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Pillow Talk

Lack of restorative sleep can make you feel irritable, exhausted, and alone. Your family and friends could be frustrated with you as they don’t understand the impact of sleeplessness on your mood and behavior. The good news is there are help and treatment available for most sleep problems. Let's look at the different types.


Short-Term Insomnia.

  • having difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep due to stress

  • can also happen if you work shifts or have jet lag

  • inability to relax

  • waking often

Chronic Insomnia.

  • having difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep for at least one month. (This may look cyclical- several bad nights of sleep followed by a few good nights of sleep and back to several bad nights of sleep

  • feeling exhausted during the day


  • Poor sleep hygiene

  • Sleep-related breathing disorders

  • Medical conditions

  • Disrupted sleep-wake schedule

  • Hormonal changes

  • Limb movements during sleep

  • Circadian rhythm disorders

Common Symptoms of Insomnia

  • You can’t sleep even when you’re tired

  • You are exhausted when you wake up

  • You experience restless sleep, waking often

  • You suffer from headaches, tense muscles, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Common Treatment Types for Insomnia

  • Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications if the underlying cause is a mental health disorder

  • Short-term sleep medications -According to the American Association of Sleep Medicine, pills only increase slumber by 35 minutes, frequently lead to next-day drowsiness, and can create dependency. What’s more, once you stop taking them, you may find you sleep even worse than you had beforehand.

  • Herbs and Supplements- Camomile, Magnesium, Melatonin, CBD, Valerian Root

  • Cognitive behavior therapy- looking at underlying psychological issues that cause sleep disturbance

  • Hypnosis

  • Sleep restriction:

    • Keep a sleep diary or use a sleep tracking app for at least two weeks to notice habits and patterns as well as record average number of hours of nightly sleep.

    • Start by going to bed in time to achieve only the average number of hours that you calculated. For example, if you usually only sleep 6 hours, and you need to wake up at 7:00 am, then your initial bedtime should be 1:00 am. It is recommended, however, that you do not restrict the sleep time less than 5.5 hours even if that is more than your average sleep time.

    • Keep the same wake time every day of the week.

    • The time spent in bed should not vary according to the amount of sleep you got during the night either.

    • When you are sleeping relatively well through the night and starting to feel tired during the day, gradually increase the time spent in bed. Move back your bedtime by adding 15 minutes each week.

  • Stimulus control

    • Lie down only when you are sleepy.

    • Do not use your bed for anything except sleep; that is, do not read, watch television, eat, or worry in bed. Sexual activity is the only exception to this rule.

    • If you find yourself unable to fall asleep within 10 minutes, get up and go into another room. Stay up as long as you wish and then return to the bedroom to sleep.

    • Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning irrespective of how much sleep you got during the night. This will help your body acquire a consistent sleep rhythm.

    • Do not nap during the day

  • Relaxation techniques- Boring Guy, Sleep Meditation

  • Lifestyle changes

    • Avoid caffeine and alcohol

    • Take a warm bath or shower before bedtime

    • Do not work out within two hours of bedtime

    • Restrict screen time within 2 hours of bedtime

    • Make sure screen time content is not stimulating

    • Use a calming scent

    • Set the temperature- According to The Sleep Foundation, the best bedroom temperature for sleep is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep.

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious yet common sleep disorder. Your airway repeatedly becomes blocked, and you’ll stop breathing. When this occurs, you might make choking noises or will snore loudly. You wake up as your body and brain are oxygen deprived. You may find this happens once or twice a night. However, it can happen hundreds of times a night in severe cases.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

  • Wake up with a dry or a sore throat.

  • You snore loudly.

  • You wake up gasping or choking.

  • You feel extremely sleepy during the day.

  • You lack energy in general.

  • You suffer from headaches.

  • You feel tired and irritable.

Common Treatment Types for Sleep Apnea

  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure therapy). The machine uses mild air pressure and is attached to a mask or prongs that fit in your nose

  • Dental or oral appliance

  • Surgery

  • Losing weight

  • Positional therapy- wearing a device that keeps you sleeping on your side


Narcolepsy causes you to suddenly fall asleep at any time because you are unable to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

Common Symptoms of Narcolepsy

  • You fall asleep without warning.

  • You feel very drowsy during the day.

  • You suffer from sleep paralysis.

  • Cataplexy (temporary loss of muscle control that makes you feel weak or could make you collapse. Cataplexy is usually a response to emotions like anger or laughter).

  • Hallucinations as you transition from wake to sleep (hypnagogic) or from sleep to wake (hypnopompic).

  • Insomnia and disturbed nighttime sleep.

Common Treatment Types for Narcolepsy

Treatment is via scheduled naps and medication. To find out more, read Do I Have Narcolepsy? How Polysomnography and MSLT Help Us To Understand.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) presents as an uncontrollable urge or desire to maneuver your legs while you’re resting. You could also experience unpleasant aching, tingling, burning, and a feeling that something is crawling in your calves.

Common Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • Urges to move your legs.

  • Crawling sensation or ache in your legs.

  • Worse when you’re inactive.

  • Relief from your symptoms when you stretch, walk, or move.

Common Treatment Types for Restless Legs Syndrome

Medications and behavioral therapy can be used to treat RLS.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

When you have REM sleep behavior disorder, you act out your dreams while you sleep.

Common Symptoms of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

  • Move your limbs, shout, talk, hit, punch, scream, and more while sleeping

Common Treatment Types for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder



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