- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Insomnia Symptoms Causes Remedies Cures
Insomnia Symptoms, Causes, Remedies, and Cures
Can't sleep? Having trouble falling asleep? Waking up in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep? You may be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia affects untold numbers of people each night, depriving them of the restful sleep they need to recharge their minds and bodies. Insomnia can be an occasional problem but for many it is an unfortunate and regular occurrence. The resulting sleep deprivation can have negative physical and mental consequences. Insomnia can lead to accidents due to physical and mental impairments brought on by interrupted sleep and may lead to further illness and injury due to prolonged lack of deep, restful and regular sleep. Perhaps everyone has experienced insomnia at one time of their life or another yet returned to normal a sleep pattern with little or no difficulty. However, for many others, insomnia is a frequent, unwelcome barrier to a good night's rest. The desire to fall asleep fast, to stay asleep long enough to have REM sleep and feel rested in the morning, is an elusive goal for far too many. Making matters worse, when you can't sleep due to insomnia, the anxiety of the situation can make it even harder to eventually relax and fall asleep. Insomniacs know all too well the negative feelings and results of another night of sleep deprivation and restlessness. It is a very poor experience to be physically exhausted and in need of rest but to be unable to fall asleep or to stay asleep due to insomnia. Let's look at some of the symptoms, causes, effects, remedies, and treatments for insomnia, in hopes of helping the sleep deprived achieve the goal of a restful night's sleep.
Insomnia Effects and Dangers
In addition to leaving you tired and irritable, insomnia can also present other effects and potential dangers. Sleep deprivation caused by insomnia can lead to physical and mental impairment. The dangers resulting from impairment caused by inability to sleep can include reduced alertness and cognitive ability which can cause accidents in the workplace, in the home, or on the road. There is speculation that many auto accidents may be attributed to sleep-deprived drivers either falling asleep at the wheel, or not being alert enough to avoid an accident. While studies have shown that insomniacs may benefit from increased longevity due to less sleep, there is an increased rate of mortality for some insomniacs who turn to medications to induce sleep. Chronic insomnia can, in some cases, lead to fatigue, mental impairment and hallucinations. Some studies have shown that insomnia can lead to greater risk of depression and anxiety, increased risk of some cancers, and may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Are you suffering from insomnia? Most people are probably very aware of their insomnia and sleep deprivation but other insomniacs may not know they can't sleep or are not getting enough good sleep. Inability to fall asleep, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again, and waking up several times a night are some obvious symptoms of insomnia. Feeling tired and sleepy during the day is another sign. Feeling that you need to take a nap during the day may indicate a poor night's rest the previous evening and is a common insomnia symptom. Lack of alertness, feeling groggy, and somewhat dim-witted may also be caused by a lack of good rest. Experiencing these symptoms despite sleeping the night before can be a sign that one is at least somewhat insomniac and not well-rested.
What are the causes of insomnia? Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. Physical pain can keep one awake at night. Mental stress, anxiety, and depression can also induce sleeplessness. Worries or a bad day at work can interfere with one's ability to relax and sleep. Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can prevent one from falling asleep easily. Sleep environmental factors can also lead to insomnia. Too much light, noise, or even a pet in the bed, can keep one awake, or awake one in the middle of the night. Too much food or alcohol can bring on insomnia, as can eating or drinking too close to bedtime. Many people are kept awake due to an uncomfortable mattress or bed. Even the temperature of the room one is sleeping in can interfere with a good night's rest, especially if it is too hot.
Physical conditions, such as illness or hormone changes can also bring on insomnia. Sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea and Restless Legs Syndrome can lead to insomnia, as can changes in one's natural circadian rhythm caused by jet lag or shift work. Some mental disorders (like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and clinical depression) can also cause insomnia.
What are the remedies for insomnia? How can one overcome insomnia and get a good night's rest? Well, there are a number of remedies available to help those who can't sleep well due to insomnia. Here are some tips for getting mind and body prepared to sleep and to help with staying asleep:
- Get an adequate amount of exercise each day. This will not only help you sleep better but it will also improve your health overall. Thirty minutes of exercise per day is good for you.
- Avoid naps during the day. Napping can give you partial rest which may make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine in the hours immediately before bedtime. Tea and coffee late in the evening can make it harder to get to sleep.
- Avoid alcohol use in the hours immediately preceding bedtime as alcohol can prevent sound sleep.
- Avoid exercise in the evening as this could lead to over stimulation and may interfere with sleep.
- Sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet room. Light, noise, and heat can each prevent a good sleep environment.
- Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress. If your bed is not comfortable, restful sleep may be hard to achieve.
- If you are in pain, take some pain medication before bedtime. An anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may ease the pain enough to allow you to get to sleep.
- Keep pets out of the bed when sleeping. As sweet and lovable as they are, pets can interfere with your sleep by grooming themselves, or moving around in, or jumping in or out of, the bed.
- Use the bed only for sleeping or sex. Don't watch television or surf the Internet in bed.
- Avoid deep thinking, problem solving and worrying when in bed and preparing to go to sleep. Try journaling before bedtime, or scheduling problem-solving tasks for some other time besides bedtime.
- Go to bed at set times. Your body's natural circadian rhythm can be thrown out of whack by irregular sleep schedules and this can cause insomnia.
- Avoid excessive eating or drinking in the hours prior to bedtime as too much food or fluid can prevent falling asleep or wake you up a few hours after falling asleep.
- If you can't fall asleep within twenty minutes, get out of bed for a while and do something relaxing.
- Try relaxation techniques to encourage the onset of sleep. Tensing and relaxing your muscles can help. Visualizing relaxing scenes or locations can also rest your mind and body enhancing the ability to fall asleep.
- A warm bath prior to bedtime can relax the body and help induce slumber.
There is no real cure for insomnia. If the remedies above do not help and you are suffering from repeated instances or prolonged bouts of insomnia, you should consult your doctor or other health care provider. Some insomnia may be the result of an underlying condition or may be symptom of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. To diagnose or rule out sleep apnea, you would have to undergo a sleep study. Sleep studies are conducted at sleep study centers.
Many people experience occasional insomnia and some have frequent trouble sleeping. If you suffer from prolonged, chronic insomnia, seeing a doctor for help may be your best option for reclaiming a good night's rest. Sleep well!