Trouble sleeping, also known as insomnia, refers to the inability to sleep well at night. It can present as trouble falling asleep, waking up frequently at night, or wakefulness for a long period. This might stem from stress, specific health conditions, or psychological problems. Even some medications might make it hard to fall or stay asleep. Below are some common reasons why individuals cannot get enough rest.
Causes of Sleeping Difficulties
While both a sign and a symptom, trouble sleeping might occur due to several underlying causes, whether due to a medical/psychological condition that needs serious attention or a side-effect of a specific medication.
Blue light exposure
Using your phone right before you sleep significantly affects your sleeping experience. This disturbance stems from the emission of blue light from the screens of such digital devices. Blue light reduces the body’s ability to generate hormones that induce sleep, hence the effect. A common piece of advice for those who cannot sleep is to be sure not to use your phone before bed. Instead, read a book or meditate to wind down.
Decrease calorie intake and dieting
Diet plays a vital role in shaping sleeping patterns. Cutting on calories while dieting might affect sleeping patterns. Trouble sleeping due to stomach growling or aching might be the case if you have significantly lowered your calorie intake. To avoid this, you can increase your protein diet and eat more complex carbohydrates.
While momentarily inducing drowsiness, alcohol affects the quality of your sleep by reducing the total REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is a stage of the sleep cycle that correlates with memory consolidation. Reducing REM sleep alters the quality of sleep and ends up leaving you drowsy throughout the day. It lessens sleep duration and induces wakefulness throughout the night.
Stress and anxiety
Stress can significantly affect your sleep quality and quantity. It prolongs the time required to fall asleep. In turn, decreased amount of sleep might further disrupt sleeping patterns by increasing stress hormones in the body. Both stress and decreased sleep adversely affect the body, causing physical and mental conditions.
Light, temperature, and noise are some factors that constitute the sleeping environment. An ideal environment makes it easier to fall and stay asleep. Consider the following when trying to doze off:
- Light. In response to darkness or dim light, the body produces melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone that helps induce sleep. Prolonged exposure to light during night-time disrupts the circadian rhythm (biological clock), which results in decreased sleep.
- Temperature. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is sensitive to temperature, and in lower temperatures, REM sleep is significantly reduced.
- Noise. High volume sounds might prevent the transition to deep sleep, resulting in several awakenings and decreased quality of sleep.
Drugs such as caffeine, diuretics, anti-hypertensive drugs, and antidepressants might create insomnia in most individuals.
Regular exercise, protein-rich meal intake, and limiting screen time might help with trouble sleeping. Cutting down caffeine and alcohol, as well as consulting your doctor about the side effects of medications you use, might help you better solve the problem.