Friday, November 25, 2011

What Causes Insomnia? by Paul Stevens

One of the worst things ever is to suffer from Insomnia or sleeplessness. Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you either do not sleep well, or have difficulty sleeping. Obviously, if you do not get enough sleep, it can lead to a host of health problems and make you quite lethargic and tired. If you suffer from insomnia for more than a few weeks, it is time to see your doctor and get treated. So what causes insomnia? There can be many reasons why you suffer from insomnia - it could be just the one factor, or a combination of them. These can be broadly divided into:

- Psychological causes

- Physical causes

- A temporary incident

Let us look at the psychological causes of insomnia first. These include anxiety, stress and depression.

- Anxiety is one of the most common reasons. Anxiety makes you feel helpless, tense and nervous. You may be anxious because someone made you feel that way at work. You could be worrying about someone or about your financial status. Or it could be a problem with a relationship. As a result, the anxiety does not let you sleep well.

- Stress is a major factor for insomnia. Depending on how you handle emotional and physical stress, this too could cause your insomnia. Stress can also result from how you respond to various life situations.

- Depression causes disturbances in your mood, making you feel sad and hopeless. Depression is known to cause sleeping disorders. The combination of insomnia and depression can be quite hard to deal with.

While psychological reasons can cause insomnia, a lack of sleep can in turn result in psychological problems. The two conditions can become a vicious cycle. There are also physical causes for insomnia. In women, hormonal changes like PMS, periods, pregnancy and menopause can result in insomnia. When the levels of melatonin, the sleep control hormone decrease with age, sleeplessness is a common problem. This happens as we age. Apart from these, there are medical conditions like allergies, cardiac disease, hypertension, etc. that can cause insomnia. Even pain can keep you from sleeping well. In some families, insomnia seems to be a genetic issue, although there is no concrete proof to support this. It is also possible to suffer from temporary insomnia, which is triggered by certain events. If you have just experienced a major life change, where you lost a loved one or had an argument with someone, you could suffer from insomnia as a reaction. Insomnia can also hit you if you are jet lagged and traveled through different time zones. For those who suddenly changed their work timing to the night shift, adjusting to the new sleeping habits can be difficult. Think about whether you take any prescription medicines which could cause insomnia. You can also have trouble sleeping if you have more than your share of alcohol or coffee. Insomnia is common in those who have recently moved house or cities, but this is temporary and more of an adjustment issue. The good news is that you can get professional help right away and tackle these causes for insomnia. There are doctors and sleep specialists who can help you cope.