Insomnia Causes & Treatment

woman yawning

Have you ever been so exhausted that you fall into bed, thinking you'll fall asleep when your head hits your pillow, only to lay there for hours with your mind reeling about something you have no control over?

You know that a good night's sleep is crucial to your own well-being, but are powerless when it comes to something that should come so naturally -- falling asleep. There's nothing more frustrating than suffering with insomnia the night before a busy day. Not only does it make your mind groggy for tasks on your to-do list, it shows in your face and manner.

One thing for sure, having trouble sleeping is a common complaint among those who are under significant stress or simply going through changes in life, positive or negative. By understanding the common causes of insomnia and what you can do about it, you're well on your way to getting the beauty sleep you need to look good and function properly.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep long enough to feel revitalized in the morning, and stay alert throughout the day. It is a common sleep disorder among both men and women who have problems falling asleep or wake up several times a night. Insomnia can last for days and weeks. If it lasts for months, it is considered chronic.

Common Causes

Struggling to get a good night's sleep isn't only a problem for older people. In today's fast-paced society, sleep disorders are becoming more common in younger generations when pressures mount. Causes include:

  • Depression
  • Stress or grief
  • Anxiety
  • Life changes such as moving, getting married, or a new job
  • Physical illness or pain
  • Environment
  • Drugs and medication, including alcohol, prescription drugs, and nicotine in cigarettes

Home Remedies

If you suffer from insomnia for more than a few days, it's best to consult your doctor for an in-depth look at why you have difficulty sleeping and what can be done. For the time being, you can help yourself with some easy home remedies to alleviate your symptoms and help you fall asleep.

  • Avoid napping in the daytime hours.
  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and rise at the same time every day.
  • Keep a notepad on your nightstand so you can write down things that you're afraid you'll forget.
  • Adjust your environment. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, control lighting and noise.
  • Avoid caffeine. Beverages such as coffee, cappuccino and soda can make it difficult to fall asleep, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  • Don't eat large meals before bed. Avoid spicy, rich foods that can cause havoc on your stomach.
  • Relax first with a warm bath and aromatherapy.
  • Drink warm milk, herbal tea or hot chocolate to soothe your tummy.
  • If you can't sleep, get up and occupy yourself until you feel you can.
  • Try some sound therapy with a machine or CD player. Soothing sounds such as an ocean, waterfall, or white noise, set at just the right volume can help you relax and fall asleep.
  • Exercise daily but not before going to bed.
  • Never take over-the-counter sleeping pills if you're taking other medications without consulting your doctor first.
  • Develop a bedtime routine such as reading a magazine or book.
  • If your mattress is not comfortable, splurge for a new one.
  • Visualization. Try putting yourself on a warm beach in the afternoon or sleeping under the stars on a peaceful summer night.
  • Keep a diary only when you have trouble sleeping to help you pinpoint the most likely times you suffer from insomnia. Some people can't sleep when the seasons change. Just knowing why adds comfort when you know it will soon end.

*This page is provided as an information resource and is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice.

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