⚠️Insomnia Causes⚠️

What keeps you up at night☑️

Pondering deep questions☑️

Excitement about a big trip☑️

Or is it stress about unfinished work,an upcoming test,or a dreaded family gathering☑️

For many people, this stress is temporary, as its cause is quickly resolved.But what if the very thing keeping you awake was stress about losing sleep?This seemingly unsolvable loop is at the heart of insomnia,the world’s most common sleep disorder.Almost anything can cause the occasional restless night -a snoring partner,physical pain,or emotional distress.And extreme sleep deprivation like jetlag can throw off your biological clock,wreaking havoc on your sleep schedule.But in most cases, sleep deprivation is short-term.Eventually, exhaustion catches up with all of us.However, some long-term conditions like respiratory disorders,gastrointestinal problems,and many others can overpower fatigue.

And as sleepless nights pile up,the bedroom can start to carry associations of restless nights wracked with anxiety. Come bedtime, insomniacs are stressed.So stressed their brains hijack the stress response system,flooding the body with fight-flight-or-freeze chemicals.Cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormones course through the bloodstream,increasing heart rate and blood pressure,and jolting the body into hyper arousal.In this condition, the brain is hunting for potential threats,making it impossible to ignore any slight discomfort or nighttime noise.And when insomniacs finally do fall asleep,the quality of their rest is compromised.

Our brain’s primary source of energy is cerebral glucose,and in healthy sleep, our metabolism slows to conserve this glucose for waking hours.But PET studies show the adrenaline that prevents sleep for insomniacs also speeds up their metabolisms.While they sleep, their bodies are working overtime,burning through the brain’s supply of energy-giving glucose.This symptom of poor sleep leaves insomniacs waking in a state of exhaustion, confusion, and stress,which starts the process all over again.When these cycles of stress and restlessness last several months,they’re diagnosed as chronic insomnia.And while insomnia rarely leads to death,its chemical mechanisms are similar to anxiety attacks found in those experiencing depression and anxiety.

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So suffering from any one of these conditionsincreases your risk of experiencing the other two.Fortunately, there are ways to break the cycle of sleeplessness.Managing the stress that leads to hyperarousalis one of our best-understood treatments for insomnia,and good sleep practices can help rebuild your relationship with bedtime.Make sure your bedroom is dark and comfortably coolto minimize “threats” during hyperarousal.Only use your bed for sleeping,and if you’re restless,leave the room and tire yourself out with relaxing activitieslike reading,meditating,or journaling.Regulate your metabolism by setting consistent resting and waking timesto help orient your body’s biological clock.

This clock, or circadian rhythm,is also sensitive to light,so avoid bright lights at nightto help tell your body that it’s time for sleep.In addition to these practices,some doctors prescribe medication to aid sleep,but there aren’t reliable medications that help in all cases.And over-the-counter sleeping pills can be highly addictive,leading to withdrawal that worsens symptoms.But before seeking any treatment,make sure your sleeplessness is actually due to insomnia.Approximately 8% of patients diagnosed with chronic insomniaare actually suffering from a less common genetic problemcalled delayed sleep phase disorder, or DSPD.People with DSPD have a circadian rhythm significantly longer than 24 hours,putting their sleeping habits out of sync with traditional sleeping hours.So while they have difficulty falling asleep at a typical bedtime,it’s not due to increased stress.

And given the opportunity,they can sleep comfortably on their own delayed schedule.Our sleeping and waking cycle is a delicate balance,and one that’s vital to maintain for our physical and mental wellbeing.For all these reasons,it’s worth putting in some time and effortto sustain a stable bedtime routine,

but try not to lose any sleep over it.☺️

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A Guide to Insomnia Symptoms

Have you ever had one of those nights where you just couldn’t seem to fall asleep?While that happens to everyone every once in awhile, people with insomnia have to deal with these symptoms night after night. Some people with insomnia have trouble falling asleep, whereas others wake up throughout the night, and struggle to fall back asleep, and these disturbances typically happen at least 3 times each week.Acute insomnia lasts less than a month, whereas chronic insomnia lasts over a month.

Insomnia affects both the quantity and quality of sleep, which makes it hard for individuals to reach the restorative levels of sleep which causes daytime sleepiness and fatigue, and over time—feelings of irritability, anxiety, and depression.This can lead to professional and personal problems, as well as day-to-day challenges like falling asleep while driving.Although insomnia can happen without an underlying cause, it can also accompany and worsen other problems like pulmonary diseases, psychiatric conditions, and a whole variety of conditions that might cause pain. Insomnia is also a common side effect of stimulants like caffeine, as well as depressants like alcohol, which can both disrupt the regular sleep cycle. Finally, and probably most commonly, insomnia can be the result of daily stresses from work or relationships as well environmental factors such as having to work a night shift, or having a newborn baby.

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There are a number of biological factors associated with insomnia.Studies have shown that people with insomnia might have heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which plays a role in the process of waking up every morning.People with insomnia are also more sensitive to the effects of cortisol, typically waking up at much lower levels of cortisol as compared to the general population.In addition, insomnia is also associated with reduced levels of estrogen and reduced levels of progesterone, which can happen during menopause.Commonly, individuals with insomnia will self-medicate with alcohol and benzodiazepines, both of which can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol abuse can lead to a number of physical and psychological changes that can rapidly worsen the sleep-wake cycle and lead to dependence.Similarly, benzodiazepines, especially short-acting ones, can also create dependence and have a high abuse potential, which can actually worsen insomnia if someone tries to stop using them.

One method of treatment is getting good sleep hygiene, which includes going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day including weekends, getting good exercise (but not right before bed), reducing alcohol intake, avoiding day-time naps, avoiding caffeine and smoking in the evening, and not going to sleep hungry. Another potential treatment is stimulus control which includes using the bed only to sleep rather than a place from which to watch television, text, or talk on the phone.It also helps to keep the environment calm by removing bright lights like a computer or a phone screen, and minimizing noise.

Sometimes, though, these are unavoidable in which case eye covers and earplugs can definitely help. It’s also not helpful to try to force sleep to happen, which means that people that can’t sleep after 20 minutes should simply leave the bed and then return when they feel ready to sleep.These suggestions help the individual associate sleep—and only sleep—with the bedroom. Also there’s behavior therapy, which includes relaxation techniques as well as cognitive behavior therapy to help better manage problems and life stressors. While these techniques are being used, some medications such as melatonin agonists, non-benzodiazepinesedatives, and occasionally benzodiazepines might be prescribed to help with sleep.

These medications can often have side effects, though, so they are generally used for less than two months, usually in combination with the behavioral therapy techniques.Alright so as a quick recap. Insomnia is an inability to get restorative sleep that causes daytime sleepiness and fatigue,and can be managed with good sleep hygiene, stimulus control, behavior therapy, and occasionally short courses of medications.

Do any of these Insomnia symptoms describe you?

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