Normal sleep is important for your health. Your body and mind regularly need several hours of sleep to relax and recover. Waking up occasionally is normal and not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep. If you occasionally get little sleep, this is not a problem, but if you do not feel fit enough, sleep less than 6 hours or have trouble falling asleep, you may have insomnia.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is said to occur if you sleep poorly more than twice a week and cannot function sufficiently during the day. Reasons for insomnia include staying awake for a long time, difficulty falling asleep and waking up too often or too early.
How do I recognize insomnia?
During the day you are tired, sleepy, lacking energy and perhaps also irritable. You cannot concentrate well and your so-called fuse is shorter. Your reaction time is reduced, which can be dangerous while driving and operating machines.
Can I do something about it myself?
Insomnia can have several causes, such as tension, worries, physical or psychological complaints. If this is one of the causes, you can discuss with your doctor what the options are to work towards a solution. In consultation, it can also be determined whether there is a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy or restless legs.
It may also be that the cause lies in habits, such as irregular sleeping times, smoking, jet lag, going to bed too early, drinking a lot of caffeine, eating too late, looking at screens too late or exercising too much before going to sleep. You can check these habits yourself and see if they also bother you. Many people have these habits and do not immediately cause sleeping problems. Of course it is wise to rule this out before you go to the doctor to investigate further.
In addition to the above, you can also start keeping a sleep diary. Here you write down your sleeping habits, such as what time you go to bed, how long it takes to fall asleep, how often you wake up, thoughts, etc. A doctor may be able to find abnormalities here that you have not noticed.
Can the pharmacist do anything for me?
Melatonin tablets are available from the pharmacist without a prescription. This is a homeopathic medicine that helps shift your day and night rhythm and is not a sleeping aid. It can sometimes work to take 2 to 3 mg of melatonin for a few weeks to support your rhythm. This can also help with jet lag.
If this does not help enough, sleeping medication can be prescribed in consultation with the doctor, but these have many disadvantages. Sleeping pills work temporarily, are addictive and often have side effects. It is wise to first exhaust other options before switching to sleep medication. Insomnia is annoying and can have a major impact on your daily life, but tackling the cause is more important than solving the effect with medication.
Research has shown that valerian does not help against insomnia and can only help calm down. This can have a positive effect on your sleep.