Sleep is an essential function that allows the body and mind to recuperate and repair itself. For this reason, we usually wake up feeling refreshed the next day after long hours of sleep. But sadly, some factors might disrupt this nighttime body activity.
One of which is insomnia, a common sleep disorder that refers to the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. In Canada alone, 35 percent of citizens claimed they experience trouble falling and staying asleep, making the country the third most sleep-deprived nation after Ireland and the UK.
So to have a deeper understanding of what this condition is all about, let’s take a closer look at insomnia: its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
In general, various factors contribute to the development of insomnia. From poor sleeping habits to medical illnesses, patients can experience sleep problems due to many reasons. Let’s check out some of them below.
1. Poor Sleep Habits
Usually, people find it hard to fall or stay asleep due to irregular sleeping habits. This refers to the practice of staying up late, not establishing a regular bedtime schedule. But sometimes, changes in your sleeping pattern may also result in insomnia.
For instance, if you’re pretty used to working late shifts, you’ll end up with a distorted circadian rhythm. This refers to your internal clock, which signals the body to sleep and wake up. The same goes for experiencing jet lag after travelling from one place to another with a different time zone.
2. Mental Disorders
Stress, depression, and anxiety are known as some of the significant causes of sleep deprivation. Individuals who have such mental health issues often find it challenging to fall asleep due to certain variables.
However, these conditions are so often interlinked that they show up as symptoms for each other. Like how depression can cause insomnia, research suggests that lack of sleep may also contribute to the development of mental disorders like anxiety and depression. It is important to speak to a mental health professional if you feel that you are experiencing any of these issues.
3. Health Problems
Sometimes, other medical disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and chronic pain can make it difficult to sleep. For this reason, they are often associated with long-term insomnia, as sleep deprivation often persists until the illness is addressed and treated, and can even hang around for a few months after successful treatment while the brain adjusts. There are many medications that also have insomnia as a side effect. If you feel like one of the medications you are taking is causing insomnia, talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is an alternative available for you.
Aside from having trouble sleeping at night and waking up in the middle of the night, insomnia symptoms consist of tiredness, sleepiness, irritability, mood swings, inability to focus, lack of energy, and the like.
It’s important to note that insomnia isn’t a disease. Thus, there’s no official way to test and diagnose this condition. However, medical experts will often conduct physical examinations, sleep studies and blood tests to determine why you can’t sleep well.
At the most basic level, treatment for insomnia focuses on solving why patients are having difficulty falling or staying asleep. For instance, if it’s because of a medical problem like chronic pain, then treatment will revolve around addressing the pain for uninterrupted sleep. There is also a term called sleep hygiene, which includes focusing on your bedtime routine and habits that can drastically improve insomnia. Creating consistent sleep and wake times, dimming lights and limiting screen time before bed, and ensureing you do not consume caffeine in the afternoon and evenings are all easy things to incorporate into your lifestyle to reduce insomnia.
There are also sleep medicines available. However, doctors usually suggest this option for short-term treatment only, as it can cause reliance on the use of sleeping pills and does not solve the root cause of the insomnia. In some cases, medical experts conduct counselling as well to help patients fix their sleeping habits.
Sleep is a basic necessity. Without it, the mind and body will not function properly. Thus, it only fits that you don’t take sleeping disorders like insomnia lightly. At the first signs of this condition, it would be best to consult a specialist immediately.
Looking for a sleep specialist? Sleep Better Live Better is dedicated to providing patients with effective sleep solutions in Vancouver for a healthier mind and body. If you’re trying to find an insomnia clinic that can give you the treatment you need, reach out to us today!