Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems

Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems
  • There are many potential causes of insomnia or sleep problems.
  • Bad sleep, such as irregular schedules or screen use before bed, often contributes to insomnia.
  • Insomnia can also be caused by stress, psychiatric disorders, sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), hormonal changes (such as pregnancy), physical illness, or drug side effects.
  • Can't sleep or have insomnia. This is a common condition with several possible causes.

    For example, if you experience insomnia from time to time, it could be due to stress, an irregular sleep schedule, or unhealthy bedtime habits.

    But if you experience insomnia more frequently over several months, it could be an underlying medical condition, a mental health issue, or a side effect of a medication.

    Here's what you need to know to understand cause of your sleep problems.

    Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems
bad sleep habits

    Sleep disorders are one of main causes of sleep problems.

    For example, irregular sleep caused by irregular shift work is associated with higher rates of insomnia. Although it can be more difficult for night shift workers, people should go to bed and wake up at same time every day, even on weekends.

    It helps your body set a sleep pattern by adjusting your internal clock so that your body feels sleepy or awake at specific times by regulating its circadian rhythm. Having a predictable schedule helps your body prepare for sleep at right time.

    In addition, any irritant before bed, such as work or stressful activities such as paying bills, can interfere with sleep. Using screens at night can also affect sleep, as blue light from tablet and smartphone screens suppresses production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

    It's better to develop habit of relaxing before bed instead. Taking a warm bath or a cup of chamomile tea can help slow down brain and body.

    Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems
unhealthy diet or substance

    There are also foods and substances that can interfere with sleep:

  • Food. A 2019 study found that eating high amounts of refined dietary carbohydrates, such as white bread, instead of whole grains and foods with added sugar, worsened insomnia.
  • Alcohol. While drinking can make it easier to fall asleep, in fact, drinking alcohol can easily impair quality of sleep and cause drowsiness. It also disrupts circadian rhythms, which can lead to insomnia.
  • Caffeine. Many people turn to caffeine. Don't sleep, so it's not surprising that this interrupts sleep. One study found that just 400 milligrams — or about 4 cups of coffee — 6 hours before bed can lead to sleep deprivation.
  • Nicotine. In a 2019 survey of over 26,000 people, smokers reported more sleep disturbances than non-smokers, which can lead to insomnia.
  • Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems

    Acute insomnia usually lasts only a few days or weeks. Associated with excessive stress.

    Insomnia can be caused by over-arousal or brain shutdown problems. Stress is an agitated state in which hormones and thoughts go wild, so it can interfere with the calm state of mind needed for sleep.

    A big project at work, financial difficulties, or nasty arguments are all examples of stressful life events. May keep you awake at night. For example, a 2018 scientific review found that stressful work is associated with a higher likelihood of insomnia.

    Another 2017 study of nearly 25,000 employees found that those with higher levels of stress and less control were more likely to experience insomnia.

    Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems
depression or anxiety

    From 50% to 80% of people who see a psychiatrist report sleep problems, compared to 10% to 18% of general population.

    Although not everyone who sees a psychiatrist has a mental illness, 40% of people with chronic insomnia — sleep disorders that occur at least three times a week for three months — may have mental health problems such as depression .

    For example, depression can lead to insomnia, and both conditions can exacerbate other symptom, leading to a vicious cycle. Anxiety can also cause insomnia. In fact, sleep problems are one of most common symptoms of anxiety.

    A 2016 study of college students found that those who worry were more likely to suffer from insomnia and poor sleep quality. The study found that more than half of people with anxiety reported excessive daytime sleepiness compared to 30 percent of those who were not.

    Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems

    Insomnia is common during pregnancy. In fact, insomnia affects up to 78 percent of pregnant women and is most common. in second trimester.

    Many factors can contribute to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep during pregnancy, including:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Illness
  • You need to go to bathroom often.
  • Anxiety about changes at work or in life.
  • Although insomnia during pregnancy is common, it usually resolves only after childbirth. Practicing good sleep hygiene and increasing body comfort with extra pillows or lying in different positions can help pregnant women sleep better.

    In general, women are 40% more likely to suffer from insomnia than men. They are especially at risk during hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation, which can also affect sleep.

    Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems
health status

    There are many diseases that can cause insomnia, especially sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person suddenly stops breathing during sleep. According to a 2019 scientific review, 38% of people with sleep apnea have insomnia.

    A 2019 study found that treating both diseases at same time is first CBT and then introduction of CBT. CPAP machines relieve shortness of breath and can reduce symptoms of insomnia.

    In addition, restless legs syndrome, which causes leg twitches and is often exacerbated at night by leg movements, is a common sleep disorder.

    It is estimated that between 48% and 60% of people suffer from insomnia with restlessness. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help with insomnia caused by restless leg syndrome.

    Other physical conditions that can lead to insomnia include:

  • Hormones and thyroid disorders such as hyperthyroidism.
  • Nervous disorders, including Parkinson's disease.
  • Acid reflux or indigestion.
  • Chronic pain
  • Asthma
  • Medicines

    Many common side effects of medications can also cause insomnia. Medications that can cause sleep disturbances include:

  • SSRIs. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, can cause new insomnia in 17% of users, according to a survey. Survey 2017
  • Blood pressure medications. Alpha blockers and beta blockers are common drugs used to treat high blood pressure. Alpha-blockers are thought to shorten REM sleep, while beta-blockers reduce production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
  • Steroids. Steroids, including those used to treat arthritis, can interfere with sleep, so people are advised to take these medications in morning.
  • Debunking myths: how to find out the causes of insomnia and solve sleep problems
bottom line

    Although it's normal to have trouble sleeping from time to time, if your inability to sleep is affecting your ability to live, work, or have relationships, you should see a doctor and get tested. Seeing a doctor can help you figure out exactly what is causing your insomnia and how best to help you sleep better.