Terminal insomnia is a condition where you can fall asleep easily when going to bed, but find yourself waking up much earlier than you want and are unable to fall back asleep. A precise terminal insomnia definition would be when early awakening occurs for three nights or more, waking up more than 30 minutes too early. Terminal insomnia is also sometimes referred to as “end of night” insomnia.
It is important to note that this condition also applies to those who wake up much earlier than they intended, regardless if you are using this extra time to simply lay in bed rather than getting up.
What causes terminal insomnia?
Generally, insomnia is experiencing a sense of sleeplessness, with it being very difficult to initiate falling asleep from the beginning. Terminal insomnia patients do not have this problem. Instead, their sleep pattern is disturbed but they can fall asleep. Their brains think they have received an adequate amount of sleep required and wake them up much earlier than normal.
There are several reasons why a person may suffer from terminal insomnia, with psychological factors playing an important role. The following are some examples:
- Room temperature fluctuations
- Sensitivity to noise
- Perennial digestive problems
- Pain due to injury
- Early morning hypoglycemia
- Recurring dreams
- Emotional causes
What are the treatment options for terminal insomnia?
Terminal insomnia treatment comes from first recognizing you have a disturbed sleep pattern. It is important to determine the number of hours you require to sleep to be considered a full night’s rest. While the common notation is that six to eight hours of sleep is the average, it is important to keep in mind that this is simply an average approximation.
Those who do not get restful sleep often feel cranky, fatigued, and unable to normally go about their day without feeling extreme feelings of tiredness.
A way to help assess whether you suffer from terminal insomnia is to simply keep track of your sleeping patterns by writing down the time you go to bed and the time you wake up. It may also be helpful to note any thoughts you have upon waking up as well as any physical symptoms such as pain or a headache.
After you have evaluated your own personal circumstance and concluded that you suffer from terminal insomnia, the following may help:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule: Go to bed at the same time every day
- Maintain a daily bedtime routine: This helps to signal your body that now is the time to prepare for sleep. This includes avoiding loud noises and bright screens to not overstimulate the mind.
- Relaxation techniques: Doing this before bed helps combat stress and resets the body’s circadian rhythm when done routinely. This could be yoga or meditation.
- Take required pain medication: If suffering from an injury or joint problem that results in pain, taking your prescribed pain medication may help you stay asleep longer. However, please be aware of any side effects that your medication may cause
- Room temperature: Maintaining a comfortable room temperature helps keep you more relaxed and able to have undisturbed sleep.
- Avoid allergens: Making sure your bedroom is allergen free at all times of the night will ensure that allergies do not interrupt your sleep.
- Reduce stress: Painting, listening to soothing music, or having a massage are just some ways to reduce stress levels.
- See your doctor: There are prescription medications available that can help terminal insomnia patients get better sleep. Your doctor may also refer you to other treatment plans that can resolve any potential underlying conditions.
Precautions for terminal insomnia
Suffering from a lack of restful sleep is a serious cause for concern. Being fatigued throughout the day can cause you to make simple mistakes that could lead you to hurt yourself or even others accidentally. When suffering from terminal insomnia, it is advised to take the following precautions:
- Avoid driving as much as possible: Feelings of tiredness can affect alertness. This could increase your chance of getting into an accident.
- Monitor blood sugar levels: If you are diabetic, this is of extreme importance, as poor blood sugar maintenance can lead to several metabolic complications or even death.
- Avoid heavy or spicy meals: These may cause heartburn, causing you to wake up early in the morning
Not everyone who gets below the average number of sleep has terminal insomnia. They may simply be “short sleepers.” This is absolutely okay, as long as the rest of their day is not compromised by a lack of sleep.
If you do find yourself becoming increasingly exhausted and feel like your sleep is the reason the following recommendations discussed should help.