Only a minority of the insomnia sufferers I interviewed for The Savvy Insomniac said their insomnia began in childhood. But regardless of when their sleep problem began, a number reported having had stressful and/or abusive experiences in childhood.
Is there a relationship between adverse childhood experiences and insomnia later in life? Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests there is.
Got an infant whose sleep is getting worse rather than better (and could this be a sign of incipient insomnia)? A toddler who won’t sleep alone? A 4-year-old who shifts into overdrive when he should be winding down?
Help is at hand. A new book, The Happy Sleeper, is a friendly guide for parents of young “problem sleepers.” In reality, say authors Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright, most babies and children have no trouble sleeping at all. Instead, the problem lies in the misguided tactics well-meaning parents use to help their babies sleep.
David walked in late to a presentation I was giving on managing insomnia. I’d surveyed my audience and launched into a talk for retirees. But here was David, a high school teacher in his early twenties, and I realized I was going to have to change the remarks I was about to make.
We think of insomnia as mainly an affliction of older adults. But the facts don’t bear this out.
Blue light gets a bad rap these days in articles about sleepy teens. Exposure to blue light in the evening interferes with the secretion of melatonin (a sleep-friendly hormone), pushing circadian rhythms out of whack. This can lead to insomnia or sleep deprivation. Doctors are counseling teens and the rest of us to turn off devices that emit blue light—computers, tablets, and smartphones—in the run-up to bedtime.
This is sound advice as far as it goes. But the story on light is bigger than this simple warning suggests. Knowing how to manage your exposure to blue light can help you steer clear of sleep problems and increase your daytime stamina.
Off to college soon (or know of someone who is)? You’re probably looking forward to interesting classes, good friends, and the freedom to live away from the prying eyes of Mom and Dad. Heady prospects, all three! But you’ll also face some challenges. Getting enough sleep may be one.
But college life doesn’t have to be disruptive to sleep. By planning ahead, you can get the sleep you need whether you’re inclined to get up early or burn the midnight oil. Here’s what you can to do get a better night’s sleep away from home.
My friend Lisa passed word of my book, The Savvy Insomniac, on to a friend, whose first question, Lisa reported, was this: Did I think insomnia was genetic?
Environmental stressors can trigger insomnia: everything from childhood abuse and loss of a parent to financial worries and divorce. Behaviors and attitudes can give rise to persistent sleep problems as well. Less well understood are the biological underpinnings of insomnia, yet research suggests they exist.