It’s not uncommon to experience trouble sleeping from time to time. However, for some people, it can become a more serious issue. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, with estimates of up to 30% of adults suffering from its effects. If you’re having difficulty getting enough restful sleep, understanding more about insomnia may help you get back on track. From causes such as depression, stress and lifestyle factors to treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy and upgraded bedroom furniture, this guide will help you learn more about insomnia.
What is insomnia, and what are the symptoms?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it challenging to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. If you have insomnia, you may feel exhausted during the day because you haven’t had enough restful sleep. Insomnia can be a short-term problem (acute) or a long-term condition (chronic). It can also be intermittent, which means it comes and goes. There are different types of insomnia, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. In general, the main symptom of insomnia is difficulty sleeping. This can manifest in different ways, such as:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up frequently throughout the night
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Feeling unrefreshed after a night’s sleep
- Feeling tired or fatigued during the day
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing during the day
- Irritability or crankiness
- Moodiness or depression
- Increased mistakes or accidents
What are the causes of insomnia and how can it be treated?
Many things can cause insomnia, including underlying health conditions, medication side effects, consuming stimulants (sometimes without knowing), poor sleep hygiene, environmental factors and external factors that cause stress or anxiety.
Underlying Health Conditions – Various medical conditions can lead to insomnia, such as depression, chronic pain, asthma, heartburn or other gastrointestinal problems. It’s important to note here that both physical and mental health play a role in sleep quality, so it’s essential to get checked out by a healthcare professional if you think an underlying health condition is the cause of your insomnia.
Side Effects of Medication – Certain medications can have side effects that cause difficulty sleeping. If you’re taking medication and experiencing insomnia, talk to your doctor about whether or not the medicine could be causing your sleep problems. Antidepressants, antihistamines and some blood pressure medications have been known to cause insomnia.
Consuming Stimulants – Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can interfere with a night of restful sleep. In addition, consuming stimulants later in the day or close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Environmental Factors – If a person’s bedroom is too noisy or bright, it can make it difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, if the temperature in the room isn’t comfortable enough, this can lead to difficulty sleeping.
External Factors – Stress and anxiety are two common causes of insomnia. Things like job stress, family issues or financial worries can interfere with restful sleep.
Uncomfortable Bed – From your mattress to what bedding comforters you use, having an uncomfortable bed can make it difficult to sleep. When it comes to your bed, it should be comfortable and supportive while also being conducive to getting the sleep you need.
Poor Sleep Hygiene – If you’ve never heard the term before, sleep hygiene is essentially the practice of promoting healthy sleep habits and a confluence of pretty much everything we’ve mentioned. Having a regular bedtime, avoiding stimulants before bedtime, reducing light and noise in your bedroom, avoiding screens close to bedtime and unwinding with a relaxing activity before bed can all help promote healthy sleep patterns.
Also Read: Postponed Sleep: Why We Go To Bed So Often Later Than Intended
How does insomnia affect your daily life?
Difficulty Concentrating – One of the most common effects of insomnia is difficulty concentrating. If you are not getting enough sleep, you may find it hard to focus on tasks or remember information. This can make it challenging to perform well at work or school.
Increased Risk of Accidents – Insomnia can also increase your risk of accidents. Drowsy driving is a significant cause of car accidents. In fact, it is estimated that drowsy driving caused 663 deaths in 2020, alone, in the United States. But cars aren’t the only place where people can be impaired by insomnia – it might also increase your risk of other kinds of accidents like a slip or fall at home.
Moodiness and Depression – Insomnia can lead to moodiness, irritability and even depression. If you don’t get enough sleep, it may be hard for you to feel peaceful, optimistic or motivated. You may feel exhausted and overwhelmed, making it hard to face the day.
Unexpected Weight Gain and Difficulty Losing Weight – Insomnia can cause unexpected weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight. In addition, poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and higher levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin. This may lead to cravings for unhealthy foods, making it harder to meet your health goals.
Poor Immune Function – Insomnia can also weaken your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to illness. When you’re sleep deprived, your body produces fewer cytokines, which are proteins that help fight infection. As a result, you may be more likely to get sick when you don’t get enough sleep.
High Blood Pressure – Another potential health effect of insomnia is high blood pressure. When insomnia limits the number of hours you’re sleeping, your body produces more stress hormones, which can increase blood pressure. Sleep deprivation makes it harder for your body to regulate blood sugar levels, which can also contribute to high blood pressure.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease – Insomnia is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease. One study found that people who slept less than five hours per night were at increased risk for hypertension and coronary heart disease (CHD).
What can you do to get better sleep?
The best way to treat insomnia is to make lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips that can help:
Create a Sleep Routine – Developing and sticking to a routine sleep schedule is one of the wisest things you can do to get better sleep. Regular bed and wake-up times daily help keep your body’s internal clock in sync, which will help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Exercise Regularly – Exercise can help improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Even just 15 minutes of exercise per day (ideally in the morning or afternoon) can give you more energy during the day and help you feel sleepy at night.
Limit Caffeine and Other Stimulants – Caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants can interfere with your sleep patterns by making it tougher for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. To reduce the impact of these substances on your sleep, try to avoid them in the late afternoon or evening.
Be Mindful of Your Diet – Foods that cause bloating, indigestion or heartburn can also interfere with your sleep. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and limiting spicy or fatty foods in the evening can help.
Reduce Stress – Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia. Finding ways to manage stress, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and journaling, can all make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Reduce Light and Noise in Your Bedroom – It’s important to ensure that your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable. Reducing light and noise levels can help create a more calming environment that will be easier for you to relax in before bedtime.
Invest in a High-Quality Mattress and Bedding – When it comes to the quality of mattresses out there, you get what you pay for. Investing in a high-quality mattress and bedding can significantly impact your sleep quality, so it’s essential to ensure that your sleeping environment is comfortable and supportive.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – For some people, insomnia is more than just a lifestyle issue. In these cases, it can be helpful to seek out professional help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an effective treatment for chronic insomnia and can provide long-term relief from sleep disturbances.
Getting better sleep is vital for your overall health and well-being, so it’s important to ensure that you take the necessary steps to get a good night’s rest. With some simple lifestyle changes and the proper support, you can start sleeping better and feeling better too!
Also Read: Six Tips From The Experts To Sleep Better