Insomnia causes vary from person to person. For some people, it can be caused by psychiatric or chronic medical conditions, unhealthy sleeping habits, biological factors or abuse of substances. If you find that you can't sleep or struggle to stay asleep you could be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia can leave you feeling irritable, groggy and unrefreshed so it's important that you understand the possible insomnia causes in order to treat your condition and get back to sleeping properly. Here's our round-up of possible insomnia causes.
1. You’re doing too much before bed
If you find that you can't sleep because your mind is too active it could be that you're doing too much before you settle down. In the hour before you go to bed, many people say they find themselves completing household chores, managing childcare or spending time on the internet - with some even working on job-related tasks.
Working right up until you go to bed means you don't have time to wind down meaning you won't be relaxed enough to drift off. If you find that you can't sleep on a regular basis, try changing your routine and spend the last hour before bed doing something relaxing. Try reading a book or taking a bath - whatever makes you feel relaxed. Try to avoid backlit screens if you can too as these can affect your sleep-wake cycle.
2. Medical insomnia causes
There are a number of medical conditions that can be linked to insomnia. Sometimes, a medical condition is itself the cause of insomnia, but in other cases, symptoms caused by the condition are more likely to be the reason you can't sleep, rather than the condition itself. Certain symptoms, such as chronic pain, for example, can make you very uncomfortable and therefore make it harder to sleep. Other medical insomnia causes include:
- Sinus allergies
- Reflux and other gastrointestinal problems
- Parkinson's disease and other neurological conditions
- Lower back pain
Many medications prescribed for the common cold, high blood pressure, asthma, thyroid conditions and nasal allergies can also be insomnia causes, so talk to your doctor if you take these medications and find you can't sleep.
Insomnia can also be a symptom of other, underlying sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome is identified as an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs during the night. Sufferers often find their condition worsens during the transition from waking to sleeping, which makes fallings asleep and staying asleep much harder. This could be why you can't sleep and could be one of the reasons for your insomnia. If you think you might have restless leg syndrome, talk to your doctor.
If you can't sleep on a regular basis, it's a good idea to see a doctor for a health review and consider whether you might have any underlying medical issues or sleep disorders could be contributing to your inability to sleep.
3. Your hormones are out of whack
Other insomnia causes are linked to your hormones. Women, in particular, are more prone to sleep disorders due to the fluctuation of their hormone levels in relation to their reproductive cycles. In particular, women may find they can't sleep during menstruation often because of the uncomfortable feeling and changes in their mood.
Pregnancy also affects your hormones and as such, creates disturbances to your sleep. Increased production of the hormone progesterone during early stages of pregnancy will also cause you to need the toilet more during the night, which will cause you to wake up more regularly. While the size of your belly in later stages may also lead to you feeling uncomfortable which may mean you struggle to sleep.
Then during the menopause, women experience a drop in progesterone and oestrogen which can lead to night-time hot flashes - another insomnia cause.
4. The link between insomnia and depression
Insomnia can also be caused by psychiatric conditions such as depression. Mental health struggles can make it hard to sleep and insomnia itself can lead to mood swings and shifts in hormone levels. This can worsen the effects of a mental health condition and insomnia at the same time. Many sleep problems may be a symptom of depression, with the risk of severe insomnia being much higher in patients who suffer from depression.
5. Insomnia and anxiety
Most adults find that when they can't sleep, it's because they have something on their mind which is causing them to worry or feel anxious. While it's totally normal to feel nervous or worry if this starts to interfere regularly with your sleep it could be one of your insomnia causes. It's important that you understand the symptoms of anxiety that can lead to insomnia. These include:
- Excessive tension
- Being caught up in thought about previous and past events
- Feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities
- A general feeling of being overstimulated.
It's clear that these symptoms of anxiety can affect your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep and it's no surprise. Anxiety is often linked to insomnia the quiet and inactivity of night-time often causes the mind to wander, bringing on stressful thoughts or nerves and fears that prevent you from sleeping.
When this occurs on a number of nights over a prolonged period of time, you may find that your anxiousness extends to feeling anxious about or dread going to bed, because of the fear that you won't be able to sleep. This is then how your insomnia and anxiety feed off each other. You can speak to your doctor about treating your anxiety and insomnia to help you start sleeping better again.
6. You’re napping too late in the day
Naps can be great if you need a little boost of energy - but be cautious. One of the major insomnia causes is napping for too long or too late in the day. If you really feel the need to nap, keep it under 40 minutes and possibly no later than early afternoon.
7. You're using the wrong mattress
Having the right mattress is crucial to a great night's sleep. If you find that you can't sleep because you feel uncomfortable in bed, it could be that your mattress is old, worn, or simply not right for you.
With the Sonno mattress, you can take a 100-night risk-free trial to ensure that our mattress is right for you. Take a look at our website to find out more.