Sleeplessness or sleep deprivation is real torture. Known as insomnia is medical terms, not getting adequate sleep is detrimental to anybody’s overall physical and mental well-being. In addition to severely harming our physical health, it also damages our psyche. If you see anyone ‘cranky’ in the morning, it’s probably they had a restless and sleepless night and spent the entire night lying in their beds, tossing and turning underneath their bedsheets, and tossing their pillows on the other side of their rooms out of frustration.
What Is A Sleep Disorder Or Sleep Problem?
Generally, a sleep disorder is a condition that inhibits a person’s ability to get enough quality sleep. Typically, sleeping disorders are caused by excessive stress, illness, jet lag, travel, or other events that disrupt our regular sleeping routine. Many of us occasionally experience sleeping problems, but it only becomes a significant health issue if it becomes frequent. However, if you frequently have difficulties getting to sleep at night, wake up feeling tired or exhausted, feel drowsy or sleep during the day, feeling lethargic during daytime—you may have a sleep disorder. We don’t need to tell you about the harmful effects of lack of adequate sleep on your health because we know you’re already stressing about it.
Sleep plays a vital role in regulating our cortisol levels, making us more physically and mentally resilient. Furthermore, it also helps in regulating our metabolism, which is essential to maintain a healthy diet. Your mood, energy, and stress levels will all be adversely affected if you’re deprived of quality sleep for a long time. Ignoring insomnia and other sleep disorders may lead to weight gain, memory problems, cognitive disorders, disorderly behaviors, diminished job performance, car accidents, and strained relationships.
Therefore, if you want to have a healthy life, improve your job performance, and, most importantly, lead a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle, don’t ignore your sleeping problems. After all, quality, restful sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
Do You Have Insomnia Or Sleep Disorders?
So what the main symptoms of insomnia? The most noticeable signs are:
- Finding it difficult to fall asleep despite being tired
- Waking up unexpectedly and frequently at night
- Difficulty falling asleep when awakened.
- Feeling tired or lethargic even after sleep
- Restless sleep.
- Taking prescription drugs or sleeping pills before going to bed
- Consuming alcohol to fall asleep
- Feeling sleepy, exhausted, and tired at daytime
- Waking up too early in the morning.
- Daytime irritability
- Lack of focus and concentration during the day
If you have few or almost all of these symptoms for some time, it’s time you visit a doctor or a sleeping expert to help you diagnose your sleep disorder and improve your sleep.
What Causes Insomnia?
Now that we highlighted the underlying causes of sleep disorders let’s figure out why you can’t sleep. Prior to approaching a doctor or sleeping expert to improve your sleep, you need to find why you can have a restful sleep. When identifying the root causes of insomnia, various studies show overthinking, depression, mental stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues contribute to half of all insomnia cases. Besides, sleep disorders can also cause various habits and physical health problems.
The following questions will help you to ascertain all possible reasons for your insomnia.
- Are you experiencing a lot of stress?
- Are you struggling with depression?
- Do you feel hopeless?
- Are you emotionally unavailable or feeling flat?
- Are you in a constant state of worry or anxiety?
- Have you recently experienced any traumatic events like the death of a loved one or a horrific accident?
- Are you taking any prescription drugs or medications that are affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any pre-existing health conditions or illnesses that may be interfering with your sleep?
- Do you have any current health problems?
- Is your bed mattress, pillows, or bunk bed mattress comfortable?
- Is your bedroom comfortable and quiet?
- Is your bedroom dark enough for you to sleep?
- Do you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most or all of these questions, it’s highly likely that you’re experiencing insomnia or another form of acute sleep disorder.
Psychological And Medical Causes Of Insomnia
If the primary causes of your sleep disorders stem from temporary causes like overthinking about your new career prospects, jet lag, stress over an upcoming exam or interview, stage fright, or a painful breakup—insomnia usually lasts for a few days and goes away on its own. However, chronic insomnia is tenaciously persistent, and unless it is dealt with medically, it won’t go away.
1. Depression, anxiety, and stress
Usually, chronic insomnia is caused by underlying mental or physical issues. Depression, anxiety, and stress are considered as primary factors to chronic insomnia. Not having enough sleep or having difficulty falling asleep will exacerbate the symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. Other common psychological and emotional causes of sleeping problems are excessive worrying, anger, trauma, grief, and bipolar disorder. If you’re serious about resolving your trauma, it’s crucial you treat these underlying problems as well.
2. Medical problems or diseases
Pre-existing and current medical conditions and illnesses can contribute to insomnia. Many people who have insomnia reportedly have allergies, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer, acid reflux, and kidney diseases.
Various prescription medicines and drugs can interfere with your sleeping habits. Antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, thyroid hormone drugs, contraceptives, stimulants for ADHD, and corticosteroids are reported to cause some form of sleeping problems in users. Some common over-the-counter medications with caffeine and alcohol, such as various cold and flu medicines, pain relievers, slimming pills, weight-loss pills, and diuretics, can also interfere with your sleep.
4. Sleep disorders
You may not know this, but insomnia in itself is a sleep disorder. Your insomnia may be associated with other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, sleepwalking, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythm disturbances. The latter is linked with jet-lag and late-night shift workers.
Habits That Causes Insomnia And Sleep Disruptions
It’s commendable to treat your underlying physical and mental issues to resolve your insomnia and other related sleep disorders, but it may not be enough. You also identify your daily habits and lifestyle that may interfere with your sleep. There may be a chance that some of the things you may be doing out of habit make your insomnia worse.
Take alcohol or sleeping pills, for example. Maybe you’re drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills to fall asleep. These may help you sleep now, but they will disrupt your normal sleeping patterns over the long term. Then there is something most think is pretty trivial, like coffee. Sure, drinking a cup or two is fine, but drinking excessive amounts of coffee in the day or night will make it difficult for you to fall asleep later.
Other daytime habits that negatively impact your sleep include not maintaining a regular sleep routine, taking too many naps, indulging in sugary foods and drinks, having heavy meals before bedtime, not getting enough exercise, or working out too close to your bedtime will all hinder your ability to get a restful, refreshing sleep. Your poor daytime habits will not only aggravate your insomnia; a poor night’s sleep will make it tougher to rectify or change these habits, ultimately creating a vicious cycle of sleeplessness.
Changing these habits will help you a lot in overcoming sleeplessness and insomnia altogether. Yes, it will take a few days or weeks for your body to adapt to this change, but once you do, it will get easier and better for you to sleep better and have a refreshing sleep.