Adjustment Insomnia After Moving – How to Recognize and Treat It

July 19, 2021 / Posted in Moving Basics
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

Moving is said to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, so it’s not surprising that it could cause some adverse effects, such as adjustment insomnia. It is estimated that about 70 million Americans have some sort of sleeping disorder, with about 20% of adults that suffer from short-term sleep disruption. Major life changes, such as relocation, could severely impact an individual’s sleeping habits – learn how to recognize and fight it.

A woman suffering from adjustment insomnia after cross-country moving
Acute sleeping problems are a common occurrence after the relocation

How Do You Know You Have Insomnia – Acknowledging Problems With Sleep

This type of sleeping disorder can be viewed through various symptoms of sleeping issues, so make sure to answer the following questions:

  • Are you having problems falling asleep at night?
  • Are you waking up often during sleeping hours?
  • Are you waking up earlier than you wanted without being able to fall asleep again?
  • Would you assess your sleeping quality as bad?

If the answer to some or multiple questions above is yes, it is possible that your sleeplessness is a sign of acute or chronic sleeping problems. It is vital that you don’t just ignore it and hope it will pass – you can only create a bigger problem for yourself. On the other hand, it is crucial not to mix sleeping disorders with sleep deprivation, which implies that a person can fall and stay asleep but hasn’t been given the opportunity.

A woman coping with insomnia after long-distance moving
Don't ignore symptoms - they could lead to depression and anxiety problems

What Is Adjustment Insomnia? Different Types of Sleeping Issues

Psychiatrists recognize two types of this problem – acute (adjustment) and chronic. Symptoms in both cases include similar issues (the ones we pointed out above), and the main difference between these two is how long they are part of a person’s life. In the first case, they don’t last longer than three months, while chronic problems could last for years, causing depression and other psychological issues. The acute variety can often be dealt with without medical help, but if it becomes a chronic problem, the person needs to undergo medical treatment and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Acute Insomnia Causes

There are two causes for the short-term variety – it is either linked with some kind of environmental problem or a stressful life event. If you are moving in with your significant other, it could take time to get used to sleeping every night in a bed that is not your own. Next, if you are relocating from a small town to a big city, you might find it hard to cope will all that big-city noise, and it could affect your sleeping pattern. Lastly, after relocating to another state, you are bound to be stuck with the unfamiliar environment in the beginning, which can at least cause the famous first night effect.

Even though you could find several tips for moving interstate that helped you get closer to having a stress-free relocation, they couldn’t erase all stressfulness that comes with moving to a new home across the country. The stress could be related to the relocation process itself, but also significant life changes for all family members, such as changing schools, jobs, moving away from friends, and so on.

A man stressed about long-distance moving lying beneath boxes
Relocation is the third most stressful life event

How to Cope With Acute Sleep Disruptions and Not Let Them Affect My Health?

Usually, a person can manage acute sleep issues without professional help, which is why the problem itself is short-lived. If you notice that you have had problems for more than a couple of days, try to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day,
  • Don’t torture yourself by forcing yourself to fall asleep (it will only have the opposite effect),
  • Avoid using any gadgets before you go to bed,
  • Avoid hard physical exercise before bed (it will increase your adrenaline levels),
  • Do yoga, listen to relaxing music, or do anything that will help you feel calmer,
  • Don’t use any type of stimulants before you go to bed, such as nicotine, alcohol, and, especially, caffeine.

If you want to find more ways of improving your sleeping habits, watch the following video:

Moving-Related Adjustment Insomnia

Choosing a reliable long-distance moving company, hiring long-distance movers, and opting for an auto transport company instead of driving the car by yourself can highly reduce the amount of stress you are bound to experience. If you take those steps, the chances of you having severe sleeping problems in the future will be significantly lower.


Sleeping Problems Before the Relocation

Some of the relocation-related issues can cause several sleepless nights even before the move, such as:

Save your mental health and avoid tossing and turning because of the relocation, get organized for the move as best as possible. Every planned step and task will be a step toward freeing yourself of unnecessary worries.

A man taking notes for long-distance moving
Good organization will save you from long, sleepless nights

Sleep Difficulties After Moving In

A globally known consequence of cross-country moving is a syndrome called jet lag – it is common in interstate relocations that include going through several time zones. It could cause you sleeping problems if you don’t adjust to the new time zone immediately. Obviously, it has nothing to do with the stressfulness of the relocation, and your condition would likely improve quickly.

The more obvious reason for the origin of sleeping problems could be the time needed to get used to new surroundings. By relocating so far away, you will undoubtedly step out of your comfort zone, especially if you are relocating to another state alone – that would be hard for anyone. Saying bye to friends and family combined with a completely new environment can cause sleepless nights for a few days (or weeks).

How Can Sleeping Disorders Affect Your Health After Moving and How to Deal With Them?

Both types of insomnia include similar conditions, from everyday tiredness and low concentration to mood swings and migraines. Each one can negatively impact your health and daily life and could worsen if problems last too long.

You kid may not be able to memorize any information at school due to tiredness, or you might have poor performance at the new job. If you are looking to get a job in a new city, you may perform badly in your interviews because of terrible focus. In the worst cases, tiredness could pose a significant problem for the person’s life – it could be dangerous for them and all the people around if they are driving, for example.

With that in mind, take precautions, aside from those already mentioned, to prevent having severe sleeping difficulties. Remember to:

  • Unpack and arrange your bedroom as soon as possible – being around your stuff will help you adjust more quickly.
  • Try to meet your neighbors and make an effort to make friends in the new city – they will help you cope with such a serious transition.
  • Go for long walks with your furry friends if you are relocating with pets – it will help you stay relaxed.
  • Try not to overthink – stay in the present as long as you can, without contemplating past or future mistakes.
A woman laughing with her new friends after the cross-country moving
Making new friends will make you less stressed

How Do You Fix Severe Insomnia After Moving?

Suppose your problem doesn’t pass after more than three months. In that case, you should pay your GP a visit and get your diagnosis. If your diagnosis is a severe case of sleeping disorder, your doctor should provide information about different treatment possibilities to choose from.

Behavioral Therapy or Medications – How to Treat Sleeping Disorders?

Medications will solve your problem, but they will be only a short-term solution. Apart from that, they can be highly addictive or cause side effects. That is why most people nowadays want information about alternative solutions and often choose behavioral therapy instead.

The best part of this type o treatment is that it doesn’t cure symptoms but force you to cope with the causes. Its focus is on defining thoughts and actions that cause you sleeping issues and implementing healthy habits. In order to track your sleep patterns and possible problems, your therapist will likely ask you to keep a sleeping diary or even undergo a polysomnography test.

Medication that could help a person with adjustment insomnia after long-distance moving
If you use sleeping medications, you'll have a solution for only a short period of time

What Is an Adjustment Disorder and Can It Occur After the Relocation?

Adjustment disorder is not necessarily connected to sleeping problems but represents an emotional reaction to a stressful event or a significant change in a persons’ life. It is associated with psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety. It happens when people can’t handle the change that life has brought upon them. And while acute insomnia mainly occurs in adulthood, this type of mental problem is common amongst teenagers and must be adequately treated.

If you are moving with teenagers or young adults relocating for the first time, pay attention to their behavior and moods and provide them with professional help if needed.

A mother comforting her shield after cross-country moving
Your kids could suffer from depression after the relocation - make sure to help them cope

Embrace the Power of Positive Thinking

Roy Benett once said: “The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts, the more you can attract great things into your life,” and it is a common thing people forget to do when relocating. You must maintain an optimistic attitude and mean it. Stay positive despite all the small bumps on the road – you will get past them soon enough. The less you worry after the relocation, the more positively it will affect your whole well-being, and you’ll quickly find yourself deep in dreamland with a smile on your face.

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