Insomnia is very common these days. It is more specifically common attribute that a person acquires as and when he ages. It can be generally be caused by the psychiatric and the medical conditions, the unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. The victim of insomnia in most cases has extremely low amount of sleep or no sleep at all. We can often see that our grandparents have these symptoms. This is something that can be very bad for their fragile health and care should be provided to them, so that this problem could be curtailed. In some extreme cases, consulting a doctor could be a good option too. Now that we know about insomnia in general, let us look at its various causes, to understand the problem better, and to take measures to remedy the same. The causes can further be bifurcated into the following categories:
Medical Causes of Insomnia
There are many medical conditions, some mild and the others more serious, that can lead to insomnia. In some cases, a medical condition itself causes the insomnia, while in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause great amount of discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to fall asleep. Examples of medical conditions that can cause insomnia are:
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease
- Nasal/sinus allergies
- Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux
- Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism
- Chronic pain
- Low back pain
The medications such as those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, the high blood pressure, heart disease, the thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and also for depression can also cause insomnia. In addition, insomnia may be a symptom of the underlying sleep disorders. For example:
- The restless legs syndrome- it is commonly understood as a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of the needing to move his or her legs-it too can lead to insomnia. Patients with restless legs syndrome typically experience the worse symptoms in the later part of the day, specifically during the periods of the inactivity, and in the transition from the wake to sleep, which means that falling asleep and staying asleep can be really difficult.
Sleep apnea- is another sleep disorder linked to the insomnia. With sleep apnea, a person's airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during the sleep, leading to series of pauses in the breathing and a drop in oxygen levels. This causes a person to wake up briefly, but repeatedly throughout the night. People with the sleep apnea sometimes report experiencing insomnia.
If you see your loved ones or yourself have trouble in sleeping on a regular basis, it's a good idea to review your health and think about whether any underlying medical issues or the sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep problems. In some cases, there are simple steps that can be taken to improve the sleep such as:
- avoiding the bright lighting while going to sleep and
- Trying to limit possible distractions, such as a TV, or computer, or pets.
While in other cases, it's important to talk to your doctor to figure out a proper course of action. You should not simply accept the poor sleep as a way of life-talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist for immediate help and care.
Insomnia & Melancholy
Insomnia can be caused by the psychiatric conditions such as depression. Psychological struggles can make it quite hard to sleep, insomnia itself can bring on changes in mood, and shifts in the hormones and the physiology can lead to both psychiatric issues and insomnia at the same time. Sleep problems may represent a symptom of depression, and the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major depressive disorders. It's important to know that symptoms of depression. These symptoms include ones such as:
- low energy,
- loss of interest or motivation,
- feelings of remorse or sadness or hopelessness
- And insomnia can be even linked, and one can make the other quite worse.
Well, the good news is that both are treatable regardless of which came first.
Insomnia & Nervousness
Most adults and the aged people, have had some trouble with sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but for some it's a pattern that interferes with the sleep on a regular basis. Anxiety symptoms that can lead to insomnia include:
- Excessive worrying about the future events
- Feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities
- Getting caught up in the thoughts about past events
- A general feeling of being revved up or rather overstimulated
It's not hard to see why these symptoms of general anxiety can make it quite difficult to sleep. Anxiety may be associated with the onset insomnia that is to say (trouble falling asleep), or the maintenance insomnia (waking up during the night and not being quite able to return to sleep). In either case, the quiet or the inactivity of night often brings on stressful thoughts or even fears that keep a person rather awake.
When this happens for many nights (or many months), you might start to feel a lot more anxiousness, dread, or even panic at just the prospect of not sleeping. This is how anxiety and insomnia can feed each other and it becomes a cycle that should be interrupted through the treatment. There are cognitive and mind-body techniques that help people with the anxiety settle into sleep, and overall healthy sleep practices that can improve the sleep for many people with anxiety and insomnia.
Insomnia & General Lifestyle
Insomnia can be also triggered or perpetuated by your behaviors and the sleep patterns. Unhealthy lifestyles and the sleep habits can create insomnia on their own (without any underlying psychiatric or medical problem), or they can make insomnia caused by the other problems worse.
Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:
- You work at your home in the evenings. This can make it hard to quite unwind, and it can also make you feel preoccupied when it comes time to sleep. The light from your computer could also make your brain a lot more alert.
- You take naps (even if they are short) in the afternoon. Short naps can be helpful for some people, but for the others they make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
- You sometimes sleep in the later parts of the day to make up for lost sleep. This can confuse your body's clock and make it difficult to fall asleep, again the following night.
- If you are a shift worker (meaning that you work irregular hours). Non-traditional hours can confuse your body's clock, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day, or if your schedule changes somewhat periodically.
Some cases of insomnia start out with an acute episode but then turn into a longer-term problem.
Insomnia & Food
Certain substances and the activities, including the eating patterns, can contribute to the problem of insomnia. If you can't sleep, review the following lifestyle factors to see if one or more could be rather affecting you, and avoid having the same:
- Alcoholis a sedative. It can make you fall asleep initially, but may also cause to disrupt your sleep later in the night.
- Caffeineis a form of stimulant. Most people understand the alerting power of the caffeine and use it in the morning to help them start the day and feel productive. Caffeine in moderation is fine for most of the people, but if consumed in excessive quantities, caffeine can cause insomnia. Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as eight hours, so the effects are quite long lasting. If you have the problem of insomnia, do not consume food or drinks with caffeine too close to bedtime.
- Nicotineis also a stimulant and can cause insomnia as well. Smoking cigarettes or even tobacco products close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night. Smoking is quite damaging to your health. If you smoke, you should stop, especially if you are above 40.
- Heavy mealsclose to bedtime can also disrupt your sleep. The best practice is to eat lightly before the bedtime. When you eat too much in the evening, it can because you discomfort and make it hard for your body to settle and relax. Spicy foods can also cause the problem of heartburn and interfere with your sleep.
Natural Remedies for a better sleep for all ages
- Take a warm bath: There's nothing quite like sinking into a good old warm tub to wash the stress of everyday life away and it also feels great to crawl into the bed nice and clean. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, lavender for instance, to get the soothing benefits of the aromatherapy as well.
- Sip something: Making up a nightly drink to help you fall asleep has the double benefits of the drink itself, lulling you off to the dreamland, and the ritual of drinking it which tells your brain and body "it absolutely ok, it's time to relax". Doing something like reading while you drink your night time beverage adds a sort of nice dimension to this habit.
- Meditate: Take some time before you actually crawl in bed to meditate and clear your mind of the cluttering thoughts. Thinking too much, as we all know, can keep you awake for as long as hours, this is because then you churn over the same thoughts again and again? Getting a good night's rest is not just about your body, but also about relaxing your mind.
Natural remedies for Insomnia in the Elderly
- Naturally boost your melatonin levels.The artificial lights at night can actually suppress your body's production of the melatonin, the hormone that actually makes you sleepy. Using a low-wattage bulbs where safe to do so, and turning off the TV and computer at least one hour before bed could also help.
- Don't read from a backlit device at night, such as an iPad. If you use a rather portable electronic device to read, use an eReader that is not quite backlit, i.e. one that requires an additional light source, it could help you sleep better.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and even cool,and your bed is quite comfortable. Noise, light, and the heat can cause sleep problems. Try using a sleep mask to help block out the light.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep. By not really working, watching TV, or using your computer in bed, your brain will actually associate the bedroom with just sleep.
- Move the bedroom clocks out of view.The light can disrupt your sleep and anxiously watching the minutes tick by is quite a surefire recipe for the insomnia.