Insomnia: causes, consequences and treatment

Who doesn’t like to sleep, right? But the part of the day dedicated to recharging your energy is not the same for everyone. There are many people who suffer from insomnia and cannot sleep or cannot sustain prolonged sleep . But what are the causes of insomnia, do you know?

There is not just one factor that determines whether insomnia will appear. The causes range from biological factors , such as pre-existing diseases and age, to habits and behaviors . Furthermore, this disorder can occur in isolation, but it is also a chronic condition in many people.

Anyone who experiences the aftermath of sleeplessness knows how much it affects not only their sleep but also their day-to-day life. And see how striking this point is: according to the World Health Organization, nearly half of the world’s population experiences insomnia.

Are you one of them? Does your insomnia arise from natural problems, or does it flow from a busy life full of cares? And do you wonder what you should do to get some good night’s sleep again? Then you can find the answers below! Continue reading.

What are the causes of insomnia?

It is common that, at the first signs of insomnia, we wonder what is keeping us up at night. We usually attribute stress as the cause of this. But the causes of insomnia go much further and, below, we will talk about each one of them.

Causes of insomnia related to mental disorders

  • Depression: a person with depression may sleep a lot or not at all. In other words, insomnia is one of the signs of this disease, but it doesn’t always happen.
  • Stress: Stress can come from a full mind, such as when we are studying too much or working too much. But it can also be the result of some trauma or significant event. And the reasons for stress, in general, occupy our heads so much at night that we end up losing sleep. Nighttime stress can also come from an external factor: if the person you sleep with moves too much or snores too much and makes you lose sleep; or if your neighbor makes too much noise at night.
  • Anxiety: both severe and common everyday anxiety can cause insomnia.

Causes of insomnia related to daily habits

  • Changes in routine: when we change our work schedule or travel to a place with a different schedule, our heart rate and sleep-wake balance are altered. And so too, the quality of sleep changes.
  • Bad bedtime habits: if we do very stimulating activities before bed or go to sleep and wake up at different times every day, we may also have insomnia.
  • Consumption of drinks that make you sleepy: just like coffee, energy drinks and other common drinks in everyday life can lead to a lack of sleep. Some teas, colas and even alcohol can be the culprits of peaceful nights.
  • Nicotine use: and it’s not just cigarettes. There are several products made from tobacco. In addition to presenting a danger to sleep, tobacco is, in fact, predominantly harmful. As these products act as stimulants, the saying “smoking to relax” ends up being a contradiction.
  • Eating too late: this habit is not bad, but a heavy meal, with excess fats and carbohydrates, eaten close to bedtime can leave the body very uncomfortable and unable to relax.

Insomnia: causes that have to do with your health status

Unfortunately, insomnia can also be the result of a health condition . Below is a list of diseases that frequently cause this sleep disorder:

  • Cancer of any type.
  • Parkinson’s .
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cerebrovascular accident (CVA)
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Reflux
  • Lung diseases
  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Apnea (which is another type of sleep disorder)

Groups and risk factors for insomnia

In addition to the diseases mentioned, some people may be part of a risk group , and may develop insomnia more easily. Women , for example, tend to sleep worse due to frequent hormonal changes . Furthermore, the situation can worsen during the months of pregnancy and menopause.

Another group that also needs more attention to their sleep are the elderly , as their vulnerability to health problems interfere with their night’s rest.

Likewise, those who suffer from post-traumatic stress or have mental disorders are prone to having unregulated sleep. People who are going through a phase of stress or pressure may also have insomnia, however, in these cases it is usually temporary .

Types of insomnia

As we said before, insomnia can be something specific , which happens because of something at the moment. Or it may be chronic and the patient suffers from the disorder coming and going.

In the mildest cases, therefore called transient insomnia , we spend a few days easily losing sleep. It is usually a temporary anxiety about something that is about to happen or we are going through a difficult time in life. Furthermore, we can be affected by this type of insomnia due to a change in the way we sleep . It could be a time change that we haven’t yet gotten used to, or very cold or hot days that make us restless. And physical factors, often ignored, such as the quality of the mattress and pillow, need to be taken into account. And, when we fall asleep, the quality can be irregular and with moments of confusion.

There is likewise intense sleep deprivation, which is basically the same as transient sleep deprivation, in spite of the fact that it endures significantly longer. It can work out, for instance, to individuals who have quite recently gone through a huge second, similar to the passing of a family member or the termination of a friendship.

The most worrying is, therefore, chronic insomnia . This type mainly affects the older population . In these cases, it is essential to seek medical help, as this could be a sign that it comes from more dangerous causes. This way, you will know exactly what, why and how to treat. Pay attention to the day count warning sign. After 20 days without sleeping properly, it is considered chronic insomnia .

How to treat insomnia?

One of the first steps to starting treatment is to seek out a sleep specialist. Common exams for these cases, such as polysomnography and brain mapping, can provide answers. Additionally, consulting an endocrinologist can help investigate whether sleep problems are of respiratory origin.

As we have seen so far, insomnia is, in fact, much more of a consequence than a problem . Therefore, to treat and cure insomnia it is important to first treat the causes . These treatments can be a simple change in habits , such as creating a more adequate sleep routine, doing physical exercise, stopping smoking, properly hygiene the sleep environment (eliminating or reducing the effects of lights and sounds) and regulating your diet.

However, in cases of chronic insomnia or when changes in habits are not effective, your doctor may prescribe some type of medication .

You can also, equally, try cognitive behavioral therapy . With it you will learn how to practice sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques and stimuli to maintain wakefulness.

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