Sleep is a necessary part of life. A number of mental or physical health complications can arise when you don’t get adequate sleep. According to numerous studies, adults need an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night but get a least an hour or two less than that. A common cause of sleeplessness is insomnia, and numerous things can induce it. Knowing the cause of your sleepless nights can help you and your doctor find the best treatment for it.
Chronic insomnia (lasting for a few months or years) is typically caused by a medical problem such as chronic pain, hyperthyroidism, or rheumatoid arthritis. Treating the underlying medical condition will, oftentimes, resolve the insomnia. In some cases, though, the insomnia may need to be treated independently.
Illicit Drug or Alcohol Use
A common misconception is that alcohol induces sleep. In reality, alcohol is a sleep disruptor. While it is true you will fall into unconsciousness after drinking, alcoholic substances prevent you from moving into deeper levels of sleep (like REM) and you will wake up feeling tired. Stimulant drugs like amphetamines increase blood pressure, heart rate, and neural activity which will keep you awake as long as the substance is active in your body.
Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol during detoxification can also cause acute or short-term insomnia.
Prescription or Over-the-Counter Drugs
Many prescription and over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy have side effects, of which insomnia is one. If you begin to experience sleepless nights after starting a new medication, chances are good that the medication is the problem. Sometimes the insomnia will pass after your body becomes accustomed to the medication. Other times, you may need to change medications or take a sleep aid to combat the effects of the drug.
Stress can lead to either acute or chronic insomnia depending on the stressor. Life events such as birth of a child or death of a loved one, mental or emotional tension, work issues, financial problems, and a host of other things that cause stress can also lead to the onset of insomnia. Making lifestyle changes to reduce stress oftentimes resolves an insomnia problem.
Several mental health problems can cause insomnia including depression, anxiety, mania, and schizophrenia. This may be due to chemical changes that occur in the brain that cause the disorder or be the result of dealing with the disorder. For example, a person suffering from depression may be unable to sleep because of an imbalance of chemicals in his or her brain that cause the depression or feelings of despair over his mood disorder.
Changes in hormones can upset the chemical balance in the body needed for sleep. This is why adolescents and menstruating, pregnant, and menopausal women all have a high risk of experiencing insomnia. Typically, the insomnia will pass when hormone levels normalize.
Disruptions in the circadian rhythm (jet lag, graveyard shift work), snoring sleep partners, parasomnias, exercising before bedtime, poor hygiene, and abuse of sleep aids can also lead to the onset of insomnia.
Treatment of Insomnia:
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