Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired. The result is poor-quality sleep that doesn’t leave you feeling refreshed when you wake up.
Causes of short-term insomnia
- Jet lag
- Changes in shift work
- Excessive or unpleasant noise
- Uncomfortable room temperature (too hot or too cold)
- Stressful situations in life (exam preparation, loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, or separation)
- Presence of an acute medical or surgical illness or hospitalization
- Withdrawal from drug, alcohol, sedative, or stimulant medications
- Uncontrolled physical symptoms (pain, fever, breathing problems, nasal congestion, cough, diarrhea, etc.) can also cause someone to have insomnia. Controlling these symptoms and their underlying causes may lead to resolution of insomnia.
Causes of Chronic or Long-Term Insomnia
The majority of causes of chronic or long-term insomnia are usually linked to an underlying psychiatric or physiologic (medical) conditions like;
Psychological Causes of Insomnia include; anxiety, depression, stress (mental, emotional, situational, etc), schizophrenia, and ormania (bipolar disorder).
Insomnia may be an indicator of depression. Many people will have insomnia during the acute phases of a mental illness.
Physiological causes of Insomniaspan from circadian rhythm disorders i.e. disturbance of the biological clock, sleep-wake imbalance, to a variety of medical conditions that trigger insomnia like; Chronic pain syndromes, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Congestive heart failure, Night time angina (chest pain) from heart disease, Acid reflux disease (GERD, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Nocturnal asthma (asthma with night time breathing symptoms), Obstructive sleep apnea, Degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (Often insomnia is the deciding factor for nursing home placement.), Brain tumors, strokes, or trauma to the brain
Medication Related Insomniawhere certain medications have also been associated with insomnia.
- Some over-the-counter cold and asthma preparations and prescription varieties of these medications may also contain stimulants and thus produce similar effects on sleep.
- Some medications used to treat high blood pressure have also been associated with poor sleep.
- Some medications used to treat depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Other Causes of Insomnia
- Common stimulants associated with poor sleep include caffeine and nicotine that should be restricted during the day and specifically in the hours immediately before bedtime.
- People often use alcohol to help induce sleep, as a nightcap. However, it is a poor choice. Alcohol is associated with sleep disruption and creates a sense of non-refreshed sleep in the morning.
- A disruptive bed partner with loud snoring or periodic leg movements also may impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- Get the right mattress for your needs
- Avoid using the bed for watching TV, working etc. Use it for sleep, sex and only reading pleasure books
- If you are reconditioned by associating your bed with no sleep, get out of the bed and move to another room.
- Establish a regular sleep-wake cycle by making the body set its internal clock to your schedule e.g. get up at the same time every morning, even weekends.
- Don’t take afternoon naps as these will make it hard for you to obtain sleep at night. Extra sleep on weekends can also destabilize your sleep schedule during the following week.
- Limit the consumption of caffeine – includes chocolate, cocoa, colas…
- Limit drinking alcohol and smoking as these can disrupt sleep patterns and/or worsen insomnia
- Exercise during the day
- Eat lightly before bed.
- Establish a ritual before going to bed that disrupts you from troublesome thoughts e.g. read, listen to music or watch a pleasant movie.