Insomnia, in simple terms, is when you get less sleep than you would like. You may have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep all night or waking up too early. The facts about insomnia are that everyone experiences insomnia from time to time.
Insomnia or sleeplessness can wreak havoc in your life. And in our stressful lives, many of us have difficulty sleeping.
Of course the length and severity of your sleeplessness is important in determining just how serious your sleep problems are. If you just have one sleepless night or you wake up one night due to a noise across the street from your home, you will probably catch up on your sleep in the next night or so.
However, if you find that you can’t sleep on most nights, and your performance, alertness and reactions are being affected during the daytime, it’s time to do something to correct your sleep insomnia!
With transient or short term insomnia, you may have trouble falling asleep. Even people who are falling asleep watching T.V. or reading a book can have trouble getting to sleep, when they go to bed. Half the adults in America experience this kind of sleeplessness, from time to time.
Short term insomnia is most often caused by anxiety or excitement. But it can be caused by a number of things:
- Upcoming Events – You could be nervous about a job interview or a public speaking engagement the next day. Or you could be thinking about the details and arrangements for your upcoming wedding. The event that keeps you awake, can be happy or sad.
- Financial Worries – If you lost your job, your house is close to foreclosure, or you are having trouble paying your bills, you might lie awake at night worrying about money issues.
- Jet Lag – If you fly frequently, you are familiar with the loss of sleep due to jet lag. The lost sleep can leave you feeling mentally slow and physically tired.
- Emotional Stress – Your life may be in emotional upheaval due to divorce, difficulty at work, or grief over the loss of a loved one. When your life is in turmoil, you may lie awake at night, unable to sleep.
- Illness or Pain – Coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, and pain can all keep you awake at night.
Short term insomnia usually lasts for 2-3 weeks. You usually know why you can’t sleep, and the problem usually goes away in time.
If you have difficulty sleeping for longer than 3 weeks, you might have chronic insomnia.
Sleep Problems That Don’t Go Away…
More Facts about Insomnia
Some other things that might trigger long term anxiety are:
- Divorce – Many divorces drag on for months or even years. And a large number of them get pretty ugly. A long drawn out divorce with emotional issues can be the reason that you lie awake at night.
- Traumatic Events – About 20 years ago, my two oldest daughters were in a serious auto accident. Both had head injuries, my oldest daughter having the most severe injury. The girls were not permitted to ride in cars with their friends. But, my parents were watching them while I was out of town, at a seminar for work, and the girls disobeyed me and went out in a friend’s car. Even though there was nothing that I could have done to prevent the accident, I laid awake at night—for months. I was reliving the agony and tormenting myself, with the thought that I should have been at home. It is common for people who are injured in an accident or who witness traumatic events to have trouble sleeping, as a result.
- Death in the Family – People grieve differently and at different rates. If you lose a spouse or a child, you may have sleepless nights for months.
- Work Related Stress – Difficulty getting along with co-workers, new responsibilities, or more work than normal, can cause you to feel stressed at work. You may lie awake at night thinking about work issues.
- Drugs and Alcohol – Prescription drugs, over the counter drugs and illegal drugs can all interrupt your sleep or prevent you from sleeping. Drinking too much can cause you to lie awake for hours, even if you fell asleep easily at first.
If you have chronic insomnia, you can find relief and get back to sleeping well, using a great hypnosis program by Hypnosis Downloads. You can find it here. Sleep Onset Insomnia Symptoms
Your sleep insomnia can take one or more forms. Some people have difficulty getting to sleep, but they are fine after they fall asleep.
Others awaken during the night, after being asleep. Some awaken too early in the morning. And, finally, some have sleep apnea and awaken many times during the night.
Almost half the people who have sleep problems, have sleep onset insomnia. This means that you have trouble getting to sleep.
Diagnosing this kind of sleep problem gets a little difficult. Many people think they have not been able to get to sleep, when, in fact, they have been sleeping lightly. When awakened from the first stages of sleep, these people swear that they have not been sleeping—when they have been sleeping.
Unfortunately, when you think you can’t get to sleep, your anxiety level rises—and then you do have trouble getting to sleep. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Solution: If you find yourself lying in bed awake for more than 30 minutes, get up and go into another room. Do something boring, like reading a boring book or watching TV—until you feel sleepy.
In addition, relaxation techniques can help you with type of insomnia. When you have trouble getting to sleep, it may be because you are feeling anxious, angry or stressed out.
Sleep Maintenance Insomnia
This kind of sleeplessness occurs when you awaken in the middle of the night, after being asleep. We all dip in and out of wakefulness, but we usually don’t know it.
If you awaken and use the bathroom, and then lie awake for hours, or what seems like hours, this could be your problem.
Here are some of the reasons that you might wake up in the middle of the night:
- Respiratory illness – stuffy nose or coughing
- Alcohol – too much before bedtime
- Caffeine – too close to bedtime
- Drug abuse – prescription or otherwise
- Trips to the bathroom
Chinese traditional medicine attributes this type of sleep problem to a deficiency of yin energy, which can be caused by overwork, emotional strain or poor diet.
A yin deficiency can also include symptoms like: hot flushes, anger, constipation and restlessness.
Early Waking Insomnia
As we get older, we tend to awaken at an earlier hour. And, our sleep actually gets lighter as we age.
Many people seem to awaken at the first sign of light, or as soon as there are noises outside—birds singing, traffic on the road or people moving about. If you are a morning person, this may describe you.
However, if you get awake at 2:00 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep, you could have early waking insomnia. No matter how hard you try to sleep, it just doesn’t happen.
While you can take measures to go back to sleep, sometimes it’s just better to give in and get up. You may find that your mind is clear and that you can think better than later in the day. Doing this once in awhile may help you solve problems and put things into perspective.
Causes of Sleeplessness
If you are wondering about why you can’t sleep, the answer is just not that simple. People have different routines, different work schedules, different habits and different routines—each of which can lead to sleeplessness.
- Shift Work – Shift work, whether you rotate work schedules, or you work at night, can have a detrimental effect on your ability to sleep well. People who work at night sleep longer than those who work during the day—but their sleep is disturbed, and they sleep for shorter periods of time. Their sleep is also lighter, and they spend less time in REM sleep than people who work daytime hours. In addition, when you sleep during the daytime, your hormones get all mixed up, and that leads to poor body repair and growth, and sleep that does not refresh!
- Jet Lag – Anyone who has flown across the country or to another country in another time zone, has experienced jet lag. When you have jet lag, you are sleepy during the day—and unable to sleep at night. You can also develop a headache, loss of appetite and irregular bowel movements. Worst of all, for business travelers, you may have difficulty concentrating. While these sleep disturbance symptoms are temporary, they can be pretty uncomfortable while you are experiencing them.
- Stimulation During the Day – Both over-stimulation and under-stimulation can be a cause of insomnia. If you don’t exercise during the day (under-stimulation), you may not be tired enough to sleep at night. But, physical exercise isn’t the only culprit. If you don’t have enough mental activity during the day, or you are not motivated or you feel unfulfilled, you can have light, unrefreshing sleep. If your life is boring, you may not be sleeping well. On the other hand, if you are over-active physically, especially toward evening, you can have too much adrenaline in your system—leading to sleep problems.
- Drugs and Chemicals – Not only can illegal, street drugs cause sleep insomnia, but also some common drugs that you may use every day:
- Caffeine – Make sure you don’t drink tea, cocoa, cola or hot chocolate later in the day. The caffeine in these drinks can last up to 14 hours.
- Alcohol – While a little drink may help you get to sleep initially, you can have a rebound effect, waking up in the early hours of the morning, unable to sleep.
- Nicotine – Nicotine in cigarettes and chewing tobacco stimulates the nervous system, raises blood pressure and changes your breathing patterns. It can also make you have lighter and broken sleep patterns.
- Prescription Medications – Every single prescription drug has side effects. And a very common side effect is sleep insomnia. If you are having sleep problems and take prescription drugs, check to see if sleep disturbance is one of the side effects.
- Street Drugs – Street drugs can do a lot of things to you—and one of them is causing sleeplessness.
- Psychological or Emotional Factors – Most people who suffer from anxiety or depression have some difficulty sleeping. Anxiety, even temporary anxiety, causes tension and can become one of the causes of sleeplessness for you. And sleeping poorly is actually one of the symptoms of depression. If emotional issues are causing you to have sleepless nights, addressing the emotional issues is your best way to a good night’s sleep.
- Physical Conditions and How to Sleep Better – Your bedroom environment also influences how well you sleep. If things aren’t just right for you to get and stay asleep, you can be lying awake all night—thinking about why you can’t sleep!
What does this mean for you? If you can determine the causes of sleeplessness for you, you can use that information to make changes so that you can alter your environment or routine, so that you can once again get a good night’s sleep!