Insomnia, defined by the National Sleep Foundation, is "difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so." People who suffer from insomnia might struggle with falling asleep or might have difficulty staying asleep in the middle of the night. Also according to the National Sleep Foundation, about 1 in 3 individuals have at least mild insomnia.
There are many causes of insomnia that trigger sleeplessness. However, there are five major conditions that most frequently prompt troubled sleep.
Depression is a very common problem in today's society and impacts roughly 300 million people worldwide (Very Well Mind). Clinical depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes an individual to feel sad, worthless, and helpless.
When someone is diagnosed with clinical depression, he or she experiences feelings of hopelessness that ultimately interrupt sleep. Commonly, depressed individuals overthink and have minds that are on overdrive. They feel lost, out of control, and have anxieties and fears that interfere with slumber. Depression also frequently coincides with hormonal imbalances that make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
On a similar note, many people who have anxiety also have insomnia. Anxiety symptoms that contribute to sleepless nights include:
- Excessive worrying
- Feelings of agitation
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Muscle tension
- Panic attacks
Falling asleep may be difficult for a person diagnosed with anxiety due to the quiet that comes at night causing an individual to brood, contemplate, and obsess over their fears. This can trigger feelings of panic and dread. Many times, these emotions cause a vicious cycle of anxiety and insomnia feeding into each other.
In our fast-paced society, many individuals make life choices that impact their ability to achieve a full night's rest. Unhealthy habits create destructive sleeping patterns for millions of individuals worldwide.
For one, individuals who work late into the evening or work irregular hours are impacted by lack of sleep. If someone comes home late and doesn't have a chance to unwind, he or she may stay up past a normal bedtime to enjoy leisure time when he or she should be in bed. Additionally, those who work late or inconsistently have inconsistent internal clocks that can interrupt natural circadian rhythms.
Second, someone who makes a habit of taking daytime naps often fall victim to insomnia. Napping has been shown to interfere with the ability to fall asleep. This leads to erratic overall sleep and hinders an individual from achieving prolonged quality sleep.
Finally, if someone is used to taking a phone or computer into the bedroom, excessive exposure to screens have been shown to impact sleep. Lights from screens trick the body into thinking that the sun is still up and that it is time to stay awake. If a person is in the habit of looking at technological devices before bed, it is likely that he or she is sacrificing sleep.
The foods and drinks a person chooses to consume could be directly impacting their ability to fall and stay asleep. Some substances have a direct link in causing someone to experience difficult falling asleep or waking during the night. These include:
- Alcohol: A sedatitve that impacts brain activity and quality of sleep
- Caffeine: A stimulant that prompts people to stay alert and awake
- Nicotine: A stimulant that makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep
- Heavy or unhealthy meals: These cause discomfort or indigestion that leads to uncomfortable reactions such as heartburn
Other Medical Conditions
There are a variety of medical conditions that a person may have that make it difficult for him or her to fall and stay asleep. According to sleepfoundation.com, examples of common medical conditions that contribute to insomnia include:
- Sinus infections
- Endocrine disorders
- Neurological conditions
- Chronic pain
In addition to these conditions, medications taken for other disorders can make sleep difficult to achieve. Common medications that cause sleeplessness include medicine for allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression.
Insomnia may also be a side effect of other sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.
If you think that you may be at risk for insomnia or another sleep disorder impacting your quality of sleep, a consultation with a sleep specialist can help provide you with answers. A consultation at the Anchorage Sleep Center includes a comprehensive visit with a board certified sleep specialist, selection of diagnostic testing, and the development of an appropriate and effective treatment plan.
After receiving a consultation, a specialist will help you hone in on what causes may be preventing you from achieving a full night's rest. Common causes of insomnia such as the sources listed above may be to blame. A medical professional at the Anchorage Sleep Center can help narrow down the roots of your insomnia and what you can do to alleviate undesirable symptoms.
For more information, contact us to schedule a consultation or call (907) 743-0050.