Have you again spent half the night staring at the ceiling? Is the quiet breathing of your partner asleep beside you becoming very annoying? Or, maybe, you’ve spent most of the night in a half-asleep, half-awake state that is more of a daze than real sleep. If this has become a normal occurrence three to four times a week, it’s time you explored the causes of insomnia.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you have eight million people in the country awake with you. So, you’re not really alone. In fact, the organization has declared March 10th to be Insomnia Awareness Day. That’s how serious the problem is.
Ready for some more interesting information? People can have two kinds of insomnia – chronic or short-term. The former lasts for less than 3 months and affects around a fifth of the people. The latter or chronic insomnia may last for more than 3 months with patients having symptoms of sleeplessness at least three times a week. Sounds familiar? If this is you, you’re one of the 10% of Americans facing the same sleeplessness issue. And, yes. You need to start looking for your causes of insomnia.
But, How Will You Know if You Really Are Insomniac?
Before exploring the causes of insomnia, maybe, you should make sure you really have a problem. The Mayo Clinic helps you identify some of the most common (and, serious) signs you need to watch out for.
- You can’t seem to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- You wake up during the night or long before you’ve set your alarm to go off.
- You wake up feeling as exhausted as you felt when you went to bed.
- You’re tired all through the day
- You feel depressed and irritable.
- You can’t seem to focus on any tasks at home or at work.
- You have trouble remembering things.
- You make all kinds of errors and cause the most ridiculous of accidents.
- You’re starting to worry if you’ll be able to sleep tonight also.
If you’ve been noticing these symptoms, you need to check with your healthcare professional. She might recommend that you go in for sleep testing to identify your causes of insomnia.
Your Insomnia Could be Caused by Medical Issues
Several medical issues could make it impossible for you to sleep peacefully. Your doctor will likely run the necessary tests to rule out these health problems:
- Diabetes: Uncontrolled sugar levels may need you to wake up in the night to urinate often while low blood sugar might make you feel uneasy and unable to sleep.
- Indigestion and heartburn: If you eat heavy foods with high levels of fatty content and take lots of alcohol and coffee in the evenings, your body may not be able to digest the meal properly leading to heartburn and indigestion.
- Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders: Chronic pain in your joints, muscles, and tendons might make it difficult for you to sleep.
- Heart disease: If your heart is not functioning properly, you might find it hard to breathe normally. As a result, you’ll wake up frequently during the night leading to disturbed sleep.
- Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid might cause your nervous system to go into overdrive so you cannot sleep and have night sweats.
- Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease are also causes of insomnia.
- Hormone Imbalances: As you cross the age of 35 years, you might start to notice the symptoms of hormone balances that are characterized by hot flashes, night sweats, disturbed sleep patterns, and depression and anxiety, all of which can make it hard for you to sleep well at night.
- Certain prescription drugs can also make it difficult to sleep. These can include any medications that contain stimulants or treatments for high blood pressure, weight loss, asthma, allergies, and colds, among others.
Your Medical Practitioner Can Guide You
Having identified the causes of insomnia, your healthcare practitioner will likely refer you to a specialist who can help you with the specific issue that’s making it impossible for you to sleep. For instance, he might ask you to see a cardiologist for your heart problems or a gastroenterologist to help you with your digestive issues. For symptoms of hormone imbalances, he’ll likely recommend that you get in touch with the experts in the field such as the BHRC, center for HRT in Los Angeles. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) uses plant-based hormone supplements that can correct the balances and help you sleep better.
How About You Look Out for Lifestyle Causes?
Under the directions of your doctor, you might also want to look for lifestyle causes of insomnia. Unknowingly, many people follow certain everyday habits that may be contributing to their insomnia. Take a look at some of these factors identified by the National Sleep Foundation.
- You nap during the day. Even if you’re only taking short power naps that help you recover energy levels, they could be causing you to stay awake. Avoid those naps for a few days and see if your sleep levels improve.
- If you often work late at night using electronic equipment or use entertainment media like video games, the television, tablets, or even your phone, your brain may be too keyed up to relax and fall asleep. Make it a point to keep electronics out of the bedroom and shut them all down at least a couple of hours before bedtime to give your brain time to relax.
- One of the leading causes of insomnia is irregular sleeping and waking up times. This factor is especially true for people who work night shifts and late hours. Your body might find it hard to regulate its circadian rhythms leading to sleeplessness. If you cannot avoid the night shifts, ask your doctor for help with sleep prescriptions
- Eat light, early meals in the evenings, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
Consider Natural Remedies
When trying to identify the causes of insomnia and finding solutions to them, know that sometimes, natural remedies work better than anything else. For instance, try meditating or using natural sources of serotonin, a chemical that soothes and relaxes the brain. Drink warm milk or green tea, and include foods that contain magnesium in your diet. Lavender oil applications are also known to help.
Sleeplessness and the mental and physical effects of the condition can make it difficult for you to function normally during the day. But, by identifying the causes of insomnia, you can take the proper steps to rectify the problem.
Have a Good Night!