Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This lack of sleep can increase daytime fatigue and irritability. It can also result in lost work productivity and an increase in accidents at work and while driving.
What causes insomnia?
There are many reasons why you may have insomnia.
1. Emotional Distress
More particularly when it is from internalized anxiety or anger, emotional problems can easily trigger this sleep disorder. Receiving bad news or dealing with an emotional situation at work or at home can cause you to lose sleep.
2. Substance Abuse
Drinking too much coffee, colas or other “energy-upper drinks” is known to cause insomnia. Caffeine from these drinks is the main reason. Chain smokers can also be easy victims of insomnia because of the nicotine that cigarettes contain. Herbal remedies, alcohol and other medications can also make one prone to becoming an insomniac. Some may think that alcohol, when consumed, can make one feel drowsy. But little did they know that in the long run, when the alcohol gets metabolized, sudden wakefulness will follow.
3. Biological Clock Disturbance.
Also known as circadian rhythm, one’s body clock, when altered, can damage the amount of sleep one can peacefully enjoy. This body clock disturbance can be caused by an irregular slumber schedule because of too much siesta or partying too late at night. It can also be jetlag or body clock disturbance due to traveling by plane to some place where there is a different time zone. Other causes may be the graveyard schedules of workers and cramming review season for students induced by exams.
4. Environmental Factors
Extreme temperatures can disrupt one’s sleeping patterns. Noise and bright lights can have the same effect too. Sleeping in an unfamiliar place can cause the inability to sleep. Those who travel often for work and sleep in hotels may be more prone to this.
5. Health Problems
Health disorders such as diabetes, heart failure, hyperthyroidism, ulcers, and Parkinson’s disease can also induce insomnia. Asthma may also be one health problem that makes one prone to insomnia because of an asthmatic’s shortness of breath. Frequent urination, heartburn, and chronic pain from leg cramps, toothache and arthritis can also cause insomnia. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and Restless Legs Syndrome can create poor sleep.
Psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and depression are also possible culprits for insomnia. Snoring with prolonged pauses in breathing while at sleep, also known as sleep apnea can also cause insomnia. Periodic arm and leg movements during sleep causing the muscles to twitch excessively is one underlying cause of this sleep disorder. Another cause is narcolepsy or one’s lack of control on whether to stay awake or to fall asleep, is another cause of this sleep disorder.
6. Pre-bedtime Activities
Engaging in vigorous activities such as exercise just right before bedtime can deprive one of a good night’s sleep. Consuming large meals when one is just about to sleep can also make one experience this sleeping disorder. This is because when metabolism is at its most active thus the body prompts one to stay awake.
Who is prone to insomnia?
It has been reported that up to 90% of people may suffer from transient insomnia at some point in their lives. It is estimated that up to 30% may suffer from chronic insomnia.
a. Women are said to be at greater risk of developing insomnia due to:
– Pre-menstrual syndrome with symptoms of irritability, depression, and anxiety. Bloating due to menstruation may disturb a woman’s sleeping pattern.
– Menopause can also change a woman’s sleeping pattern. Hot flash sufferers may be more prone to broken sleep patterns.
– Insomnia or the inability to comfortably sleep is common in pregnancy, especially in the 3rd trimester.
b. Elderly people are also prone to insomnia as aging can alter sleep patterns.
Alternative medicine or the use of alternative medicine types and natural remedies can be a successful way of treating those suffering from insomnia. When administered properly by a qualified health specialist or therapist, they encompass a wide variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. You may find one or more of the following alternative medicine types helpful to you.
- The learning of relaxation techniques can help you to fall asleep faster and increase your sleep time. There are lots of things that you can do to improve your relaxation such as visualization which helps you relax by imagining a relaxing scene.
- Meditation and yoga can be effective for some people to aid in relaxation and as an aid in falling asleep.
- Acupuncture is often used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating cases of insomnia and is becoming a more popular practice in the western world.
- Cutting out caffeine late in the day by avoiding coffee, tea or soft drinks can aid in better sleep. Avoiding sweets at night and not eating a large meal right before bedtime are two other dietary changes that can help you attain a good night’s sleep.
- Regular exercise can help you sleep better. Avoid exercise right before bedtime, as it can have the opposite effect.
- Herbal remedies such as drinking herbal teas and aromatherapy have been shown to help some people overcome insomnia. Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis), and herbs such as chamomile, passionflower, hops, ginseng, lemon balm, and skullcap are all sometimes effective in aiding in sleep. Many have found that taking a warm bath with appropriate aromatherapy oils added can relax the body and reduce a stressful mind to help you enjoy a comfortable rest through the night. Natural remedies are not always benign. Some herbal therapies can interact with other medications you may be taking. It is good practice to always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before you add herbs to your current medications.
Dealing with insomnia can feel like a nightmare. Using some of these techniques you may be able to rid yourself of the feeling of dread as bedtime approaches. If you have tips on falling asleep please share them in the comments below.