Unveiling the Root Causes of Sleep Problems

Unveiling the Root Causes of Sleep Problems

In general, most people experience some sleep problems from time to time. But, although it’s quite normal not to be able to get the adequate sleep you need occasionally, facing sleep-related issues regularly can lead to more severe health conditions.

That said, if you are having trouble getting enough sleep on a regular basis, it’s time you take action and try to solve the issue. The first step toward improving your sleep is determining the cause of your sleepless nights. So, let’s begin and explore the common root causes of sleep problems.

What Causes Sleep Problems?

Various factors can cause sleep issues. And, regardless of the cause, the final result of experiencing sleep problems is pretty much the same – a disrupted or exaggerated circadian rhythm. In short, factors contributing to the development of sleep problems and disorders include:

  • Medical issues (such as sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome)
  • Physical disturbances (such as chronic arthritis pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, etc.)
  • Psychiatric disorders (such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.)
  • Environmental issues (such as too bright, too hot, or too loud sleep environment)

Furthermore, a major life change or a stressful event can lead to developing short-term, also known as acute, insomnia. Triggers of acute insomnia might be a job loss or change, moving house or city, illness, death of a family member, etc. With short-term insomnia, symptoms resolve on their own after some time.

On the other hand, long-term, also known as chronic, insomnia can be caused by chronic stress, pain, or depression. To be diagnosed with chronic insomnia, you have to face sleep issues for at least three nights a week for at least three months. And, unfortunately, symptoms don’t go away without professional medical help.

Yet, other factors can also contribute to experiencing sleep problems, including:

  • Genetics – According to research, genetics play a role in developing narcolepsy which is a neurological disorder of sleep regulation. A person suffering from narcolepsy isn’t able to control sleep and wakefulness.
  • Night shift work – As night shift workers cannot sleep when they naturally feel drowsy and their schedules run contrary to their internal body clock, they often tend to develop sleep disorders.
  • Certain medications – Some medications can significantly affect and disturb sleep. For example, some antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and over-the-counter cold medicine can lead to sleep problems
  • Aging –Sleep disorders are pretty common among the elderly population. Indeed, around 50% of those over the age of 65 have some sleep problems or disorders. So basically, sleep problems are a normal part of aging, or perhaps caused by the medications that older people often use.

How to Get Better Sleep?

The most important thing when trying to get a good night’s sleep is following good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene. Here are some tips that might help you get the sleep you need:

  • Follow a strict sleep schedule – in other words, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including on the weekends.
  • Ensure your bedroom is sleep-friendly – this means that your sleep environment should be quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid screens before bedtime – limiting screen time before sleep reduces your exposure to blue light which increases alertness and wakefulness.
  • Mind your menu – you should avoid large and heavy meals close to bedtime, as well as caffeine and alcohol for at least a couple of hours before you go to sleep.
  • Practice regular exercise – regular physical activity during the day will help you doze off more easily at night.