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Insomnia and sleep: How to sleep like a baby (for real!)

Published on March 16, 2021 at 14:44

For the vast majority of us, our daily lives are very busy. Between work, raising children, family life, our romantic relationships, outings, tasks and chores and the hoopla of everyday life, it often seems like there aren’t enough hours in a day, and finding balance is the key. At the same time, we believe that everything is important and that we mustn’t forget to care for ourselves, eat well, and stay active. But in order to do everything, you need to reenergize yourself through good sleep—sometimes a little and often a lot.

However, if there’s one thing that gets turned upside down when you become a parent or when you’re going through stressful or demanding times, it’s sleep. And we’re talking here about quality sleep, the kind that is deep and uninterrupted. Insomnia is a grey cloud that can cause much more than dark circles around our eyes. In fact, it’s a serious condition that harms those who are affected with it more than we’d think. Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parent, is addressing this subject here to help you gain a better understanding of it all…without yawning!

But what is insomnia, exactly?

According to Fondation sommeil, "We talk about insomnia either when we have difficulty falling asleep at bedtime (initial insomnia), when we wake up frequently during the night or for prolonged periods, or when we wake up prematurely in the morning and are then unable to go back to sleep. A person may suffer from a combination of these symptoms, or the symptoms may change over time.” 1

Insomnia can also be simply difficulty in falling or staying asleep. Whether it lasts for a short period, a longer period or an entire night, it’s all insomnia.

Causes of insomnia

Insomnia has different causes or origins. It can be psychological, due to anxiety, stress or depression; it can be physiological as a result of medication or our general lifestyle; it can be environmental—from sounds, noises, light, or it can be pathological, a product of genetics or from pain.

Who is affected by insomnia?

About 25% of people suffer from insomnia2 and it doesn’t target any one particular type of person. However, anyone who is affected by external factors may have a greater risk of suffering from it.

An interesting fact is that women are more likely to be inconvenienced by it. Hormonal changes are partly responsible…yes, hormones again! People experiencing more stress or who suppress their emotions are also more affected. Major events such as pregnancy, childbirth, moving, or a job loss are some examples of events that can lead to periods of insomnia. It can also be said that new parents, mainly new mothers, are more at risk. If one thing is for certain, it’s that the expression “sleeping like a baby” isn’t applicable to parents!

What are the solutions?

Insomnia is synonymous with sleep because the two are strongly linked. Here are a few suggestions to help you sleep better:

Establish a sleep routine

Try to maintain a regular schedule of when you go to bed and when you wake up. Establishing a sleep routine for your children is also essential to help them understand and to adapt to when it’s time to go to bed.

Avoid taking long naps

Resist the temptation to take long naps in broad daylight in order not to disrupt your cycle. Ideally, experts agree that a nap should last between 20 and 60 minutes.Résistez à la tentation de faire une trop longue sieste en plein jour afin de ne pas dérégler votre cycle. Idéalement, les spécialistes s’entendent pour dire qu’une sieste devrait durer entre 20 et 60 minutes. 

Stay active

Exercise is always a great way to fight insomnia. Strive to be active for at least 3 20-minute periods per week. Be sure to allow a few hours between physical activity and your bedtime so as not to stimulate your body before sleeping.

Arrange or rearrange your bedroom

reduce ways for exterior light and noise to get inside. Make sure you are comfortable in your bed and in your bedding. If babies or young children are changing beds, it can upset their sleep. To help you if you are at this stage, read this (french only).2

Ask yourself questions 

What might disturb your sleep or that of your children?

Change the temperature in your room

By raising or lowering the temperature in your room, you can find a more comfortable balance. This is easy to try!

Drink herbal tea or hot milk before bed

Avoid coffee, tea or alcohol before going to sleep.

Moderate your appetite in the evening

If you’re a big eater, try to eat more lightly in the evening. Digestion and sleep don't mix. Instead, opt for a light snack.

Develop other interests

Whether it's sports, social or cultural activities, it's a good choice to try new things, even more so if you're retired. It's a great way to get used to a new pace of life. 

Create a relaxing atmosphere

You can use a little lavender or eucalyptus aroma, practice breathing or meditation, it can all be very useful.

Avoid too much screen time

This includes TVs, cell phones, computers, tablets; screens are everywhere. According to sexologist and psychotherapist Valérie Leblanc, "Avoid using electronic devices in the bedroom. To sleep well, it’s best to maintain an environment that evokes only rest and relaxation."4

As with any problem, there are solutions, but there is also no miracle cure. You have to try, attempt, adapt, evaluate and above all, not get discouraged. If necessary, consult a healthcare professional who can discuss sleep issues with you. Your lifestyle is important and your sleep is just as important.

Sources: French only

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