Insomnia comes from the Latin words for ‘no sleep’ and it’s one of the most commonly overlooked health problems today. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research, up to 40% of the population experiences signs of insomnia every year.
In broad terms insomnia is defined as difficulty in staying or falling asleep. Individuals who have insomnia may suffer from sleeplessness and other types of sleep disorders. Insomnia may be classed as a sleep disorder in its own right, but often it’s a symptom of some other underlying health condition or disease.
There can be many triggers for insomnia like psychiatric problems, substance or drug misuse, stressful events, or underlying health problems. Here’s a rundown of 8 common causes of sleepless nights.
Many people experience trouble coping with their everyday lives, leaving them feeling helpless, tensed, afraid, uncertain or worried. These feelings may be triggered by relationship problems, social stress or financial worries. When it’s time to go to sleep, these anxious feelings are one of the main causes of sleepless nights and insomnia.
Pharmaceutical drugs alter the way the body functions and can often interfere with your sleep. If you’re taking any type of medication including blood pressure and heart medicines, antidepressants, stimulants, corticosteroids or allergy medicines, there’s a good chance that you may experience some sleep problems.
As well as prescription medicines, over the counter remedies, such as weight loss products, decongestants, and even some herbs for sleep can also disturb your sleep.
3) Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, most commonly found in coffee, soda and energy drinks. Having a coffee too late in the afternoon can keep you awake for longer time.
Nicotine, found in cigarettes and tobacco products is another stimulant that can cause insomnia. Smoking late at night can have a negative effect on your sleep patterns.
Mixing alcohol and sleep is not a good idea. Although alcohol works as a sedative and may help you to fall asleep, it messes with your sleep cycle and can prevent the deep stages of your sleep and also cause you to wake in mid night.
Stress can be a part of daily routine due to concerns about school, work, family or health. These conditions may keep your mind in active mode during night also and make you to awake. Stressful situations like losing your job, illness, divorce or bereavement can also result into insomnia.
Most people who suffer from depression experience sleep problems, but the relationship between insomnia and depressive illness is complex. In some cases depression causes insomnia, whilst in others, sleep problems contribute to depressive disorders.
6) Health problems
Some underlying health problems are also known to cause insomnia. These may include respiratory disease, hormone problems, heart disease, neurological disease, muscle or joint problems, chronic pain, headache, and problems with urinary or genital organs.
7 ) Changes in your schedule
Working or travelling early or late shifts may disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and make it difficult to fall asleep. Our circadian rhythm works like an internal clock which helps regulate your sleep and wake cycle, as well as influencing your body temperature and metabolic function.
8) Getting old
Getting older brings about changes in our sleeping patterns. Whilst this may not necessarily cause insomnia, the elderly are also more likely to experience health problems, anxiety and be taking medications. All these factors can contribute to insomnia.