Have you ever wondered what causes sleep insomnia? Before you can find out the causes, it’s important to understand what insomnia is and how it affects the body. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes someone to have trouble falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep through the night. Short-term insomnia only lasts a few weeks, but chronic insomnia can last for months, causing serious sleep disturbances and leaving sufferers running on empty. Learning about what causes insomnia in people and understanding the symptoms of insomnia can help you determine if you need to seek help for your sleep problems.
What Are the Causes of Insomnia?
Anyone who has ever struggled with insomnia wonders why they cannot get to sleep or stay asleep. So, what are causes of insomnia? Some lifestyle choices increase the risk for insomnia in adults. An irregular sleep schedule is one of the major causes of this problem. Ideally, you should go to bed at the same time each night. When you go to bed at 10:00 p.m. one night and stay up until 2:00 a.m. the next night, your body may have difficulty getting to sleep. Napping during the day can also lead to insomnia, as daytime sleeping disrupts your normal routine. Those who watch TV or use a laptop in bed may find themselves struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep each night. This is because the brain starts to associate being in bed with these activities. If you have insomnia, you should use your bed only for sleeping and sexual activity.
Watching television, playing video games, reading and working on the computer should be done in other rooms of your home. Physical activity affects almost every aspect of your life, and your sleep habits are no exception. Not getting enough exercise is another cause of this sleep problem. One factor you may not be able to control is your work schedule. Working swing shifts or working at night disrupts your circadian rhythms and may make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. M. Dollander, a researcher from the Psychology Laboratory Research Group at Université Nancy in France, explains that working night shift has effects similar to those of jet lag. He says that working at night causes desynchronization of the body’s internal clock, leading to sleep problems.
The presence of physical and psychological disorders can have a great impact on normal sleep. Those who have anxiety disorders, depression or bipolar disorder may have difficulty controlling their anxiety and sadness, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Some physical problems, such as hyperthyroidism, may cause insomnia because of the way they affect the body. Chronic medical problems such as lupus, fibromyalgia and cancer affect sleep patterns because they can cause significant pain and discomfort. Those who deal with high levels of stress may also struggle with insomnia.
The causes of this condition differ from one person to the next, so what causes insomnia in women may not be what causes insomnia in men. Alcohol use is associated with the presence of insomnia, but women react differently to alcohol than men. A woman who has two drinks might experience insomnia while a man who has two drinks might fall asleep immediately. Cold medications, herbal remedies, diet pills, caffeinated beverages and nicotine can also cause insomnia.
What Are Symptoms of Insomnia?
Insomnia symptoms also vary from one person to another, so it’s important to keep a record of your symptoms if the problem persists. The frequency of the symptoms is also important to note, as a medical professional only diagnoses a patient with insomnia if these problems occur regularly. Having trouble falling asleep on two nights out of the month does not mean you have insomnia or another sleep disorder. One of the major symptoms for insomnia is having trouble falling asleep on most nights. You may find yourself tossing and turning in an effort to fall asleep faster.
Another one of the most significant sleep insomnia symptoms is waking up several times during sleep. Waking up at night does not necessarily mean that you have insomnia, but it is one of the indicators. If you have no trouble falling asleep, look for other things that might cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Street noise, uncomfortable bedroom temperature, menopause symptoms and other disruptions can wake you up and make it difficult to get back to sleep.
The other symptoms of sleep insomnia are feeling tired when you wake up and falling asleep during the day.
If you have insomnia, you might find yourself nodding off at your desk or falling asleep during class. Some of the symptoms of insomnia in adults can be downright dangerous, as working, driving and operating machinery while tired is a major risk factor for accidents and injuries. There is also a rare type of insomnia that leads to death. This type of insomnia is called sporadic fatal insomnia and is caused by a malformed protein that affects the brain. The protein, which is called a prion, attaches to the thalamus. Since the thalamus controls sleep, this disorder makes falling asleep almost impossible.
Fatal insomnia symptoms are mild at first, causing muscle pain and minor sleep disruptions. When someone has these symptoms, insomnia might not even be a consideration. Unfortunately, these mild symptoms progress to memory loss and death within one to three years. Dr. Jim Mastrianni of the University of Chicago studied this condition and determined that it is very similar to a condition called fatal familial insomnia. The major difference is that fatal familial insomnia has a genetic cause, but there is no gene mutation responsible for sporadic fatal imsomnia. Dr. Mastrianni and his colleagues found that prescription sleeping medicines were not effective for treating this type of insomnia.
Getting Help for Insomnia
If insomnia symptoms are ruining your sleep and affecting your life, it is important that you seek medical attention. Discuss insomnia symptoms and treatment with a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant and you may be able to get your sleep disorder under control. Getting help for this disorder can even save your life, as getting better quality sleep at night reduces the risk that you will fall asleep at the wheel or doze off while working with sharp knives, heavy machinery or dangerous equipment.