Have you ever had insomnia? In other words, do you face the difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night? So, what causes it?
Often, insomnia is caused by multiple reasons, such as not getting enough rest, hunger, psychological trauma, and so on. No matter what the reason is, millions of human beings suffer from the devil called insomnia.
It robs you from getting enough rest, saps your energy, and destroys your productivity the next day, not to mention the detrimental effect of your own physical and mental health.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia, by definition, is the difficulty of falling asleep and staying asleep. It refers to the types of restlessness a person suffers at different points of his or her sleep cycle.
A simple way to diagnose insomnia is when a person is not satisfied with the amount of sleep that he or she has been getting.
Those with insomnia will feel the lack of energy, fatigue at different moments of the day, facing difficulty in concentrating on tasks, experiencing terrible mood disturbances, and having a low-performance level in the workplace. Insomniacs can have any of these symptoms after staying awake throughout the night.
A human body requires rest to rejuvenate both mind and body. A lack of rest in either one of them will result in fatigue and various mental illnesses. Although they are exhausted to the core, they still fail to fall asleep or stay asleep due to different causes.
The Two Types of Insomnia
There are two primary types of insomnia. The first type, Acute Insomnia, is the kind of when you only suffer a couple of restless nights. Often, you’re able to fall asleep and stay asleep easily.
For many, insomniacs might not think that they are suffering from it, but the fact is, they could be having Acute Insomnia.
So what is Acute Insomnia? This kind of insomnia comes from the core levels of stress that insomniacs are experiencing at that moment. They will face a short period where they are not able to fall asleep because of the life circumstances they’re facing at that moment.
This type of insomnia doesn’t last for a prolonged time. Instead, it only happens due to certain factors or events for a specified period.
For instance, acute insomnia might occur after insomniacs faced the wrath of their boss, gotten a bad grade on a test, got rejected by their crush, or merely because they’re having a ‘Bad Day.’
These situations can cause a person to have a night or two, where he or she simply cannot get any sleep. Many people may have experienced this kind of insomnia, and it tends to resolve on its own.
The second type of insomnia is known as Chronic Insomnia. It’s a prolonged kind of insomnia that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts for at least three months.
Usually, this occurs when you are facing a significant change in your environment, physically or mentally. It could be moving to a new home, losing a loved one, being in a new workplace, facing challenges in school, or having trouble adapting to harsher weather.
Perhaps, the reason why chronic insomniacs are having trouble with sleep is that they have an unhealthy sleep habit without a proper sleep routine.
It’s common in today’s world; modern society has screwed up the sleep cycle with short hours of sleep. To make things worse, most of them sleep at odd hours. They don’t practice the habit of going to bed early and rising early the next day.
As a result, the mind doesn’t know when to shut down and would be accustomed to staying up late. That’s the reason why insomnia has become a common problem in today’s society.
What people fail to understand is that the body will not be able to function with a small amount of sleep one night and expect to compensate for their sleep gap by taking naps later on during the day.
While this may seem possible and useful in the beginning, this sleep pattern is not sustainable for the long-term.
Eventually, the mind and body will collapse, and you will experience complete exhaustion until you get enough rest. The best fix is to have a fixed schedule to sleep and practice a healthy sleep routine.
Otherwise, you need to visit the doctor for medication. Typically it will be linked to another medical or psychiatric issue, meaning that the reason why you might be having chronic insomnia will be due to stress.
What seems to be a typical situation will seem stressful if you have chronic insomnia. A restless mind and body will feel annoyed by any stimulus from the immediate environment.
The Causes Of Insomnia
Regardless of the types of insomnia, the causes are the same. The difference lies in the intensity of emotions a person experiences for a set amount of time.
Besides that, underlying medical conditions can also cause insomnia. Fortunately, insomnia is treatable in most cases. These medical conditions can be either severe or mild, inducing insomnia to occur at a different point in a person’s life.
These symptoms include nasal allergies, sinus allergies, lower back pain, overall chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, asthma, and other neurological problems.
The stress on the patient’s body will cause the mind to stay awake for a more extended period. For instance, those who catch a cold will realize that they are staying awake for the majority of the night, or they might find themselves waking up frequently.
Both of these factors can result in a person having a severe lack of sleep and rest. They might try to relax while having a cold, but insomnia will prevail.
Physical pain can also cause insomnia as the body cannot get into a comfortable position to rest.
Have you ever experienced sleepless nights because you’re unable to get into a comfortable position? This situation is typical when you experience any pain in your body.
The best way to fall asleep and stay asleep fast is to get your body in a comfortable position in bed. It will also aid in healing and ensure a more productive sleep.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a constant battle to fall asleep and even opt for unnecessary medication if you can’t get into your best sleeping posture.
With all of these different causes in mind, we can now move on to the cure. But it’s just as important to study all the factors that cause insomnia. But did you know that there are also risk factors of insomnia?
If you find some of these risks apply to you, then you simply have a higher chance of having insomnia at some point in your life.
Otherwise, pay attention to your health and sleep habits to make sure that you’re insomnia-free for the rest of your life.
The Risk Factors of Insomnia
The risk factors of insomnia include:
- Being a female
- Being pregnant or in the period of menopause
- Adults above the age of sixty
- Suffer from psychological issues
- Chronic Medical Problems
- Suffer from depression
- Have a night time job
- Travel long distances where there is a time change
- Have a family history of insomnia
Most of these factors can lead a person closer to insomnia. But do you realize that most of these risk factors are the results of your choices? In most cases, people think that they have little to no choice in life, which is not true.
They can choose to take a more extended vacation when they are moving through different time zones, but they didn’t. They can go for a day job, but they decided to go through the hard times of having a job at night and adapt to an entirely different lifestyle.
It is hard to deal with the risk factors of insomnia, but ultimately, it all depends on your choices. Sometimes, you may go through tough times in life. It can be relationship problems, family problems, or job problems.
Not only that, you might be suffering from financial or personal problems where you are having trouble balancing your professional and personal life.
All these will beat you up and keep you up at night until most of the stress or depression is gone. In some cases, it might take longer.
In other cases, people can find solutions and get through tough times rather quickly. Either way, having the right mindset is the cure to emotion-induced insomnia.
Since insomnia has many different causes and risk factors, there are many different things that you can do to prevent yourself from having more sleepless and restless nights.
Most of the time, it’s easy to find out what the causes are, but the real challenge is how to overcome it and have a good night’s sleep.
Life can be difficult, and sometimes it can beat a person down to the point where he’s not even sure if he can get back up.
The Brain Of An Insomniac
Researchers all around the world are putting their minds together to figure out how the brain of an insomniac works. They continue to study brainwave features and how the thoughts interact during the day and night.
How The Mind Works
During every hour of the day, the mind can adapt itself to any new situation. Whether you’re trying to get food, get a drink, get out of the car, walking through a door, or just get some rest, the mind will always try to find new ways to survive and flourish.
It will continue through the cycle of getting enough resources during the day and have enough energy to heal and rest during the night.
Usually, people with a healthy level of brainwaves with satisfactory cognitive stability during the day can shut down parts of the brain’s thought process during the night.
As night falls deeper, the brain will begin to slow down and initiate sleep. Your alertness and focus typically decrease when it’s nighttime. This is the reason why a person finds it harder to complete tasks at night.
Studies show that the process of the mind will naturally change throughout the day, and sometimes it will cause a significant form of anxiety.
It is when the brainwaves become erratic and refuse to slow down due to an immense amount of stress during the day. Therefore, the mind will not be able to relax entirely at night.
Instead, it will go through a period where the brainwaves will move unusually fast, causing more thoughts and consuming more energy in the evening.
Everything that a person has been through during the day will be recollected at night. The body will then run through twice the amount of energy and resources to process the thoughts, and this causes fatigue and lack of energy the following day.
The Mind And The Brainwaves
As for the mind and how the brainwaves respond to the phases of insomnia, there are three different studies to show how the brain reacts during the night.
It has been proven that the brain’s learning and memory processing functions affect a person’s sleep. The more you learn during the day, the more thoughts and memories will be processed by the brain during the night.
Dreams come from one’s thoughts and real-life experiences. The more you experience in life, the more you dream at night.
The ability to have a more extensive variety of dreams allows the mind to calm down and form vague images to reinforce your memory.
When you fall into a deep sleep, you tend to be in the dream state. Sometimes, you might even have nightmares. But it all boils down to your subconscious thoughts and the kind of experience you had.
Day Vs. Night
So what’s happening in the brain of insomniacs? Firstly, their brain is more active during the night and has difficulty getting to a calm and relaxed state.
In one of the studies on the brainwaves during insomnia, scientists have proven that the neurons of the insomniacs’ brains are more active at night.
Insomniacs tend to have a lot of thoughts going through their heads, which results in insomnia. They’re experiencing a constant state of information processing throughout the entire day without the ability to put a stop to it.
Ultimately, they’ll have insomnia and face the consequences of not having enough rest. Experts claim that insomnia should not be seen directly as a nighttime disorder.
It’s more of a 24-hour brain condition that causes the brain to remain active throughout the day.
Sleep plays a significant role in processing and storing memories. The lack of sleep will interfere with your memory in the long run. You’ll have trouble concentrating, remembering facts, and even minor details.
Studies have shown that lack of sleep can negatively affect your thinking.
Switching Off Insomnia
Fighting insomnia is an uphill battle. When you are trying to cure insomnia, you are trying to stop your mind from being too active at night. There is no reason to be afraid of staying up for countless nights in a row and wondering if it is all going to end.
Worrying will only bring about sleepless nights. So stop battling insomnia in your head! All that you need to do is ‘Switch Off’ your monkey brain.
At night, you want your mind to slow down to the point where you can quickly fall asleep. Having a proper amount of sleep helps you to stay entirely alert the next day, and ensures a good night rest.
One of the reasons why people struggle to fall asleep is because their monkey brain refuses to shut down. More often than not, they start thinking about useless things that serve no purpose but only hinder them from falling asleep.
Switching off needs practice. For many busy adults, the only time they reflect upon their lives is during bedtime! It’s good to reflect once in a while, but not during bedtime. Often, this is the biggest culprit that stops you from falling asleep.
So for those who want to reflect on their lives, consider waking up earlier to have time in the morning to do so or even schedule some time in the evening to do some reflection.
Stimulating Night = Bad Sleep
Another reason why people fail to switch off is that they have many activities at night that are overstimulating, causing them to stay awake instead of feeling tired.
Some even love to have caffeine at night! No wonder people are struggling to fall asleep! So stay away from coffee, from your mobile phones, laptops, televisions when it’s bedtime.
Avoid activities that force you to think and require physical exertion at night. And most importantly, avoid ‘Blue-screen’ from the electronic devices.
Never Miss Another Night of Sleep
Another key to fall asleep is to schedule your sleep. Most people don’t do that. Instead, they choose to fall asleep only when they’re tired.
But what they should do instead is to set up their routine and schedule their bedtime. Upon repetitions, your mind will be conditioned to switch off when the clock hits the usual hour to fall asleep.
Having a regular sleep routine is arguably the best technique to ensure better quality sleep. Our bodies thrive on a consistent sleep schedule and regularity.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, having a consistent sleep routine will help in beating chronic insomnia once and for all.
Tips To Help You Sleep
Turn Off Electronic Devices
The first thing you should do after you have eaten dinner and cleaned up for the night is to turn off any of your electronic devices.
Having your phone or computer switched on when you are getting ready for bed will stimulate your brain, and it will eventually hinder your sleep.
Admit it, your electronic devices are addictive, and you won’t know when to stop. The light will interfere with your sleep pattern and cause you to stay wide awake. It’s recommended to avoid using your gadgets at all costs at least 1 hour before bedtime.
Read A Book
Reading before sleep is fine, but not through your electronic devices. Reading a physical book as a hobby before bed helps you in getting ready to sleep.
It’s better not to read in your bedroom. You’re encouraged to read in another room since you do not want your mind to be active in the room that you need to fall asleep in.
Again, to condition your mind to switch off the moment you step into your bedroom. If you can completely relax when reading a book, then it’s fine to do it while lying down in bed. Otherwise, it’s best to read in another room.
Listen To Relaxing Music
The next thing you can do is listen to music and write down any kind of reminders that you will need for the next day. The music will help you to calm your mind and remove your stress away.
Try to listen to music that is smoother and slower in rhythm. Listening to anything loud or exciting will stimulate the mind, and it will be harder for you to fall asleep.
For instance, you’ll find yourself in a much-relaxed state when you listen to classical music than rock music.
Plan Your Days
Another tip is to plan your days before sleep. Writing down reminders for the next day helps to clear out your mind.
Write Down Reminders
Staying awake in bed while continually reminding yourself that you need to remember something will keep your mind active. Think of your notepad as a “dump it and forget it” vault.
Simply grab a piece of paper and scribble a few notes down. It will help you calm down and fall asleep faster.
Drinks Some Tea
Another thing that you can do is have a relaxation drink, such as tea right before bed.
However, make sure that you stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and drinks with a high amount of sugar. A nice cup of tea can calm your mind down and helps your body to relax.
This is also an excellent way to create time for yourself – a time to quiet down and relax. You can do this while either reading or listening to music.
If you don’t find pleasure in drinking tea, then consider having a light snack before bed. Do not consume anything that is too high in calories and difficult to digest.
Eat A Light Snack
Regardless, a light snack is tasty because sometimes, the reason why you’re having trouble getting to sleep is simply due to hunger.
Lower The Room Temperature
Another way to ensure restful sleep is to bring down your room temperature. The best way to do this is to set your bedroom thermostat to be a bit cooler.
Our body is conditioned in a way that when it enters a cooler environment, it will get a signal that it’s time to rest.
Take A Cold Shower
Also, why not take a quick shower right before bed. Preferably a cold shower to immediately cool down. Otherwise, you can try to get a bed fan, a more cooling mattress, or go for a short walk before bed.
All of the things listed above can be a part of your bedtime routine. Go ahead and try them out and figure what works best for you and your schedule. In no time at all, you will have no trouble falling asleep and staying asleep again.