Sleep is one of the most important aspects of a good and healthy life. Even missing a single night’s full sleep can feel miserable, so when it starts to happen more often, it’s definitely worth addressing, even if there are no major health complaints outside of that inability to sleep as you should. However, there are other issues that can also lead to a poor night’s sleep that you might be able to address. Here, we’re going to look at a few of the medical causes as well as what you can do to address them.
When insomnia gets dangerous
Missing a night’s sleep because you stayed up all night working or because you were out partying too late is nothing to worry about. It’s best to get the sleep that you need, but a night or two without a night of good sleep isn’t very likely to have any long-term health repercussions. However, if you regularly have trouble getting to sleep, it can affect your health in a range of ways. Insomnia can lead to regular mood issues, fatigue throughout the day, worsening stress, worsening physical pain for people with chronic conditions, and a higher risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and sexual dysfunction.
Do you have a real routine at night?
It might sound like something of a redundancy, but if you don’t maintain a regular sleep time, then it’s very likely that you’re going to start experiencing insomnia. Inconsistency in sleep time can be caused by traveling across time zones, irregular shifts, working at night, and many more issues. Some people do fall into a habit of biphasic sleep, which is effectively when their sleep is split into two periods of sleep throughout the day. Biphasic sleep does not necessarily need to be harmful to you, and if you find that you are napping and having trouble sleeping through the evening, adopting it as your sleep routine may actually help you avoid some of the after-effects of insomnia.
Are you feeling stressed out?
There is not a single person who is immune to feeling stressed, often after a hard day or some tough events such as a job loss. You might experience a night’s worse sleep if you’re stressed out for a night. However, if you’re experiencing longer periods of irritability, fatigue, disorganized thoughts, and even headaches during moments of stress, then you might be dealing with chronic stress. Addressing your mental health, such as talking to a counselor or asking your doctor about stress relief medication can also improve your sleep. Stress and sleep have a cyclical relationship, which can see one making the other worse. A lack of sleep leads to increased production of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which can, in turn, make it more difficult to sleep due to the symptoms of stress.
The role of mental illness
Stress is not the only aspect of mental health that can play a significant role in the quality and quantity of your sleep at night. Mental illness, in general, is a contributing factor in more than 50% of people who experience insomnia. Depression is one of the most common causes of insomnia, but there are also issues such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and more that could play a major factor. Look to the signs of mental illness aside from sleep changes, such as changes in appetite, feeling excessively down, having trouble maintaining thoughts, as well as withdrawal from friends and activities that you used to enjoy. Mental health needs to be addressed comprehensively with the help of a doctor for the greatest chance of improving it.
Chronic pain and sleep
It’s only natural that it might be hard to sleep when you’re in pain. People who experience chronic pain, whether due to back problems, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, or otherwise can very often have trouble getting to sleep at night. What’s more, the release of cortisol can even exacerbate certain kinds of pain by causing the muscles to tense, a very common conundrum for people with back pain. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to chronic pain, then it could be worth taking the time to look at the potential for pain therapies, from massage therapy to surgical treatments like a nerve block. Talk to your doctor to find the options best suited to you.
Could changes in your hormones be to blame?
There are a lot of times in a woman’s life when she can experience changes in her hormones. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are some of the most common of these. With changes in hormones can come a whole range of symptoms that can make you much more uncomfortable at night. Stress is one such symptom, but a more physical ailment is hot flushes and the night sweats they can cause. Using lighter and natural materials for bedding and pajamas can help, but hormone replacement therapy can help you get right to the root of the issue. Low progesterone, which is very common with menopause, causes sleep disturbances in a majority of women who experience it.
A ringing in your ears
One health issue that is very often associated with a sudden increase in difficulty sleeping is tinnitus. Rather than being a specific condition, tinnitus is the word used to describe a symptom: hearing noises that have no discernable external cause. It can be caused by a range of things, it can come from the ears or be purely imagined, and it can be intermittent or much more common. Visiting an audiologist is always the recommended first step as not only can they check for hearing loss, often associated with tinnitus, but they can recommend steps such as using white noise machines or TRT, a therapy that is designed to make it easier to ignore the sounds of tinnitus.
When snoring is more than just snoring
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with a start on a regular basis, then it could be that sleep apnea is a cause that you should look more closely at. A lot of people snore without there being anything particularly sinister at the root of it. However, if you have been noted to snore very loudly, you find yourself gasping or choking as you wake up, and you feel excessively sleepy during the day, it may well be sleep apnea, which can be managed with the help of medical equipment like a CPAP machine. It can also be managed by losing weight (if you are overweight), exercising regularly, using nasal decongestants, and quitting alcohol and smoking.
Could your medications be causing your issues with sleep?
As often as other health issues can be the cause of a bad night’s sleep, the same can be true of some medications, as well. There are plenty of drugs that have sleeplessness as a potential side effect, such as drugs for heart disease, thyroid issues, depression, and even allergies. If you’re finding that you’re having trouble sleeping and your medication lists it as one of the side effects, you might want to talk to your doctor about changing the medication, whether it’s trying something else, lowering the dose, or being prescribed something that can help you get to sleep in spite of them.
Insomnia should never be left unaddressed. However, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, then it’s even more worth the closer look at you could improve your health across the board with the appropriate treatments.