Do you toss and turn at night, even after a tiring day? Do you always check the clock at night, wondering how long you will finally doze off?
Chances are, you have insomnia.
This sleep problem does not depend on how long you sleep, or how fast you doze off. It is defined by how well you sleep, and how you feel after.
If you feel relaxed and refreshed upon waking up, insomnia is not a problem for you. But if you feel low, irritable and tired, you may be suffering from this problem, and need to learn about insomnia causes and solutions.
Types of Insomnia
Insomnia comes in two forms:
- Short-term insomnia lingers for three months and is found in 15 to 20% of the population.
- Chronic insomnia happens for a minimum of three times a week and stays for at least three months. Around 10% of the population experience this. Chronic insomnia can lead to grave health problems.
Insomnia does not exist in a vacuum. It is a sign of an underlying problem. This is why insomnia causes and solutions vary from one person to the next.
The effect of insomnia also differs from person to person. Some may have memory lapses. Others may go through mood swings, difficulty in concentrating and depression. Insomnia also raises your risk for obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
Heart disease is another possible offshoot of insomnia.
How Common is Insomnia?
This sleep disorder is seen in 30 to 35% of adults
Research published in 2018 shows that 6 in 10 adults all over the world have a sleep-related medical issue. Insomnia is one of these medical issues.
The Philippines has one of the highest sleep deprivation rates worldwide. Health Grade Inc. statistics in 2014 show that over 10 million adults have insomnia in the Philippines.
Insomnia is more prevalent among the:
- Stressed individuals
- Those with physical and mental issues like depression
- People who take prescription drugs
- Workers in late night shifts
- Travelers grappling with jetlag
Insomnia Causes and Solutions
This sleep problem may be due to:
- Emotional causes like anxiety, stress, depression, anger, worry, grief, bipolar problems, and trauma
- Medical issues like allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, chronic pain and cancer.
- Prescription medication like antidepressants, ADHD stimulants, corticosteroids, thyroid hormones, high blood pressure medicines, and contraceptives.
- Over-the-counter medicines like cold and flu medications with alcohol, pain relievers with caffeine, diuretics, and slimming pills.
- Lifestyle habits, including drinking too much coffee, irregular sleeping time and nap times, sugar-rich foods, heavy meals before bedtime, being sedentary throughout most of the day, an uncomfortable bed or light in the bedroom, working in the evening, smoking and exercising late at night.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
When it comes to addressing insomnia causes and solutions, there are things you can do at home to help yourself. Sleep experts recommend:
- Drinking warm milk, which has tryptophan, the building block of serotonin associated with the sleep-wake transition
- Having some chamomile tea, which has flavonoids that act with the brain’s benzodiazepine receptors during a sleep-wake transition
- Drinking tart cherry juice for the production of melatonin and the promotion of a good sleep cycle
- Mild aerobics to increase the level of nourishing slow wave for sleep
- Taking melatonin supplements that mimic the hormone the brain releases hours before we feel sleepy
- A cool and comfortable temperature to lull you to sleep
- A dark bedroom or sleeping area, no smartphones, fluorescent lights or light bulbs to keep you up at night
- Setting a routine – try sleeping and waking up around the same time every day
- Less or no naptimes. If you cannot help it, take a nap for a maximum of 30 minutes only. Do not do it after 3 pm.
- Avoid or stay away from caffeine and alcohol, which make it hard for you to doze off
- Do not smoke
- Stop enduring pain. Talk to your doctor instead of letting the pain keep you up at night
- Do not eat a lot and take beverages before bedtime
- Relax by taking a warm shower, having a soothing massage, listening to slow music, reading, praying and having breathing exercise before going to bed
- Do not force yourself to sleep. This will make it harder for you to do so. Get out of bed, and come back when you’re sleepy.
Insomnia causes and solutions are as varied as the people who need them. With these strategies, the sleep-deprived can learn how to deal with insomnia causes and solutions, and get the sleep necessary for good health.
How is insomnia treated?
After determining insomnia causes and solutions, treatment comes next.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), administered by a psychologist, psychiatrist or a trained health practitioner, lets you control or get rid of negative thoughts and actions that keep you up at night. As the first line of treatment for insomniacs, CBT-I is just as effective, if not better, than sleep medications.
Strategies under this form of treatment include:
- Stimulus control, which teaches patients to use their bed and bedroom only for sleep and sex. Insomniacs are urged to go to another room and have a relaxing activity until they get sleepy and are prepared to go to bed.
- Cognitive therapy, which aids insomniacs in correcting habits that lead to the sleep disorder.
- Relaxation training, which decreases tension and gives strategies to ease the muscles.
Sleeping pills which are taken a few nights or weeks may also treat insomnia. Be careful to get your health practitioner’s go signal first. Call your doctor at once if you feel side effects.
What increases my risk for insomnia?
You raise your risk for insomnia if you:
- Take sleeping pills or alcohol to go to sleep, a habit that causes long-term disturbance of the sleep cycle
- Drink too much coffee in the daytime
- Change your sleep schedule regularly
- Take a nap during the day
- Eat sugar-rich food
- Take heavy meals around bedtime
- Lack exercise
- Exercise late
- Work from home at night
Signs and Symptoms
The common symptoms of insomnia are:
- Experiencing difficulty when trying to sleep
- Waking up in the middle of the night, or too early in the morning
- Still feeling tired upon waking up
- Fatigue throughout the day
- Sleepiness during the daytime
- Moodiness, irritability, or anxiety
- Problems with focusing on activities during daytime, including making errors and mistakes
- Problems with memory
- Concerns about sleep
Having these symptoms may necessitate learning about insomnia causes and solutions.
When should I see my doctor?
When should I see the doctor for insomnia causes and solutions?
Set an appointment if:
- It’s hard for you to sleep most of the time
- You feel exhausted during daytime, even if you slept a minimum of seven hours the previous night
- You are not as efficient as you should be during daytime
- Your bouts with insomnia last over four weeks
- Sleep-inducing prescriptions fail
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is insomnia diagnosed?
To determine insomnia causes and solutions, the doctor will use the following diagnostic tools:
- A physical test is typically done to look for symptoms of insomnia-related medical issues. The doctor may ask for a blood test to rule out thyroid issues and other conditions linked to insomnia.
- A review of sleep habits. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your sleep-wake pattern and daytime sleepiness. He or she may also ask you to keep a sleep diary.
- Sleep study. If the reason for your problem is not clear, or you show symptoms of another disorder like sleep apnea, you may be asked to stay overnight in a sleep center. You will undergo tests that study your body while sleeping.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.