Sleep is one of the important processes that help in replenishing and rejuvenating the body after a tiring day. Most people do not know how essential sleep is for overall health and so, they don’t pay much heed to it. This makes them susceptible to sleep disorders like Insomnia. This is a condition where one does not get sleep despite many attempts to doze off. Besides, you may be waking up early in the middle of the night and won’t be able to sleep again. Insomnia not only affects your sleep cycle but your entire body. Many important processes get affected if you don’t get proper sleep. You will feel tired all day, you won’t be able to do energetic activities, your mood would remain disrupted throughout the day, you would lack focus and concentration, etc. Sadly, most people do not even know that they are insomniac which increases the risk of them catching other health disorders. Thus, insomnia needs to be addressed.
Insomnia condition can be prevented if a person gets a restful sleep of 6-8 hours a day. Sleep time varies with age as children may need more sleep whereas adults need less and older adults are not able to sleep properly. Also, there are different types of insomnia ranging from acute to chronic. Acute insomnia results from stress and trauma that lasts for one some days or maybe a week. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, lasts for several weeks or maybe months that can be caused due to various reasons including existing medical conditions. While medications can be taken to treat insomnia, they should be prevented as much as possible. One should try to tackle insomnia naturally which is possible by practising certain steps. In this section, you will get to know all the insomnia-related information.
Here is the list of insomnia symptoms to watch out for:
Problem falling asleep at night
Waking up in the middle of the night
Poor sleep of 2-3 hours daily
Sleepiness through the day or daytime sleepiness
Feeling low on energy during the day
Irritable mood, stress, anxiety and depression
Not feeling well-rested after sleep
Problem in focus and concentration
Sometimes it is all due to stress as your mind is unable to function properly and so, it disrupts the sleep-wake cycle making you a sufferer of insomnia. If you experience a couple of these symptoms for a longer time, you must consult a doctor to get yourself checked for a sleep disorder.
Insomnia could be a primary issue which or that could be a symptom of any underlying chronic issue. Many conditions cause insomnia. Sometimes insomnia lasts for only a week but in some cases, it could stay for more than a year. Here are some possible causes of chronic insomnia:
Stress- If your mind is too much occupied with stressors such as work stress, personal life problems, trauma, emotional breakdown, etc. you can get insomnia.
Changes in circadian rhythm- If your sleep-wake cycle gets disrupted due to either reason be it travelling to different time zone, working in changing shifts, etc. This causes many changes in the body and you are highly likely to suffer from sleep problems or insomnia due to this.
Poor sleep habits- There are so many reasons why you might not be getting sleep which has to do with your sleep routine. We see a lot of people surfing on their phones, watching movies, Netflix, playing games on bed, etc. All of these activities are triggers of insomnia as they interfere with your sleep timings. This is why it is suggested to stop doing any activity when you are about to sleep.
Heavy dinner- If you have had a heavy dinner, it could be restricting you from sleeping. You are physically heavy and the food hasn’t digested by the time you are off to sleep. In such cases, people may also experience discomfort, heartburn, acidity, etc.
Several other reasons including taking certain medications or drugs for chronic ailments might also be restricting your system to fall asleep. Other additional causes of insomnia are:
Mental health issues- Anxiety, stress disorders, depression, etc. are some factors related to mental and psychological health that can disrupt your sleep.
Medications- Several prescription drugs given for medical conditions with high doses can also cause insomnia. Some over-the-counter medicines also disrupt sleep as these contain stimulants to keep your brain active.
Sleep disorders- Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can get triggered by other sleep disorders. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, bedwetting, etc. are some sleep disorders that mostly cause insomnia.
Chronic diseases- overactive thyroid, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, heart condition, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are some conditions that are linked with insomnia.
Caffeine addiction- People who are addicted to caffeine, soda, cold drinks, alcohol, nicotine, etc. tend to suffer from sleepless nights. Caffeine inhibits sleeping which is why people consume it in order to stay awake and focused. All these are dangerous for health.
Age- You would see old-age people not getting enough sleeping. This is because insomnia and aging are linked to each other. With advancing age, the internal clock or circadian rhythm also advances. Thus, senior citizens are not able to sleep properly. Another reason is health issues in them which are hampering their sleep schedule. Physical inactivity is the third reason why they are not finding enough sleep.
Sleepless nights are normal as anyone at any point in time may have sleepless nights but insomnia is not normal. Here are some risk factors that make a person susceptible to insomnia:
Hormonal fluctuations- Women undergo hormonal changes in many phases of their lives. Particularly, during menopause, they experience episodes of insomnia because of hot flashes, night sweats, etc.
Elderly(people aged 60 years and above)- As explained earlier as well, old age people are at greater risk of insomnia because of the changes in their physical and psychological health. If they have existing physical and mental health conditions, they are more prone to getting insomnia.
People with mental health disorders
Chronic stress- This is one of the biggest risk factors for insomnia. When you are stressed, you tend to overthink and that engages your brain. Thus, your brain is unable to rest making you stay awake.
There are various health complications related to insomnia. Since sleep is imperative, poor sleep can hamper many other functions. Physical and mental health problems may arise due to insomnia and affect the quality of life. You would experience poor performance at work; slow reaction time due to lack of focus increased chances of mental or psychological health issues such as depression, anxiety, hypertension, heart diseases, to name but a few. Poor sleep can also affect your skin and hair health wherein you’d get dark circles, wrinkles, hair loss, hair fall and also pattern baldness.
Since the major cause of insomnia is poor sleep, you need to promote sleep to ward off insomnia. Only good sleep habits can bring you sound sleep. Here are some suggestions:
Make a routine and try to set up a sleep time and wake time according to your schedule. The body gets accustomed to any schedule in some days and then it will help you.
Stay physically active throughout the day. If not, go for a walk after your last meal to digest the food. That will also promote a sound night’s sleep.
Limit your naps. A lot of people sleep in the afternoon and then they find it difficult to catch sleep at night. So, limit or avoid naps.
Do not consume a lot of caffeine if you are experiencing sleep troubles. Specifically, avoid caffeine consumption at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Use sleep lights or infused candles to make your bedroom comfortable and cozy to fall asleep faster.