Insomnia is extremely common, but it is only rarely a primary diagnosis. More often than not, insomnia is a symptom of some other issue. While the symptoms of poor sleep are familiar to almost everyone, insomnia can have as many causes as it does patients. Find out the causes of insomnia below.
Treating your insomnia will require you to take on the role of a sleep detective to discover the causes. Easily changed habits such as caffeine consumption and sleep hygiene play a role. However, emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression cause half of all insomnia cases. Even worse, the lack of sleep can compound mental health issues, creating an ever-increasing feedback loop of insomnia and stress.
Insomnia sometimes lasts a few days before alleviating on its own, particularly when you can identify a temporary cause such as jet lag or workplace stress. However, chronic, persistent insomnia is usually related to some other, underlying issue.
• Medical problems: chronic pain, acid reflux, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, asthma and allergies, hyperthyroidism.
• Sleep disorders: restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, sleep apnea.
• Psychological/mental problems: chronic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder.
• Medications: corticosteroids, pain relievers with caffeine (such as Midol or Excedrin), antidepressants, cold medications with alcohol (such as NyQuil), thyroid hormone, diuretics, blood pressure medications.
This should not be considered a comprehensive list; there are many other possibilities. Check with your doctor or other health care provider for help determining your personal causes of insomnia if need be.
Even though treating underlying issues and causes of insomnia is a good start, it may not eliminate your insomnia. Take a look at your daily sleep habits. Some things that seem helpful in the short term can actually worsen your insomnia long term. For example, using alcohol or sleeping pills to fall asleep can cause dependence and disrupt sleep even more over time. Consuming excessive coffee or energy drinks to stay awake during the day make it harder to fall asleep later. Watching TV or playing computer games before bed can make it more difficult to relax and sleep.
Sleep diaries have been helpful to many insomnia patients who wish to identify bad sleep habits. Keep track of things like the times you go to bed and get up, what you eat and drink and what time you eat and drink it, and stress-causing events during your day. Once you identify potential causes of insomnia that stem from your habits, it’s time to eliminate them. It takes some effort, but the relief of a good night’s sleep is worth it – why not take a look at my page that discusses the various treatments for insomnia?.
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