If you’re struggling to fall asleep, or simply to sleep in general, you may wonder if you have Insomnia. This complicated sleep disorder has a wide range of causes which makes it so hard to treat. However, in recent years the medical world has made leaps and bounds in research on Insomnia.
When evaluating any medical condition it is important to have a look at the causes, effects and treatments on the disorder. Furthermore, it is also important to note that any information gathered online can in no way replace the advice of a medical professional. I disclaim that I a not a medical professional. Any and all information in this article does not serve as medical advice or treatment. If you suspect that you have insomnia, see your doctor regarding this issue.
With that out of the way, let’s have an in-depth look at the sleep depriving monster insomnia is.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or fall back asleep at night. This condition can have many causes, and is therefore very hard to treat. People suffering from sleeplessness often experience symptoms like fatigue, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and moodiness — to name a few.
Insomnia can come in two forms: Acute of Chronic. Acute insomnia may be due to traumatic or eventful life changes affecting the our circadian rhythms. This usually lasts from a few days to about a week or even a month. Typically when issues are resolved, sleep patterns in acute insomnia return to normal.
Chronic insomnia, however, lasts much longer than this. Patients can expect to experience sleeplessness for periods longer than one month. The extended lack of sleep takes a further toll on sufferers. Patients will find their mind and bodies deteriorating due to the lack of sleep. It is therefore crucial to find the cause and apply correct treatment for this condition.
Symptoms of any disease or condition can also be classified as the effects of said condition. The symptoms patients experience give doctor clues as to what they’re dealing with. These are also a good indication for you to evaluate and decide when it is time to see a doctor.
We’ve lightly brushed over some symptoms insomnia sufferers might experience. For the sake of clarity and thoroughness, let’s have a look at the most common to rare symptoms of this sleep disorder.
- Inability to fall asleep/ stay asleep
- Sleepiness during the day
- Lack of concentration
- Tension Headaches
- Gastrointestinal problems
Delving deeper into chronic insomnia, one will find an endless list of causes for this sleep disorder. There are, however, a couple of main causes for this condition. These include:
- Chronic Stress
- Hormone shifts
- Mental health issues
- Pain at night
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Eating too much, too late in the evening
- Other sleep disorders
Many people experience stress in their daily lives. This stress fluctuates naturally and is usually only periodically. Some people, however, are in very stressful positions at work.
With high responsibility and risks as well as expectations to uphold, minds often stay active and awake at night. With minds awake, pondering on solutions to overwhelming problems, these people lay awake – night after night.
Our bodies constantly change and adapt to our inner en outer environments. Women, especially, are at risk for hormone-onset insomnia. With so many fluctuations in hormone levels during the span of a couple of weeks, it is inevitable that sleep may be disrupted at some point during the month.
Furthermore, women experiencing menopause may fall victim to the infamous menopausal insomnia. The steady decline of estrogen and progesterone in the woman’s body can throw everything off balance.
Mental Health Issues
A lack of sleep may cause insomnia, but sometimes it can be the other way around. Developing a mental health disorder may create the very same symptoms a chronic stressed individual experiences.
Sufferers of mental health disorders may find themselves pondering and overthinking at night – with sleep staying away.
Pain at Night
Patients suffering from chronic pain may find themselves laying awake, or waking up during the night due to pain. There are, evidently, a lot of causes for chronic pain. From back pain to fybromyalgia to more serious illnesses such as cancer, the causes for pain-onset insomnia may very well be endless.
Poor Sleep Hygiene
It might be the first time you hear of sleep hygiene. Basically, sleep hygiene is the things you do before, and during sleep that affect your quality of rest. Good sleep hygiene would look like:
- No screens before bed
- Slightly cooler room temperature
- A shower or bath before bed
- Being quiet and restful in the evening
If you’d like to read more about sleep hygiene, feel free to click through here!
Eating too Much, too Late in the Evening
Ever heard of nightmares because you ate too much? Additionally, eating too much can cause discomfort, making it hard to settle in for the night. Furthermore, spicy foods can cause heartburn which will ward off sleep even more.
Other Sleep Disorders
A sleep disorder is defined as follows: A condition that frequently impacts your ability to get enough quality sleep. You can become an insomniac due to other sleep disorders.
A few of these are:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Jet Lag (acute Insomnia)
- Sleep Walking
- Night Terrors
- Sleep study
- Set sleep schedule
- Bedtime routine
- Write it down
- Avoid triggers
The first step in treating insomnia would be to find the proper cause. Therefore, your doctor would have you undergo a sleep study. During the sleep study, you will spend the night (or a couple of nights) in a sleep clinic under evaluation.
Sleep cycles are observed by an EEG monitor to identify any particular disturbances in sleep patterns. Furthermore, eye movements, heart rate and oxygen levels are also observed to identify any possible causes for insomnia. It is easy to identify that you have insomnia, finding the exact cause is the hard part.
Set Sleep Schedule
While you waiting for your sleep study results, be proactive in treating your possible insomnia. Start by practicing a set sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at exactly the same time each day. Practice this, without exception (yes, weekends too!) to condition your body into a sleep routine. This will make it easier to fall asleep as well as wake up in the mornings.
Adding on to a set sleep schedule, following a set exercise program may also aid your body in getting quality sleep. Strenuous exercise will tire out your body. You may see yourself falling asleep in minutes!
Take heed, however, that you do not overdo it. Evidence has shown that too much strenuous exercise, too often keep sleep at bay. Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline keeps your mind and body awake for hours. Furthermore, shifts in body temperature due to exercising will also affect you falling asleep.
We’ve already discussed sleep hygiene. Practicing good sleep hygiene before bedtime may also end your nightmare that is insomnia. This might help if you struggle to fall asleep, or if your sleep quality is lousy.
- Do you spend time on your phone right before you fall asleep? Sorry, but that has to go.
- Or are you dependent on a movie to fall asleep? Unfortunately, that has to be kicked as well.
- Eating large meals at night? Not anymore!
The list of poor habits goes on and on. If you’re really serious about treating your insomnia, then break these sleep hindering practices. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine by creating a relaxing and sleepy environment before bed.
Write it Down
Are your among the group of insomniacs who lay awake just because your mind can’t shut down? This can be due to stress, a busy life or a busy mind.
Ward off insomnia induced by thoughts, by writing down your worries, ideas and thoughts before bed. This prevents you from pondering on and on about an issue. You can then evaluate your thoughts and solutions with a clear mind the very next morning.
We all know that there are certain thing keeping our bodies from falling asleep. Every person is different. Therefore, everyone will have different triggers that keep them awake.
However, the most common triggers to avoid are:
- Prescription drugs for high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease and depression. Evaluate these, and talk to your doctor about switching to alternatives.
Lastly, when you and your doctor have exhausted all lanes for treating insomnia, they might prescribe you medication to aid you in managing your condition. There are a number of medications for treating insomnia on the market. Your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills or sleeping aids to treat insomnia. If you’d like to read more on sleeping pills and sleeping aids, have a look here.
Stay hopeful on the road to treat the monster that is insomnia. Luckily, we live in the 21st century. With so many treatment options out there, it’s pretty unlikely that your insomnia is here to stay. Good luck on your quest for quality sleep!