Say Goodnight To Insomnia
After a night of tossing and turn, you finally drift slowly into dreamland… just to wake up abruptly to
the sound of your alarm. Sounds familiar? This is a common problem many are experiencing today -
Signs of insomnia
Not sure if you are suffering from insomnia? Check if you have the following symptoms.
- Having difficulty falling asleep
- Having restless sleep or difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up frequently or early in the morning and having difficulty falling back to sleep
- Feeling tired, anxious, depressed or irritable
- Being unable to concentrate, remember things or make decisions
Types of insomnia
There are mainly three types of insomnia – transient, short-term and chronic.
Transient insomnia generally lasts less than a week, while short-term insomnia lasts less than 3
weeks. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, lasts 3 or more weeks.
Unlike transient and short-term insomnia, chronic insomnia is usually related to medical conditions,
medication or a combination of factors.
Setting yourself free from insomnia is not as tough as you think. Simply identify and address the
underlying causes of your insomnia, and re-establish a normal sleep cycle.
Both non-prescription and prescription medicines are available for the treatment of insomnia.
However, you should always consider non-prescription medication or natural sleeping aids before
turning to medicines prescribed to you.
Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, may be recommended by your pharmacist to help you deal
with occasional sleep difficulties. This medication is suitable for short-term use only (up to 14 days
A common type of prescription medicine for sleeping problems is sleeping pills. Sleeping pills and
other medicines that are prescribed to you may be habit-forming and is not recommended for long-
Natural sleeping aids
Traditional herbs like valerian, lavender, passionflower, hops, German chamomile and lemon balm
may be useful when treating insomnia. Certain dietary supplements such as melatonin and 5-
hydroxytrytophan (5-HTP) have also been said to help manage insomnia.
However, it is important to note that results are variable with different people as natural aids are
considered complementary medication. Do consult your pharmacist before buying if you are taking
other medications or if you have any medical conditions.
Tips for a good night's sleep
Prevention is better than cure – how true, especially for insomnia! You can avoid tossing and turning
the entire night by cultivating good sleep hygiene.
- Use your bed solely for sleeping or intimacy
- Establish a regular sleep cycle and wake up at about the same time daily
- Ensure the bedroom is comfortable to sleep in
- It should have sufficient ventilation and should not be too bright
- Engage in relaxing activities (e.g. listening to gentle music) before bedtime
- Exercise regularly but avoid exercising 2 to 4 hours before bedtime
- Avoid having heavy meals 2 hours before sleeping
- Avoid taking naps or limit the duration of naps during the day
- Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine in the evening
- Do not force yourself to fall asleep if you are unable to do so
- Instead, engage in some relaxing activities until you feel sleepy
- Do not watch the clock at night when you’re trying to sleep
When to consult a doctor
It may be time to visit your family doctor if you experience the following symptoms.
- Waking up frequently at night
- Not being able to fall asleep again after waking up too early in the morning
- Having symptoms of insomnia that last for more than a month
- Having disturbed sleep that occurs consecutively for several days
- Having disturbed sleep that occurs due to other medical conditions
- Snoring excessively at night