Published: 09/28/2012 - Updated: 08/13/2019
Author: Miriam Reyes
Do you struggle to sleep, no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake for hours, watching anxiously the clock? Insomnia is a common problem that affects your energy, mood, health and ability to function during the day.
Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems. But simple changes in your lifestyle and daily habits can end the sleepless nights.
Age and sleep
Older adults have major tendency to suffer insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Since different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after not sleeping the hours you need or how quickly you fall asleep. If you sleep more than eight hours a night in bed, but you feel sleepy and tired during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.
Although insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, is not alone. It is more accurate to think insomnia is a symptom of another problem. The problem that causes insomnia is different from person to person. It could be something as simple as drinking too much caffeine during the day or a more complex issue, as an underlying medical condition or feeling overloaded with responsibilities.
The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be cured with changes you can make on your own, without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription using sleeping pills.
Insomnia symptoms are:
- Difficulty to sleep despite being tired
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Trouble returning to sleep when awakened
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep
- Waking up really early in the morning
- Daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating during the day
Find out why you cannot sleep
In order to properly treat and cure your insomnia, you need to find the cause. Emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, depression are often the most common causes. But your daytime habits, sleep routine, and physical health may also play a role. Try to identify all the possible causes of your insomnia, since it is easier to attack the root.
Common mental and physical causes of insomnia
Sometimes, insomnia lasts only a few days and goes away on its own, especially when insomnia is linked to a temporary obvious cause such as stress through an upcoming presentation, or a painful breakup. However, it may be more durable. Chronic insomnia is usually linked to an underlying mental or physical problem.
Drugs insomnia is commonly caused by antidepressants, cold medicines and flu that contain alcohol, caffeine-containing analgesics, diuretics, steroids, thyroid hormones, medications for hypertension.
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Diseases that can cause insomnia are the following: asthma, allergies, Parkinson's disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux disease, kidney disease, cancer or chronic pain.
Sleep disorders that can cause it: sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs.
How to treat it?
If the origin insomnia is a physical or mental problem, then it is good to take a treatment, but it may not be enough to cure insomnia. Also check the daily habits, may be a good idea.
For example, if you use sleeping pills, or you resort to alcohol may work, but ultimately, the effect is the opposite, disturbing sleep even more.
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You may also be drinking excessive amounts of coffee a day, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
Napping during the day can also cause or worsen insomnia.
Even watching TV in the early morning, or the Internet, can be our reason for insomnia.
Habits that could help combat insomnia
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. Noise, light and heat can interfere with sleep.
- Adopt a regular sleep schedule.
- Avoid naps.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
- Cure insomnia and treatments
Dietary supplements for insomnia
There are many dietary and herbal supplements marketed for its effects to promote sleep. But two of them are quite popular as melatonin and valerian.
Melatonin: a hormone naturally produced by the body during the night. Melatonin is also available as a supplement. And even though it is not useful for everyone, can be useful for people who sleep late and get up late, as it helps regulate sleep.
Valerian: is an herb with mild sedative effects that can help you sleep, use it as a tea or supplement you can take advantage of these effects.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018. Sleep Disorders: In Depth
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018. Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches
- Medlineplus, 2018. Insomnio.
- Zhou, E. S., Gardiner, P., & Bertisch, S. M. (2017). Integrative Medicine for Insomnia. The Medical Clinics of North America, 101(5), 865–879.
- Burman, D. (2017). Sleep Disorders: Insomnia. FP Essentials, 460, 22–28.
- Wing, Y. K. (2001). Herbal treatment of insomnia. Hong Kong Medical Journal = Xianggang Yi Xue Za Zhi, 7(4), 392–402.
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