Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, means you have trouble falling and staying asleep at least three times a week for three months or more. It can also be triggered by things like endless stress, difficult emotions you haven’t processed, or constant travel that messes up your schedule. However, this type of insomnia can also occur as a side effect of a deeper issue, such as: B. an underlying health condition, medication regimen, or substance use.
What Causes Insomnia?
Let’s dive deeper into the most common reasons why you might miss sleep:
1. You are afraid to fall asleep.
“In a way, insomnia is like an anxiety disorder because you’re not getting enough sleep,” says Jason Ong, Ph.D., director of behavioral sleep medicine at SleepCharge by Nox Health and associate associate professor of sleep medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine SELF. “Fear of sleep and attempts to induce sleep perpetuate the problem by inadvertently disrupting your body’s sleep regulation.”
A common response is to try to fix the problem by making more effort to fall asleep. Movements like hopping into bed when you think you should be (but aren’t) sleepy simply increase the pressure. In turn, you tend to feel even more restless and alert.
2. You have a restless sleep pattern.
For example, if you’re a jet setter traveling across time zones for work, or a shift worker trying to sleep during the day, it can cause trouble sleeping. The root of the problem is known as circadian misalignment, or trying to sleep at times that don’t align with your internal body clock, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, says Dr. ong
3. You are stressed to the max.
An overwhelming work schedule, looming debt, nursing care, the loss of a loved one — any number of stressful life events can trigger insomnia. That’s because chronic stress affects your fight-or-flight response, Ash Nadkarni, MD, an associate psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, tells SELF. This triggers a surge of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in your bloodstream. When your stress doesn’t let up and the “on” switch is stuck, these hormones keep coursing through your body at night to keep you awake and blocking your ability to relax and fall asleep.
4. You have a mental illness.
Insomnia is a symptom of many psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). While the relationship is complicated and more research is needed, the researchers suspect the link may be due to changes such as an increased stress response, problems with neurotransmitters or chemical messengers such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, and associated biological clock and sleep cycle problems says Dr. Nadkarni.
5. Or you have another underlying health condition.
Which brings us back to the “canary in the coal mine” comment: Insomnia can result from numerous health problems, including other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy or sleep apnea, chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis or headaches, cancer, gastrointestinal Gut disorders Conditions like heartburn or GERD, hormone fluctuations during your period or due to a thyroid condition, or even neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
6. You take medication or drugs that keep you awake.
Insomnia can also be an unwanted side effect of certain medications or medications. Stimulants, for example, cause a release of certain neurotransmitters, which in turn can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, says Dr. Nadkarni. Others cause a change or reduction in sleep quality.