Insomnia Causes
...One or Many?
...So What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia Causes
Pinpointing insomnia causes might be compared to "which oyster contains the pearl". Determining what causes insomnia could take you one attempt or one-thousand. In essence, one must continue to open oysters, until rewarded with peaceful slumber.

It is most unfortunate that many people who fall asleep the millisecond their head hits the pillow expect to wake-up feeling refreshed. This is a fallacy, as it takes an average of about 15-minutes for the non exhausted person to fall asleep.

If you are one of those people who think you are without a sleep issue because you're asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, chances are you are exhausted and sleep deprived. This is a sleep disorder because you never catch up on the sleep you need for optimum health and to be fully functional.

Insomnia Causes

Causes of Chronic Insomnia
Primary sleep disorders usually culminate in chronic insomnia.

Restless Leg Syndrome -where the person experiences uncontrollable urges to get up and move around due to tingling legs. Restless Leg may spin-off from other medical conditions, such as Fibromyalgia.
Circadian Clock Disturbance - Biological clock is thrown-off by night-people having to function in a daytime world or vice-versa.
Poor Sleep Hygiene - Person uses bed for activities other than sleep or sex, such as: eating, watching TV, working or playing on computer or reading.
Sleep Distractions - Individual doesn't sleep enough due to light burning in adjacent room or noise like TV or radio.
Sleep Apnea - Intricate diagnosis due to various causes such as: obesity, heart trouble and brain disorder. Usually evidenced by snoring followed by gasping for breath.

Fatal Familial Insomnia
Fatal Familial insomnia is a genetic disease of the brain, evidenced by insomnia, which progresses in severity and eventually, thalamus degeneration. This is classified as rare disease by Office of Rare Diseases.

Symptoms include excruciating exhaustion, severe anxiety attacks and/or hallucinations possibly leading to dementia.

What Causes Insomnia in Senior Citizens?
Research has proven that as a group, senior citizens do not rest as well as younger people. The slightest sound disturbs their sleep.

Because seniors tend to be more sedentary, decreased activity makes it more difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. Also, they have more opportunity for daytime napping, which deters them from sleeping at night.

From the many sleep workshop I've lead for seniors, I've noticed seniors' insomnia causes are frequently due to bad sleep habits ... habits formed over many years. In fact, most are not aware that they practice unhealthy sleep habits night after night. Healthy and blissful sleeps may be a matter of changing just one habit ... and sometimes many.

On the other hand, chronic pain, anxiety and/or stress are also insomnia causes in seniors.

Insomnia causes2

Prescription Drugs
Insomnia is a side-effect of commonly prescribed medications and, if you can believe it, sleep drugs. Drugs containing caffeine such as headache relievers, weight loss tablets or decongestants; allergy medications, and some blood pressure medications (see below) and anti-depressants contribute to sleep loss.

Medical Problems
Many medical problems cause insomnia (and conversely, sleep deprivation is often linked to major health issues) ... such as diabetes (frequent urination); chronic pain from arthritis or fibromyalgia; gastoesophageal reflux disease (heartburn) and long-term illnesses, such as cancer.

Fact:
1) Approximately 22 million people (in the U.S. alone) take beta blockers

2) Beta blockers suppress nighttime melatonin secretion ... (melatonin production is vital for promoting quality sleep for good health, vitality and longevity)

... Is it any wonder why masses of people (particularly those on high blood pressure medication such as atenolol or metoprolol) suffer from chronic insomnia?

Wow! ... better than drugs!
A Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts study observed hypertensive patients treated with beta blockers. They were given melatonin supplements (2.5 mg nightly) for 3 weeks.

The study found a significant increase in total sleep time (by 36 minutes) and also an increase in sleep efficiency and decrease in sleep onset latency (time to fall asleep).

Furthermore, there was no tolerance nor rebound sleep disturbances after melatonin supplementation was stopped (a common effect of sleeping pills) ... In fact, there was a "carryover effect" – the time to fall asleep remained significantly shortened the night after discontinuation of the melatonin supplementation.

What Are Common Insomnia Causes?
Stress is a leading cause of insomnia. The death of close friends and family, loss of job, financial problems or divorce may initially cause sleep loss. When the situation resolves, the person may return to normal sleep patterns.

Chronic stress can occur due to long-term problems and the related anxiety. Sleep difficulties related to chronic situations can lead to chronic insomnia.

Anxiety is the terrible feeling something is about to happen. People with anxiety may stay awake worrying about impending doom. Or, they worry about getting a good night's sleep.

Depression is one of those "double-edged swords" we hear about. When someone is depressed, they tend to either sleep too much or can't sleep at all. If you don't currently have depression, your chronic inability to sleep can lead to depression.

Eating Habits

Many don't realize that eating habits can be another one of insomnia causes. For those who experience sleep troubles, even on an infrequent basis, try eating your evening meal at least four hours before bedtime, and cutting back or better still, eliminating stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar.

Heavy snacking before bedtime is also a culprit, especially for people who tend to have heartburn. If you must snack, snack on tryptophan-rich foods such as natural nuts and seeds (whole or spreads), whole grains, fruit

See my experience snacking on grapefruit by clicking here. My other favorites are apple wedges dipped in tahani (sesame seed spread) or bananas with plain yogurt in a bowl or as a smoothie.

Try following some basic sleep hygiene tips and in no time you'll have your insomnia causes licked.

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Thanks to Ollie Crafoord, Stockholm, Sweden www.olliecrafoord.se for her excellent depiction of many insomnia causes. How many can you identify? Drugs photograph courtesy of U.S. Government Works. See important FDA public health information on drugs.

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