4 Main Causes of Insomnia and Tips for Treating It

Have you ever wondered why you have those nights that you just cannot fall asleep? Are you having them every night? It might be time for a new mattress or it could be time to reevaluate your habits. Read this to find out more about insomnia and how you can treat or prevent it.

Insomnia 1

We have all experienced insomnia, those one or two nights a week that you just cannot fall asleep, or go back to sleep. You know you have a busy day in the morning so the stress of not falling asleep only seems to make things worse.

If you haven’t had this experience before, then you are most certainly one of the lucky ones!

There are two types of insomnia namely:  onset insomnia (having trouble falling asleep) & maintenance insomnia (waking up during the course of the night and being unable to fall asleep again).

By identifying which one you are more prone to, you can look at these factors and see which of them you are experiencing in your life and then treat your insomnia accordingly.

  1. That old bed

Every night you lay down on your so called comfy bed and try to fall asleep. However, every night no matter how tired you are, you constantly tossing and turning the entire night, waking up with muscles that ache and in some cases even a headache.

Ever wondered why? Have a look at your bed’s mattress. Your mattress is probably one of the most important factors when it comes to having a good night’s rest. Your body needs to be able to relax completely for your sleep cycle to be activated and if your brain is constantly telling your body to rectify sore muscles because of a bad mattress that doesn’t support your body weight and frame, then how can it go into sleep mode?

Your mattress needs to support your body entirely. If it doesn’t, you need a new mattress.

Tip: If you have a lumpy old mattress, then it is time for a new one. Sell the old one, or donate it, and visit your nearest Mattress Warehouse store. Explain to the sleep consultant on duty why you need a new mattress and if you have any prior body injuries such as a back condition or a neck condition also inform them of that, so that they can assist you in choosing the correct mattress for you and help you to get a good night’s rest.

  1. Bad Habits before Bed

You would not think it but everything that you eat and drink during the course of the day, and mainly before bedtime, can tremendously affect your sleep.

Let’s review:

Alcohol in the evening can work as a sedative to help you fall asleep but will interrupt your sleep later in the night because once it has worked through your system, your mind will automatically wake you up, giving you maintenance insomnia. Not only will this cause less sleep but it will also affect your organs which will, at a later stage, also cause less sleep.

Caffeine is one of the most common fluid intakes that we use to get us going, especially with that first cup of coffee in the morning that we love so much. However, what you might not know is that caffeine stays in the system for around eight hours. The average amount of coffee that a person drinks during the day is about 4 cups, which while it is not very good for you, it won’t keep you up at night if you drink it during the day. But by drinking that last cup right before bed, you tell your body to kick start again right when you are trying your best to fall asleep.

Having dinner or a heavy snack close to your normal bedtime? Your body still needs to digest the late night meals and could cause quite a bit of uneasiness that makes it that much harder for your body to slow down and relax.

Nicotine is also known to be a stimulant and for that reason, it can also cause insomnia.

Coffee can disrupt your sleep so it is best to minimise the caffeine before bed.
Coffee can disrupt your sleep so it is best to minimise the caffeine before bed.

Tip:  Don’t drink alcohol before going to bed and if you have a drink during the evening make sure to have lots of water before you go to bed as to allow your body to accept the alcohol before you go to sleep.

Avoid coffee before bed. If you are used to having a cup of coffee before bedtime then replace it with rooibos tea or any calming tea that does not contain caffeine.

Stop eating at a certain time in the evening, round about 2 hours before you go to bed, this will give your body enough time to digest the food, and making sure you do not have any discomfort.

No smoking before bedtime. If you cannot quit the habit then at least have your last cigarette 45min before you go to bed.

  1. Lifestyle

Yes, it is true, bad lifestyle habits can also play a major role in disrupting a good night’s sleep.  Firstly if you have very unhealthy sleep habits such as going to bed at different times and waking up at a different time each day, then it will definitely affect your sleep. Your mind as an internal clock and by going to sleep and waking up at various times you are disrupting that clock making it harder for your mind to start your sleep and wake cycles.

If you work shifts then that can also be a huge factor because you will be sleeping in the day time and at night times on various days. Taking those afternoon naps, everybody loves a quick half hour nap every now and then but for some people, this can be the cause of onset insomnia. Taking a nap can confuse your brains cycles and cause you to struggle to fall asleep. This, however, is not the case with everyone, some people can take a quick nap and feel rejuvenated and fall asleep easily.

Sleeping later to make up for lost sleep is one of the most common mistakes you can make. You can never catch up lost sleep. By sleeping later you confuse your body and mind. Snoozing your alarm for hours every morning, every 10 or 30 min you wake up to put off your alarm, this trains your mind to wake up every few minutes causing insomnia.

Working from home in the evenings, making it extra hard for your body to unwind and making you feel anxious before you have to go to bed. Working on devices such as laptops and cell phones that contain bright lights causes your mind to go into work cycle and avoid the healthy sleep cycle, leaving you to toss and turn all night.

Tip:  Create a pattern for sleeping and waking up. Make sure to go to bed the same time every evening as far as possible and wake up at the same time. This way you train your mind and body.  If you work shifts, try and arrange that your shifts are the same every week as this will also train your body and mind to create a sleeping pattern.

No matter how tired you are, don’t sleep in late. Now and then is ok, but not every time you go to bed a bit late. Stick to your traditional waking up time. Stop pushing that snooze button, set your alarm and place the alarm on the other side of the room so that you have to get up to switch it off, then stay up.

Try not to work on your electronics or any devices that have bright lights at least an hour before you go to bed. Do not take your laptop to bed with you and switch off your phone when you get into bed.

Technology such as laptops and smartphones are best kept away from the bedroom.
Technology such as laptops and smartphones are best kept away from the bedroom.
  1. Anxiety & Depression

Some people assume they have anxiety or a hint of the depression but never really know if it is so, however by having a sleepless night you only add fuel to the thought. There are various different stages of anxiety and depression and because of that, you can experience different levels of insomnia.

If you lay awake every night worrying about past events that took place or things that need to be done tomorrow or just worry about a lot of things in general then that is most certainly a level of anxiety and your brain is unable to go into the healthy sleep cycle because it is trying to handle the anxiety and trying to keep you calm.

If you feel tired, lifeless, uninspired and withdrawn for society then you might be experiencing depression and this can cause maintenance insomnia.  Furthermore, if you are suffering from anxiety or depression then having no sleep will just aggravate the situation even more. It will start to affect your mood and your hormone levels that in the case of anxiety can cause depression. Being constantly tired will most definitely affect your daily functionality and, in turn, stop you from being the best person or employee that you can be.

Tip: If your mind is racing all through the night and it feels like you cannot switch it off, then keep a notebook next to your bed, sit up and write down everything that is on your mind. It might be a to-do list for the next day or arrangements for an event or even just something that happened during the day that upset you. Write it down. By giving an out to the thoughts on your mind, it will help your mind relax and go into the sleep cycle. DO NOT write it on your phone, the harsh light from the phone will immediately wake up your mind again, use a soft bedside lamp to give you light to write. In the case of depression, acknowledge that you are in a depressive state and get to the root of why. If you cannot find the root then consult a therapist or a general practitioner.

If you have changed your mattress, changed your habits and made changes in your lifestyle, and addressed your depression issues and anxiety, and yet you still cannot get a good night’s rest then consult your doctor as soon as possible as it might be biological.

Guest blog written by Vasti Lourens