I likely share many of your experiences with insufficient sleep and insomnia. This issue dominated my life in many ways for a significant period of time. Ultimately, I did find relief, practical and effective solutions to addressing my sleep issues.The first step on my journey to address sleep-related issues was coming to a better understanding of the what causes insomnia. I learned that there are multiple potential underlying reasons for what causes sleepless nights.
Definition of Insomnia
Insomnia is considered the most common of all sleep disorders, according to the highly regarded John Hopkins Hospital Sleep Disorders Clinic. Insomnia is defined as a recurrent, potentially three-fold problem. Insomnia is exhibited as an inability, on a regular basis, to fall asleep, maintain sleep, or wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are two common underlying causes for sleep issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. The reality is that life in this day and age is highly stressful for many people. Anxiety exhibited in daily life is commonplace as well.
You may find yourself perpetually stressed out and anxious because of the state of your own life and affairs. These problems may not only be the root causes of your sleep issues but may create a vicious circle in your life. The less you sleep, the more stressed and anxious you become. The more stressed and anxious you become, the less you sleep.
In order to establish better sleep, those issues that cause you stress and anxiety need to be addressed. If your anxiety of more profound, your doctor may prescribe some type of treatment for that issue.
The Mayo Clinic also reports that depression is another primary cause of insomnia and other sleep issues. If you are suffering from depression, you very well may find it difficult to obtain a decent, healthy night’s sleep.
If depression is the cause of your sleep disorder, it likely needs to be addressed in some manner before you will be able to get a handle on establishing healthier sleep patterns. In other words, with proper treatment for depression, your sleep issues may resolve.
As an aside, other mental health disorders can distort sleep patterns. Bipolar disorder is one other example of a mental health issue that impacts healthy sleep patterns for many individuals with that diagnosis.
Eating and Drinking Habits
I learned early on in my own struggles with sleep problems that eating and drinking habits can have a big impact on insomnia and other disorders. One of the biggest food and beverage related culprits is coffee, followed closely by caffeinated soda.
Many people draw a caffeine consumption line in the early evening. For most people, that just is not good enough if caffeine is at the root of an inability so sleep well at night. If you think this is your issue, you need to knock off drinking caffeinated beverages in the latter part of the afternoon, perhaps even a bit earlier, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Alcohol is another beverage that contributes to sleep issues. I am not talking about going out on a bender and not getting to bed until late into the night. Rather, I am speaking about those people who think an alcoholic nightcap will assist in sleeping. If you take that approach with the idea of getting a better night’s sleep, you’re not alone. You are also not helping yourself in the grand scheme of things, as Mayo Clinic research reveals.
Alcohol can assist some people in falling asleep faster, provided it is a moderate amount. However, alcohol also impairs a person’s ability to have healthy sleep cycles. In addition, an individual who does the nightcap bit is likely to wake up in the middle of the night and have problems returning to sleep.
A cookie and a spot of milk may be okay for some people before bedtime, but care must also be taken to what is eaten if you are suffering from insomnia or another sleep issue. You must avoid eating a meal too late at night. You need to make sure there is ample time between dinner and bedtime if you want to ensure a healthy night’s sleep.
The space between dinner and bedtime should be at least two to three hours. Interrupted sleep is not the only issue associated with a late meal. You also have less opportunity to burn off calories from a meal consumed too close to bedtime.
Stanford University researchers have done extensive work on the issue of sleep problems. A common cause of sleep disorders are environmental factors, but some that you may not have thought about.
Certainly, persistent external noises like traffic outside your home, recurring ruckus from the folk’s next door, and the like can end up causing you to suffer consistent sleep-related problems. However, there are other environmental issues that may impact your ability to enjoy a restful night and healthy sleep.
The temperature of your room may be playing a role. If you are having problems sleeping, and keep your room quite warm at night, tone it down. Researchers suggest that rooms on the cooler side provide a better environment for healthy sleep. Set the thermostat to about 65 degrees (around 18.5 °C) and see if that may assist in having a restful night.
Smells matter. Keeping the air in the bedroom fresh is essential to a good night’s sleep. Often, bedrooms are closed off, and the air becomes stagnant. Keep bedroom doors open during the day, open windows to let fresh air in whenever weather permits.
Yes, scented candles can be soothing. But, take care that the scent of them does not become overwhelming and defeat the intended purpose of the candle.
Clean sheets and bed linen is also a must for a good night’s sleep and addressing insomnia for many people. If you are one of those many individuals who is a bit lazy in tending to your bedding, reverse that practice. Make sure you regularly change your sheets and bed linen.
On a serious note, insomnia and other types of sleep disorders can be a warning sign or symptom of some other kind of medical condition. If you suddenly find yourself with a sleep-related issue that is new to you, and that seems to have come out of the blue, make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
Even serious medical problems have a better chance for effective treatment when they are diagnosed sooner rather than later. Moreover, a sleep issue associated with a medical condition typically is best treated by addressing that underlying health problem.
In summary, you truly are not alone if you suffer from insomnia or some other type of sleep disorder. I have been where you are. There were many nights’s when I thought my situation was hopeless, or very close to being so.
Eventually, I developed a strategy to address my sleep-related issues. In time, I prevailed and now enjoy a healthy night’s rest and a far more productive and happy life during the day.
Keep in mind some very basic steps you can take to begin to address your own problem with insomnia or a sleep disorder:
- Identify causes for sleeplessness.
- Address underlying reasons why these causes may exist in the first place.
- Initiate strategies to address these issues.
- Seek professional assistance as needed.
Have more tips to fight sleeplessness and insomnia? Share with us in comments.