Insomnia: Causes, Remedies and What You Need to Know
People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.
Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping—not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off.
- Difficulty falling asleep despite being tired
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Trouble getting back to sleep when awakened
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating during the day?
How long does insomnia last?
Insomnia may be characterized based on its duration. Acute insomnia is brief and often happens because of life circumstances (for example, when you can’t fall asleep the night before an exam, or after receiving stressful or bad news). Many people may have experienced this type of passing sleep disruption, and it tends to resolve without any treatment.
Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. Chronic insomnia disorders can have many causes. Changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, clinical disorders, and certain medications could lead to a long-term pattern of insufficient sleep. People with chronic insomnia may benefit from some form of treatment to help them get back to healthy sleep patterns. Chronic insomnia can be comorbid, meaning it is linked to another medical or psychiatric issue, although sometimes it’s difficult to understand this cause and effect relationship.
Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when the insomnia is tied to an obvious temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.
Common Causes of Insomnia
Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Having difficulty sleeping can also make anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include anger, worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.
Many medical conditions and diseases can contribute to insomnia, including asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancer. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia.
Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.
- Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime.
- Avoid naps.Napping during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night
- Stay active.Regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep
- Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol and don’t use nicotine.
- Avoid large meals and beverages before bed.
If insomnia is one of the symptoms of a medical disorder, treating the underlying problem may be all that you need. Your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills for short term or occasional use. Other remedies may be recommended depending on your physician’s assessment.