As most of us are already aware, Insomnia or sleep deprivation is a disorder which causes difficulty sleeping and plays havoc with our health and general well-being.
There are several reasons that can cause insomnia. It can be a mild to acute chronic sleep disorder. Insomnia can affect any age group however it gets worse with aging and people suffering with chronic illnesses are usually more prone to it.
There are three types of Insomnia; transient, short and long term or chronic insomnia.
Insomnia lasting for a week or less is transient and it is short term insomnia if it lasts for less than three weeks. Chronic insomnia lasts for over a month and requires medical attention to avoid serious effects on health.
Then we have depression, anxiety and stress – stress or anxiety cause and worsen the insomnia.
8 Reasons that can cause Insomnia:
Can cause severe chemical imbalance in the brain causing insomnia. Insomnia is often considered as one of the symptoms of depression as well.
Stress, anxiety or depression can be caused by work, lifestyle or even sudden loss of a loved one. There are several anti-depressants and other medications available to curb stress, anxiety and depression, however consult with your doctor before using any medication to avoid serious complications.
Mid-life crisis, change in school, loss of job, divorce and many other reasons all add to depression causing insomnia. Working on a computer for long hours may cause a burning sensation in the eyes, headache, neck-ache and backache which can also result in insomnia.
2. Medical conditions
A chronic or acute medical condition is one of the most common reasons for insomnia.
Illness like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, acid reflux, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, asthma, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease can cause acute insomnia.
Also, medical conditions causing severe pain, injury, difficulty breathing or frequent urination can result in acute insomnia.
Restless leg syndrome is a common reason causing insomnia as well. Restless leg syndrome can cause severe discomfort in legs and other body parts causing insomnia. Trauma causing nightmares, anxiety or sleep walking can result in insomnia as well.
Many medications like anti-depressants, weight loss pills, blood pressure or heart disease medications contain strong stimulants can all cause insomnia.
Anti-allergy medications or Antihistamines can cause severe urinary problems resulting in insomnia too. Many medications cause a dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, chest pain, heartburn or other side effects may also cause insomnia.
Consult with your doctor if sleep disorder surfaces with new medication or by a change in the dosage of a current medication. Your Doctor may alter the dosage or may even suggest discontinuing the medication to cure the insomnia.
4. Alcohol and substance abuse
Alcohol, medications and medication or substance abuse can cause serious insomnia. Alcohol and sedatives may cause drowsiness however they can cause disruption or waking up in the middle of the night.
Sometimes, withdrawal from alcohol or medication can cause insomnia as well.
5. Caffeine and other stimulants
Consumption of caffeine just before bedtime can cause difficulty in falling asleep. Also, high sugar intake before bedtime can cause frequent urination and difficulty falling asleep.
Reduce your consumption of caffeine and especially avoid it before bedtime for a good nights sleep. I avoid drinking coffee after 3pm in the afternoon or if I do have one I make it a decaf.
6. Poor sleep hygiene
Maintaining poor sleep hygiene like irregular sleep times, sleeping in a bright bedroom, uncomfortable bed, noise, too warm or too cold a temperature of the bedroom and iPhones can all cause difficulty sleeping or insomnia.
Also, consuming a heavy meal or overeating before bedtime, travel, jet lag or changes in your work schedule can cause both short-term and acute insomnia.
7. Ageing and Lack of Exercise
Sleep disorders or insomnia worsens with ageing.
Lack of physical activity (especially from too much sitting), poor health, medications and stress with ageing all cause insomnia.
Age related insomnia is a very common disorder and can affect any gender.
8. Hormonal changes
Changes in the hormone levels especially during menopause cause hot flashes and insomnia as well. It is a common sleep disorder in menopausal and even pregnant women. Hormonal changes during periods cause insomnia in women as well.
Short-term or transient insomnia often disappears on its own however long-term insomnia requires immediate medical attention. Chronic insomnia can cause serious adverse effects on the proper functioning of your body so if you are having problems sleeping make sure you see your Doctor and get something done about it.
Insomnia requires a professional diagnosis to cure the underlying causes. Changes in your lifestyle and diet like maintaining good sleep hygiene, regular exercise, consuming light meals and avoidance of alcohol or caffeine before bedtime can all help cure your insomnia problem.
The other growing cause I haven’t really touched on is the strong relationship between poor and irregular sleep patterns and obesity, including lack of exercise, as documented by Dr. Joseph Ojile who is head of the Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis.
I have also observed figures from the National Sleep Foundation that some 75% of Americans have sleeping difficulties so this may well be related to the fact that now over 60% of people in the USA are considered to be overweight.
There are numerous studies worldwide linking insomnia and obesity so you may be interested to read more on How Insomnia can make you FAT.
Hope this goes some way to helping you get a good nights sleep.
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
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