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Having Trouble Sleeping? You Could Be Feeling Lonely.

March 5, 2012

Most of us are cranky, short-fused and as slow as a 300 lb intoxicated tortoise when we miss our sleep. Why else do you think the world drank as much as 136.2 million bags of coffee in 2011? Unless you are a vampire or Optimus Prime, you definitely need a solid night’s sleep to function well.

You never really appreciate how important sleep is however, until you stop getting it (or stop getting the good kind). If you are in that boat, research carried out by Lianne Kurina, PhD, at the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago, says your troubles may be because you are feeling lonely. In fact, the lonelier you feel, the more fragmented your sleep will be.

The study is just one among a number of studies over the years that have focused on the destructive effects that loneliness has on our lives.

But I’m Not Alone, There Are People Here

We Do Not Have to Be Alone, to be Lonely

Newsflash, you do not have to be alone to be lonely. It’s all about “perceived connectedness.”  Kurina, “compared the degree of loneliness reported by a close-knit population of 95 adults in rural South Dakota with measurements of their sleep cycles.” Although “none of the individuals were socially isolated,” there were people who felt more or less lonely than the average.

Kurina has noted that

…loneliness and social isolation are two distinct concepts…Loneliness reflects perceived social isolation or feelings of being an outcast, the often-painful discrepancy between a person’s desired and actual social relationships.”

Additionally, the study found that though you may sleep just as long as before you felt lonely, when you are feeling lonely the quality of sleep will be worst than when you feel secure, loved and accepted.

What to Do If You’re Feeling Lonely

It is not easy dealing with feelings of loneliness. Especially if you are already around other people, it means that you genuinely feel that no one is there for you, that no one truly understands, that no one truly appreciates you. But you need your sleep right? So what will you do?

1.       Get up and Get Out

For me, I find that I feel loneliest when I have been locked up in a dim house all day, or have not been exercising and not hanging out with people whose company I actually enjoy. It may feel like a chore at first, but get up and go do something fun.

  • Jog.

  • Call or visit a good friend.

  • Do something nice for someone else; maybe some community service?

  • Get some ice cream! (not too much!)

  • Anything!

2.       Recognize That You Do Not Need “Real” People All the Time to be With people

Of course you need others! But when you are feeling lonely and strapped for time, how about connecting with an inanimate character in a story (i.e. go read a book, watch your favourite movie, mediate on a Psalm). Chances are your character can relate to what you are feeling and just seeing how they manage can give you a boost. (There is also 2nd life, Facebook, etc).

 3.       Watch Out For & Stay Away From Lonely People

Sounds weird right, but apparently loneliness is as horribly contagious as smallpox.  In fact, researchers have found that you are 50 percent more likely to feel lonely if someone directly connected to you (more like a friend than family member) is lonely.

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  • http://twitter.com/EllaBT23 Mandi T

    Having a relationship with God is the best way to overcome loneliness… All will fall into place after… the jogging, helping others, etc.

    • http://maximizemylife.com/ Andrew Wildes

      Excellent point Mandi. Glad someone made this point (I wish the writer of this article had done so!).
      I think you need to expand it though.

      Many Christians, many people who have a genuine relationship with God feel lonely sometimes too. Loneliness is a social, even biological reality. There are many causes. Additionally, there are many ways to overcome it.
      How does having a relationship in and of itself help? It most show itself in some practical way. Praying, going to church, reading the bible, something. Agreed?
      But- there are more things that make up a person’s relationship with God. The Bible tells us that all good gifts come from God. Part of the Christian experience is also enjoy with gratitude all the good things God gives.
      For me jogging, reading, spending some time just looking up in amazement at the sky, whatever – are all part of my relationship with God, not outside it.
      So that is my addition to your point :) .
      Andrew M. WILDES

      Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

  • - M -

    While I agree with the article, it makes it seem as if you’re the only person responsible for feeling lonely. I think that society is as much to blame for this as the individual who feels this way. Most people do not have time for each other these days. No one calls you, no one sends you an e-mail and no one remembers your birthday. Is it any wonder we do feel lonely? I think if we develop a sense of community spirit amongst ourselves, then those lonely feelings we experience will diminish. It [community spirit] has been replaced by social media. Why bother picking up the phone when you can simply post a comment much like I’m doing right now? It’s quite impersonal and if we all make an effort to just take the time to reach out to someone, things might improve. You may even save a life. While you may be able to handle those feelings of loneliness, for some it’s not that easy and they can manifest themselves into depression which could lead to suicide in some cases. So, let’s make it our duty to make at least one genuine connection. You’d be amazed at the results it could have on you, the other person you’ve connected with and how well you sleep at night.

    • http://maximizemylife.com/ Andrew Wildes

       Community is a definitely important and you are right – we should try to cultivated genuine relationships.

      I don’t know if it is always as easy to find community when  you are lonely – remember, it is not about being alone. People may very much be there.

      Sometimes as well, disagreements within your community may be very source of your feelings of loneliness.

      Also, I think social media gets an unfair rap. The problem is not that people are more into social media, but that people are more into abstract associations online. What I mean is – it is for you and I to ensure that wherever we are, online or in real life – we cultivate real friendships.

      Hope that makes sense.

      • - M -

        It does make sense. Even when there are people around, you do feel alone.
        It feels as if there’s no one with whom you can identify.

         

        I don’t mind social media but I prefer meaningful conversations
        whatever the forum. Most times, the conversations that you have via these
        outlets are quite superficial. I need to feel that I have gotten something out
        of the interaction. I suppose our feelings of loneliness has more to do with
        our values and finding people who have similar values with whom we can share
        our experiences be they good or bad.

  • kim silerio

    Hi, this article is much related to my poem written in my our dialect. May I use the first photo above to be set as featured image to describe my poem? I will put a link leading this page, and consider is as related article. Thank you.

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