Have you experienced tossing and turning during the night? Have you wondered why you can not just sleep even if you have tried very hard? Probably, you have a hard day at the office and you are stressed or maybe you have taken a lot of caffeinated drinks. There are so many things that can hinder you to fall asleep or even experiencing restful sleep. If you find yourself encountering the same sleep problems consistently, there is a great chance that you are suffering from a condition known as insomnia. Do you want to learn how to know if you have insomnia? Keep reading.
Around 30 to 35% of adults are experiencing this annoying condition. What are the etiological factors of insomnia? Why does a person experience it? What are the steps that you need to take in order for you to fall asleep easily? Just continue reading and we will give you detailed information about the causes of insomnia.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a generally known sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty in falling or staying asleep. In addition, people with insomnia also sometimes experience untimely waking up in the middle of the night or early morning, and it will be difficult for them to get back to sleep. This condition does not only impact your mood and energy level, but it also affects overall health, quality of life, and work productivity. As of the moment, this disorder has three classifications.
What is Acute Insomnia?
Acute insomnia is usually experienced by an individual when he or she faces particular life events or circumstances like receiving bad news or being stressed. A lot of people have suffered insomnia when they are mourning due to the death of a loved one, have a hard day at the office, have relationship problems, or are overwhelmed with life that they cannot stop thinking of many things. If you are experiencing this type of insomnia, you are fortunate enough since this will just rectify itself without any remedy or medication. How long does acute insomnia last? Not much.
What is Transient Insomnia?
This class of insomnia is also temporary. The symptoms could be felt for up to 3 nights and will also resolve themselves without any medications or remedies. This is usually caused by stress or discomfort brought about by noises in the surroundings, medications, or too hot or too cold temperature. Jet lag is an ultimate case of transient insomnia. This can last more than 3 days.
What is Chronic Insomnia?
This type of insomnia is characterized by sleeping difficulties and disruptions for more than 3 nights up to at least 3 months. Some of its causes include environmental change, undesirable sleeping habits, shifting work schedules, medical conditions, and a few medications. People who are usually having chronic insomnia are those who are suffering from psychiatric or physiologic conditions. If chronic insomnia lasts for more than a week, we strongly recommend you consult a doctor.
What causes insomnia?
Insomnia is caused by a lot of things. These could include physiologic and psychiatric conditions, poor sleeping habits, biological determinants, and particular substances. Based on current research, experts believe that sleeping difficulties mean that there is something wrong in the brain. Naturally, your brain controls your sleep and wake cycle; normally, when your sleep cycle is off, your wake cycle is running. They think that insomnia is caused by the sleep-wake cycle inconsistency; this means that a person could have too much sleep or wake drive.
The following conditions may lead to insomnia:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Endocrine problems
- Lower back pain
- Neurological disorders
- Chronic pain conditions
Medicines for blood pressure stabilization, colds, allergies, heart conditions, asthma, depression, birth control, and thyroid disorders could also lead to insomnia.
Mental health disorders
Anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, may break up your sleep. Waking up too early could be an indication of depressive disorder. Insomnia typically develops along with other mental health issues.ap
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
Coffee, tea, soda as well as other caffeine-containing drinks are stimulants. Consuming them in the late evening may keep you from sleeping in bed. Nicotine in cigarettes is yet another stimulant that may disrupt your sleep. Alcoholic beverages could help you sleep; however, they can prevent deeper levels of sleep and frequently brings about waking up in the midst of the night.
Sleep apnea vs insomnia
Apnea occurs when the air passage of a person becomes completely or partially obstructed when sleeping. This will eventually cause paused breathing and could lead to a decrease in oxygen levels. This will then enable the person to wake up for a short period of time during the night. Those who have sleep apnea periodically express that they are experiencing insomnia. Those two sleeping difficulties are completely different. Many people complaining about insomnia actually have sleep apnea.
Depression is among the psychiatric conditions that can lead to insomnia. Those who are struggling psychologically are likely to experience sleeping difficulties or disturbances. Insomnia itself can cause mood changes and hormonal imbalances, which will worsen psychiatric conditions and sleep disorders simultaneously. Depression is also evident in people who have sleep disorders, and those who are depressed are likely to experience insomnia.
If your mind is filled with worrisome thoughts, it goes without saying that you will likely have difficulties sleeping. If you are consistently worried and you constantly have poor sleep quality and quantity, it is likely that you will suffer insomnia. You can find the symptoms of anxiety that can cause sleep disorders below:
- Having a feeling of being carried away by responsibilities
- Having a generalized feeling of being overstimulated
- Cannot move on from previous events
- Is constantly tensed
- Too much worrying about what will happen next
Worries about your job, college, health, financial situation or family members are able to keep your brain busy at nighttime, which makes it hard to sleep. Nerve-racking life events or shock – including the passing away or sickness of a family member, breakup, or even being fired – may also cause insomnia.
Circadian rhythms work as an internal clock, directing things like the sleep-wake cycle, metabolic process, and body temperature. Interfering with circadian rhythms may bring about insomnia. Jet lag from flying across time zones or working in an early or late shift may also trigger insomnia.
Bad sleep routines
Unpredictable bedtime schedules, naps, stimulating activities before going to sleep, and unpleasant sleep conditions are bad sleep routines. Your sleep cycle is disrupted if you use your bedroom for work, watch television on the bed, play video games, or use smartphones just before bedtime.
Excessive food consumption
A light snack before going to bed is fine, but overeating could lead you to feel mentally or physically uncomfortable while you try to sleep. Many of us also endure acid reflux, a backflow of acidity and food through the stomach to the esophagus after consuming a large amount of food. This may prevent you from sleeping.
Do I have insomnia? Insomnia symptoms
How do you know you have insomnia? When talking about insomnia symptoms, it will certainly be a long list. Some of them are easily noticeable, while others are not obvious. The following are some of the symptoms of insomnia:
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Feeling tiredness upon waking up
- Waking up earlier than usual
- Waking up in the middle of the night
- Cannot easily fall asleep
- Tension headaches
- Inability to socialize
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Feeling tired during the day
- Being worried about sleep
Insomnia in Pregnancy
Pregnant women usually get exhausted, so some may think that they can easily fall asleep, right? Actually, it is not a fact. Even if you are so tired, there are things or activities that will disturb you during the night, enabling you to wake up. Hormonal imbalances, congestion, heartburn, bathroom breaks, and fetal movement are some of the instances that can disrupt and disturb the sleeping pattern and habits of a pregnant woman. It is a fact that expecting mothers in their third trimester cannot sleep well because of some discomfort. Sleep disruptions could also occur after the woman had given birth still because of hormonal imbalances and busyness in taking care of the newborn during the night.
In the first trimester, sleep disruptions and discomforts are not yet obvious or noticeable. However, in the succeeding trimesters, pregnant women may encounter sleep problems and physical displeasure. Even if they will be using the most amazing and comfortable mattress, still it cannot give them relief. However, those problems can be countered by developing good sleeping habits.
Insomnia in Older Adults
The older you are, the more likely you will experience insomnia. Elderly women more often experience this than men. But why is it that insomnia gets worse as you age? Well, this is because the elderly are susceptible to social, psychological, situational, and physical changes, which can certainly disrupt and disturb their sleeping pattern and habit. Other reasons why the elderly are more prone to insomnia include the following:
- Occurrence of menopausal syndrome
- Brain activity changes
- Taking OTC or prescription medicines
- Social changes
- Hormonal imbalances
Unfortunately, research proves that it is more difficult to diagnose insomnia in the elderly than in the young ones because of the following reasons. First and foremost, older adults do not usually seek medical help, and they will just consider sleeping problems as a normal part of aging. Next, several elderly clients are taking various medications and it will be hard to determine the cause of insomnia. It could be their medications or social and physical factors. Lastly, most elderly individuals just choose not to undergo treatment.
Insomnia Risks for the Elderly
There are several risks that are brought about by insomnia in elderly patients. Their inability to concentrate can lead to accidents such as fire accidents or vehicular accidents. The senior people are clumsy, and this could lead them to fall which will result in injury. Their avoidance to seek medical help can be a cause of depression, thereby worsening their sleep disorder.
Insomnia in Women
It is a fact that women are more prone to insomnia than men. One of the key reasons for this is the hormonal changes during menstruation and menopause. When a woman is in the perimenopausal stage, it is difficult for them to fall and stay asleep during the night because of night sweats and hot flashes. During pregnancy, hormonal changes highly impact the mood of women, which enables them to constantly wake up. There are also physiological and psychological conditions that can lead to secondary insomnia, which is also commonly experienced by women. These are anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and restless leg syndrome.
There are actually some interventions that can be done to enable patients to fall or stay asleep without using medications. However, if your insomnia is already so severe that natural treatments are not any more effective, then prescribed sleeping pills are suitable for you. But it is still ideal to try some natural remedies. These are the following:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This method can be used as an effective and long-term treatment for insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients modify their thoughts and actions. The therapy enables an individual to think and do some things to enhance their sleep quality.
If you are not yet sleepy, simply do not go to bed. It is important that the time spent in your bed and the amount of sleep you need should match. It is best to go to bed at a later time and get up earlier; in short, you just have to change your bedtime routine a little bit. Then, you can gradually increase your time in bed until it will be easy for you to fall and stay asleep.
If it is still difficult for you to fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying down, get out of bed and go to the living room. You can probably read a book or do quiet activities until you feel sleepy.
Avoid or reduce naps.
Good sleep routine
Keep your bedtime and waketime consistent every day, which includes Saturdays and Sundays.
This is a discipline that each one should engage in. Do some things that can enhance your sleep quality. These are as follows: go to sleep and wake up at a similar time each day, do not smoke, avoid taking too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks during the day, and exercise regularly.
Minimize body tension and stress through muscle relaxation, meditation, or hypnosis.
Keep your bedroom comfy
Manipulating your bedroom to become cool, dark, and quiet allows you to easily fall asleep and sleep restfully. If your environment is too hot, it could possibly disturb you as you sleep, and if the light is too bright, it could also be an issue. So, it is a good idea to invest on some earbuds and sleep masks to obstruct noise and light.
If it is time for you to go to bed yet you are still worried or thinking about so many things, consider making a to-do list prior to sleeping so that you will not spend too much time worrying while you are in bed.
This was discussed earlier. However, we would just like to emphasize that exercise can enable you to sleep better, especially if you do this a few hours before you go to bed. It allows you to relax as well.
Avoid excessive food
Stay away from huge meals and drinks before going to bed.
Medications to get rid of insomnia
Keep in mind that this is not a recommended treatment if you only think that you have insomnia; this method could be your last resort. These medications are the ones that your doctor may have you try. If you have noticed that the medications are working well, consult your doctor about this and get the diagnosis.
Prescription Sleep Drugs
If the methods mentioned above did not work for you, your doctor may likely prescribe sleep medications. Some are intended for short-term treatment, but there are medications that are intended for long-term use, especially if the insomnia is severe.
The same as other types of medications, taking sleep medications poses some risks, which include addiction or habit-forming issues, medication interactions that can lead to serious health disturbances, masking of other medical conditions that could be the cause of the sleep problem, and rebound insomnia or grogginess. In serious cases, the following health issues could occur: allergic reactions or facial swelling, increased blood pressure, nausea, confusion, weakness, short-term memory loss, dizziness, and complex sleep-related behaviors.
Over-the-counter sleep medications
These sleep aids could be of help to you if you sometimes experience bouts of sleeplessness. These are not intended to be used as a regular treatment, and these could bring undesirable effects like dry mouth, dizziness, and grogginess. Melatonin is a concrete example of a sleep aid. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not standardize food supplements as it does for regular medications.
Keep in mind that taking any sleep aids or medications on your own is not advisable. It is best to consult your doctor first as regards your sleep problems. Some sleep aids and medications contain antihistamines, which have some adverse or side effects.
Dealing with insomnia is somewhat difficult. Poor sleep quality and lack of sleep can pose danger to your life: it could negatively affect your decision-making or even lead to accidents. If you believe that you have insomnia and that natural treatments are not effective anymore, consult your doctor immediately. They can prescribe medications or they will ask you to undergo some tests to identify the cause of your sleeping problems. What is good here is that there is a wide range of treatments that you can choose from to relieve insomnia.