WHO SUFFERS FROM INSOMNIA?
WHAT IS INSOMNIA?
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder for adults worldwide.
It is estimated that about 30% of us complain of ongoing sleep disruption, and 10% have symptoms of functional impairment caused by insomnia.
By definition, people with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early and not being able to return to sleep, or waking up feeling un-refreshed.
Experiencing insomnia means you must function with some or all of the symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance at work.
Acute insomnia is relatively brief, and is usually caused by life (anxiety, stress, bad news, personal problems, runaway brain)
Chronic insomnia is when this happens for three nights a week over a 3 month period.
Fortunately, insomnia is treatable.
But, the causes of insomnia are quite wide ranging, which means treatments need to be specific to your situation and circumstances to be effective.
WHAT CAUSES INSOMNIA?
It is important to remember that Insomnia is a symptom.
Your brain is usually in either wake cycle, or sleep cycle, and insomnia is believed to be a cycle problem, where you have too much sleep drive, or too much wake drive.
This can be caused by many things physical, biological, mental and some substances.
Below is a short list of more common or known possible causes.
Some causes lead to insomnia, and others have symptoms that cause discomfort that makes sleeping difficult.
Medical Causes of Insomnia
- Allergies (nasal/sinus)
- Apnea (untreated causes wake events, and nocturia)
- Arthritis (mostly positional pain)
- Asthma (respiratory issues, or anxiety about respiratory issues)
- Chronic Pain / Lower Back Pain (can’t get comfortable enough to sleep)
- Endocrinol/Hormonal Issues (like Hyperthyroidism)
- Medications taken for colds and nasal allergies, hypertension, heart disease, thyroid, birth control, asthma and depression
- Neurological Conditions (like Parkinson’s disease)
- Gastrointestinal problems (like Reflux)
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Anxiety – any cause of mental over-stimulation like stress, tension, responsibilities, past and future events, even worrying about sleep,. can stop you getting to sleep, or getting back to sleep.
- Depression – a double whammy. Depression can cause insomnia, and insomnia can exacerbate depression.
- Afternoon Naps (for some people these can make it hard to get to sleep at night)
- Alcohol consumption (alcohol is a sedative that wears off during the night)
- Bright / Blue Light (can disrupt your circadian rhythm)
- Caffeine & Nicotine (They are stimulants that may keep you awake, so consumption timing is important)
- Late Meals (heavy meals can cause digestion discomfort, and spicy foods can cause heartburn)
- No Wind Down Time (working at home in the evening can be overstimulating, and screen light can cause circadian mis-alignment)
- Sleeping in late to make up for lost sleep (confuses your circadian rhythm)
- Shift Work (for a million years now, we have slept at night)
- Travel (Jet-Lag and temperature changes will disrupt your circadian rhythm)
Some people are biologically pre-disposed to insomnia, and struggle regardless of the advice that they follow.
Neurotransmitters, and/or chemical reactions are probably the cause, and as yet there are no answers.
Simple things that might help you . . .
- Wind Down for 30 to 40 minutes before going to sleep. Consider dimming the lights, and do what relaxes you during this time. (Read a book, listen to music)
- Turn off all screens, especially those you need to be close to, like smartphones, laptops or tablets. Any light in the “blue” range makes it harder to sleep.
- Calm your mind by doing meditation, relaxation or breathing exercises.
- If noise is a problem, consider playing relaxing music (no lyrics if possible) or even white noise to distract you from the distracting noise.
- If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes in bed, get up, and go somewhere else in the house and do a relaxing activity. Lying in bed awake, and unable to sleep can create an unhealthy link in your mind.
- Waken at the same time every day, including weekends. This helps adjust your circadian rhythm to a cycle that will help you fall asleep at night.
The above are offered as some easy options worth trying to combat infrequent issues.
Chronic insomnia sufferers should consult an accredited Sleep Physician about their unique issues and treatment options.
You are reading this because you think you may have a sleep issue. Your next step is to do something about it. Pick a button below and click it. It’s that easy to move forward
And a note about Sleep Tracking Apps . . .
Because you can be still, but not asleep, or moving slightly, but be asleep, most sleep apps can only estimate sleep length.
And research has shown that you can be positively, or negatively influenced by the numbers provided, even if they are wrong.
So,always remember that the information an app provides is indicative, and can be useful as an overview, but only an EEG will accurately determine your sleep length, and sleep staging.