Many people struggle to sleep at night. Insomnia is a disorder that causes you to wake up earlier than intended, makes it difficult for you to fall asleep or you struggle to stay asleep at night. When you wake up in the morning, you feel tired, as your energy is depleted. Insomnia, also, affects your mood and health (1). Insomnia can affect your performance at work, as well as your social interactions.
To perform at peak levels, most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep every night. During certain periods, adults may suffer from acute insomnia, which is short-term insomnia that can last for several days or weeks. The cause of acute insomnia is usually due to excessive stress or a traumatic event.
What Are The Specific Causes Of Insomnia?
Conditions that cause you discomfort may lead to a disruption in your sleep. Conditions such as acid reflux, arthritis or low back pain can be the cause of your sleepless night. Studies have shown that the loss of sleep can even exacerbate the pain.
You may be grateful for the drugs that are helping you to lower your blood pressure or are treating your depression, but these drugs could be responsible for your insomnia. Numerous medications that can be bought over the counter contain caffeine or other stimulants that are keeping you awake during the night (2). These drugs disrupt your sleep by blocking melatonin production or by affecting the body's natural levels of enzymes.
Depression Or Anxiety
Clinical depression or an anxiety disorder may be the reason you are not getting enough sleep. Sinking into depressing or anxious thoughts are very distracting when trying to clear your mind and get some shut eye. In addition, when you have an anxiety disorder, you may worry about not getting sleep; therefore, it makes it even harder for you to fall asleep.
If you are suffering from itchy eyes or your nose is blocked, you may experience a loss of sleep. In fact, almost 60% of people who had nasal allergies said that they struggled to sleep at night. Health experts proved that individuals with allergies were prone to sleeping disorders such as insomnia.
A diet is a major constituent of your lifestyle; therefore, your eating and drinking habits affect your sleep. Health experts have advised individuals suffering from insomnia to eliminate caffeine consumption at least six hours before bedtime. Although alcohol may assist in falling asleep, experts have proven that it can be a cause of waking up throughout the night. You should avoid having a big meal before bedtime as it can affect your digestive system and cause heartburn.
Your habitat has a great impact on your sleep. Environmental factors such as excessive noise, bright lights or extreme temperatures can interfere with your sleep. Although these factors are related to acute insomnia, these can cause long-term insomnia, as well (3).
An abrupt change to your sleeping pattern may cause insomnia, even though it may be acute. Changing your work shifts from day to night or even jet lag can be the cause of your lack of sleep.
Insomnia can cause you to struggle to sleep at night or make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Some of the causes of insomnia include environmental factors, allergies, medication and depression.
Healthy Sleep Habits
One of the most effective methods to treating insomnia is to establish healthy sleep habits. How exactly do you do that?
- You should go to bed only when you feel sleepy
- If you struggle to fall asleep within half an hour of lying down, you should get up
- Make sure that you go to bed early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep
- Ensure that your bedroom is quiet and relaxing
- Your bed should be used only for sleeping, not for any other activity
- Avoiding napping during the day as much as possible (4)
What Else Can Be Done?
As with most disorders, you can take several steps to ensure that you never experience a sleepless night.
- Eliminate alcohol and caffeine - Health experts have proven that the effects of caffeine can last up to 24 hours; therefore, it has an effect on your sleep (5). Alcohol may help you to fall asleep, but it will be the cause of your awakening throughout the night.
- Exercise - Studies have shown that regular exercise can improve the duration, as well as the quality, of your sleep (6).
- Avoid drinking or eating before bedtime - We have mentioned above that these are one of the causes of insomnia. Drinking before bed can affect the bladder negatively, resulting in frequent bathroom visits throughout the night.
- Reduce stress - A mind bogged down with stress will result in a sleepless night. You can try several stress reduction methods or relaxation therapies that will help to relax your mind.
- Set the alarm clock - For your body to get consistent sleep, it needs to adjust to a sleeping schedule. Even on weekends when it is tempting to sleep in, you will have to wake up the same time as the rest of the days in the week in for your body to get used to a specific sleep routine.
You can adopt several lifestyle changes or techniques to avoid losing sleep throughout the night. Reducing stress, eliminating alcohol and regular exercise are some of the methods to deploy if you want to beat insomnia.
Can Medications Help?
This medication is effective for reducing sleep latency, increasing the overall sleep time, as well as reducing nocturnal awakenings. Zopiclone is unable to reduce the total duration of rapid eye movement consistently, but it can delay the onset of rapid eye movement (7).
This medication can exhibit hypnotic effects with minimal myorelaxant. It is effective for reducing sleep latency and nocturnal awakenings.
The drug is effective for reducing time to sleep onset but ineffective in increasing the overall sleeping time or nocturnal awakenings. The recommended dosage of this drug is 5 to 10 mg daily.
Another alternative to curing insomnia is to try a nutritional supplement made from natural ingredients. When choosing a supplement, make sure to look for products which contain ingredients such as, Melatonin (8), lemon balm, valerian, chamomile and passion flower, as these are proven ingredients to combat insomnia.