Situations and Conditions That can Cause Insomnia

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If you suffer from insomnia, you are certainly not alone. Approximately 40 million people in the United States experience insomnia to some degree. Insomnia is marked by difficulty falling asleep, frequently waking up during the night or waking up too early in the morning. There may be one main cause of insomnia, but there are often several factors that contribute to the condition. When you understand the causes of your insomnia, you can work with a doctor to develop the best management techniques possible.

Insomnia and Stress

One of the biggest causes of insomnia is stress. We all know how difficult it can be to sleep well after a busy day at work, or before a major trip or a job interview. Many of us end up thinking about money, work or health issues when we are lying in bed at night — a sure way to prevent a good night's sleep. If you are going through a divorce, have just lost your job or have recently lost a loved one, you are also far more likely to experience insomnia.

Insomnia and Altered Sleeping Habits

Stress is by no means the only cause of insomnia. Even those of us who don't consider ourselves to be particularly stressed can have trouble falling and staying asleep. A change in sleeping habits, like sleeping in the spare room, in a friend's room or at a hotel can often cause sleeplessness. Those who work the night shift or alternating shifts can often have trouble falling asleep and adjusting to a new routine. Even staying up later on the weekends can make it difficult to sleep on Sunday night.

Insomnia and Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions can also contribute to insomnia, such as arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure. If you suffer from allergies, and especially if they are worse at night, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. Conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, hyperthyroidism, heart disease and Parkinson's disease can also trigger insomnia. And, as most women will readily attest to, many a sleepless night can be blamed on pregnancy, menopause symptoms and premenstrual syndrome.

Insomnia and Travel

If you have ever flown a long distance, especially on an overnight flight, you know how bad jet lag can be and how easily it can cause insomnia. The more time zones you are flying across, the worse the insomnia tends to be. Although there are plenty of suggested remedies available, the only really effective way to treat jet lag is to try to acclimate to the new time zone immediately and only sleep at night.

Insomnia and Depression
If you are suffering from depression, you may have a higher risk of suffering from insomnia. On the other hand, depression can also cause people to sleep too much. Most people struggling with depression are worried or preoccupied. This alone can cause sleepless nights. However, depression can also cause chemical imbalances in the brain — another cause of insomnia.

Insomnia and Age

Insomnia tends to get worse as we get older. Older people tend to be less active during the day and they may also develop other sleep-related disorders. Our bodies also produce a hormone known as melatonin, which helps to control our sleep. As we get older, the production of melatonin is decreased. Generally by the time we reach 60, very little of it is being produced, resulting in the increased likelihood of sleep problems. Insomnia is common among people in their 60s, although older men are more likely to suffer than women.

Insomnia and Stimulants

Most of us know that consuming too much caffeine too close to bedtime can cause insomnia. Even drinking coffee late in the afternoon can keep you awake. Tea and soda are also stimulants that should be avoided late at night.
Alcohol may actually make you fall asleep, but ultimately it can lead to insomnia as it tends to produce sleep that is shallow and easily disrupted. To get a healthy and complete night of rest, it's best to avoid alcohol before bed.

Not only is smoking bad for your heart and lungs, but it can also prevent you from sleeping well. Nicotine is a stimulant that affects the brain and can adversely affect the body's ability to relax. While nicotine withdrawal may cause an initial, temporary bout of insomnia, you'll develop much healthier sleeping habits once your body readjusts.

If you suffer from insomnia, as around 90 percent of us will at some point during our lives, there are various management techniques and remedies available. Understanding the direct causes and triggers of your sleepless night is a big step toward effectively managing insomnia.

Leslie Silver is a freelance writer who writes about self improvement and insomnia help.

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