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What causes insomnia

17-02-2014

What causes insomnia

We have all tossed and turned at night, unable to get to sleep. A random night with insufficient sleep is bad enough but for those people that suffer insomnia the negative effects can be widespread and diverse, from the obvious ones like exhaustion and irritability through to the more obscure issues like weight gain and recall issues.

Insomnia is an incredibly complex issue, one that has a number of origins. Many people who suffer from insomnia have an underlying sleep disorder but it can also be caused by a number of other problems that are not specifically sleep related. One of the most important ways of dealing with these types of insomnia is working out what is causing it. This guide will explain the 6 most common reasons people suffer from insomnia (other than as a sleeping disorder), with the proviso that often insomnia has a number of root causes and that people who suffer from insomnia as a sleep disorder will also be affected by these issues as well.

Stress: Probably the single biggest cause of insomnia, stress is a real sleep killer. Getting to sleep when you have something that is worrying you can be extremely difficult. One of the major issues with stress and sleep is that they are mutually damaging, the less sleep you get the more stressed you become and the more stress you are the more you struggle to get to sleep.

Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine: Next to stress, these three probably come in second. Caffeine is a well known stimulant, most commonly found in coffee. Drinking a coffee too late in the afternoon can  make it harder to sleep. Nicotine is less known as a stimulant, but smoking late at night has been shown to impact sleep patterns. While alcohol works as a sedative, helping people fall asleep at the start of the night it also impacts the sleep stages and can cause people to wake in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep.

Medications: Another common cause of insomnia is medication. There are a wide range of different medications that people take that can make it harder to fall asleep. Many blood pressure and heart medicines, antidepressants, stimulants, corticosteroids or allergy medicines can have an impact on your sleep.  As well as prescription medicines, a number of over the counter medicines and remedies, such as weight loss products, decongestants, and even some herbal medicines can also disturb your sleep.

Depression: While lack of sleep can cause or exacerbate depression, a number of studies have shown that depression may also cause insomnia. There is still debate about the causal relationship between the two, but if you have depression it is more likely you will struggle to sleep.

Changes in your schedule: The body craves a regular sleep schedule, if you change the time you go to bed and get up regularly and drastically you will struggle to sleep as well as if you stuck to a schedule. Shift work can cause serious insomnia.

Getting Older: As we age our sleep patterns change, when people get into their 60s and older they may find sleeping becomes progressively more difficult.


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