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What Causes Insomnia?

It’s 3:00 am, and You’re Still Awake!

We’ve all had nights where we’ve entered the bedroom tired then found ourselves laying there unable to fall asleep. Some of us have experienced several hours of sound sleep only to awaken and not beInsomnia at 3 am able to fall back to sleep for several hours. It can be frustrating, and can interfere with the next day’s schedule or level of productivity. You awaken feeling unrefreshed, groggy, and possibly irritable. But, when does it become a cause for concern?

There are two types of insomnia, acute and chronic. Acute is short term and can be brought on simply by environmental factors such as excess noise or light. Physical discomfort from aches and pains or an interference in sleep schedule from jet lag or an unfamiliar bed can cause a night or two of sleeplessness, too. Acute insomnia lasts from one to several nights and then most people settle back into a normal sleep pattern.

Often people will experience insomnia for a short time as they go through biological changes from pregnancy, menopause, puberty, or other hormonal imbalances in the system. This tends to be short-lived and corrects itself without medical intervention. Natural remedies, such as herbal tea or supplements, can be beneficial in these cases.

Chronic insomnia, however, continues to be a problem several nights a week for a month or more. The National Sleep Foundation cites that psychiatric or medical conditions can trigger insomnia. Common causes of chronic insomnia are medications used for asthma, allergies, thyroid conditions and more can disrupt sleep. Chronic pain such as patients that suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, chronic back pain, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, or acid reflux can interrupt sleep patterns causing long-term insomnia. Depression and anxiety from sudden or unresolved life changes trigger insomnia; medical treatment should be sought to deal with the cause rather than mask the symptom.

Sometimes something as simple as a lifestyle change can correct insomnia and put you at rest. Dietary triggers are one simple change you can make. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and excessive amounts of sugar can put you at rest; drinking caffeine-free herbal tea before bed can relax the body and help give a good night’s sleep. An increase in exercise can better your chances of sound sleep.

If insomnia continues to be a cause for concern, first, take a look at your lifestyle. Are there simple changes you can make such as implementing a regular sleep schedule? Can you eliminate or reduce the intake of caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine later in the day? If there is still no rest in your future, it may be beneficial to seek medical attention in traditional medicine or holistic medicine.


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