Insomnia (trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep) is the most common sleep problem for America's adults, according to National Sleep Foundation polls. More than 1/2 of adults in America (54%) said they experienc ed at least one symptom of insomnia a few nights per week; 1/3 (33%) reported having a symptom every night or almost every night in the past year. Insomnia can last for only one night, a few weeks or may be a chronic problem.
What causes Insomnia?
- Psychological Factors - Stress can cause insomnia. Identifying the cause and learning how to relax, in spite of the problems causing stress, can help, even if the actual cause still persists. Early morning awakenings are one of the symptoms of depression. Treatment of depression or other psychological problems can improve sleep.
- Stimulants - Caffeine and Nicotine, even if they do not prevent you from falling asleep, can disrupt sleep and affect sleep quality. Medications also interrupt sleep onset and the overall quality of sleep. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you take.
- Alcohol - This may make you sleepy, but can disrupt the sleep that follows. People who snore loudly may develop Sleep Apnea with alcohol.
- Erratic Hours - Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends, as well as working shifts can disrupt sleep. Regular bed and wake times promote better sleep.
- Inactivity - People who are fit sleep better than people who do not exercise. Exercise during the day improves sleep at night.
- Learned Behaviors - Staying in bed, tossing and turning or watching the clock when you can't sleep, just makes you anxious.
- Environmental Factors - Make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet.
- Breathing Problems - Some loud snorers may stop breathing during sleep. This is called Sleep Apnea. These disturbances can cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movements - In some people, restlessness or periodic leg or arm twitching can occur during the night and cause sleep disruption and frequent awakenings.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux - Many people experience heartburn or the backing up of stomach contents into the throat. When this occurs during sleep it can cause awakenings. Elevating the head of the bed can help prevent this.
- Pain - People who experience pain, either acutely or chronically, may have difficulty sleeping. Making sure your bed is comfortable and following the guidelines for Good Sleep Hygiene can help.
Read more from the National Sleep Foundation.