Are you suffering from insomnia?

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Insomnia is a condition that affects your normal sleeping patterns. If you stay up late because you find it difficult to sleep, then you may have insomnia. Averagely, an adult requires between 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function well. Losing sleep hurts your health.

While insomnia may be a temporary problem for some, it can lead to life-threatening health issues for others. Specialists argue that insomnia is not a sleeping disorder in itself, but a symptom of other underlying issues.

How can you identify insomnia?

You have difficulty falling asleep
Waking up earlier than you desire
Waking often during the night and have trouble going back to sleep
You are always tired and sleepy during the day
You experience tension and headaches most parts of the day
Difficulty with concentration
Worrying about sleep
Loss of memory
Mood swings and irritability
Clumsiness and increase in accidents
There are different types of insomnia

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Insomnia varies in the degree of persistence. If it is short term, it is labelled as acute insomnia, while long-term is chronic insomnia. Severe insomnia can last for a month while chronic insomnia occurs three times a week,mostly at least three months.
What is the direct cause of your lack of or difficult finding sleep? Primary insomnia means you are having sleep issues, which do not directly result from medical conditions that you may have. If you are suffering from health conditions that consequently result in insomnia, then that is categorized as secondary insomnia.

What could be causing your insomnia?

Health issues and mental conditions
A serious illness can interrupt your sleep directly or indirectly. In this case, insomnia either becomes part of the problem or a symptom associated with the problem. Health-related insomnia is usually diagnosed as chronic because it is persistent. Medical issues that may cause insomnia include cancer, sleep apnoea, diabetes, asthma, acid reflux, and Alzheimer's disease among others.

Mental conditions are known to affect brain functioning. For example anxiety disorders such PTSD may cause you to have shock impulses consequently disrupting your sleep.

Certain prescription medications may upset your normal sleeping patterns. Heart medications, anti-depressants, ADHD medications, and anti-smoking medication are known to affect both the quantity and quality in sleep. The chemicals in these medications stimulate the body causing you to be active and alert.

Interference in normal sleep scheduled
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Regular change in your sleep patterns can affect the functioning of your brain. If you are a shift worker who is continually changing their sleep hours, you gradually develop insomnia. The change in sleep schedules will affect the minds clockwork, and you may end up developing nervous sleeping habits. Jetlag, short naps and overworking are other irregular patterns that may interfere with your regular sleeping schedule.

Poor eating habits
Certain foods and eating habits are known to contribute to the development of insomnia. Caffeine and nicotine are potent stimulants. They can stay in your body for up to eight hours. If you are known to take coffee or smoke a cigarette or two before bed, then this might be the reason you are not having enough sleep.

Hormone shifts
Women on their menstrual periods experience regular changes in their hormones. During the cycle, hot flashes, night sweats, and stress may play a significant role in developing insomnia.

Environmental factors
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In the absence of light, your brain produces melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that sends a sleep signal to the brain, and that enables you to rest. Exposure to light can make it harder for you to sleep by creating alertness and preventing the production of melatonin.

Noises at night are disruptive. Your body responds to sound even when you are sleeping.  Loud noises interfere with your sleep and make you anxious and irritated.

Stress and Depression
Sleep problems may represent emotional discomfort. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, your brain's ability to functionally rest may be interrupted.  Stress issues that may lead to insomnia include;

Being overwhelmed by responsibilities

Overthinking about past events


Worrying about the future

Here is how you can manage insomnia

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Try going to bed at the same time each night to prevent shifts and interferences with your sleeping habits. Set a sleep schedule and limit the number of naps you take to create a healthy body clock and consequently healthy sleep.

Avoid meals containing nicotine and caffeine. You should also avoid heavy meals before bed and invest in good foods for better sleep. Foods with naturally occurring melatonin will promote the brain's ability to induce sleep. Such foods include milk, tomatoes, nuts, rice, and olives.

Create a suitable and relaxing environment. Darkness is essential for sleep; you should keep your room dark and quiet to encourage your brain to produce the sleep-stimulating hormone.

Deal with stress, anxiety, and depression long before you go to bed. When you discuss stressful situations that may lead to worry, you increase tension in your body and develop a racing heartbeat. If you are unable to relax, you may stay awake for hours.

Get regular exercise. Expert’s research shows that training can improve the quality of your sleep drastically. Exercise helps reduce stress and can tire you out leading your brain to induce rest. Be cautious about the timing, activity increases your heart rate and body temperature and might make you active before tiring you out.

Present your sleeping problems to a doctor or counselor. Chronic insomnia may be challenging to treat; counselors provide behavioral therapy that can help relieve insomnia related to mental and psychological disorders. Doctors can prescribe medicine that may help you establish a regular sleep pattern.

Final note

Many people have had sleep difficulties one time or the other. In some circumstances, these difficulties disappear, but a number of them develop into insomnia. Insomnia may also be a symptom of a lurking medical condition.  Recognition, information, and awareness may be the key to fighting this sleep stealing diseases.

woman sleeping with a frown on face

(Contributed by Nirdesh)

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