hours before going to bed, and, if possible, leave them in another room when going to sleep.
Yet, if you still have difficulties falling asleep, try doing some relaxation exercises. Even though they may not be effective when done for the first time, in the long run, they have proven to be extremely helpful. Hence, include relaxation exercises in your bedtime routine.
The bottom line, while sleep difficulties and insomnia are considered to be inherent characteristics of parenthood, poor sleep shouldn’t be your way of life. Try to follow the above-mentioned tips and if symptoms persist ensure you seek professional insomnia treatment options.