Insomnia: Causes And Solutions

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Are you one of those people who suffer from insomnia? The reasons for these disturbances of the natural sleep-wake rhythm can be of very different nature.

As a rule, insomnia can also be fought well – if you know what to look out for. In this article, we will explain everything about insomnia and insomnia.

The most important In brief

  • There are many different reasons why you can suffer from insomnia, but researching them is important in order to choose the right treatment
  • You do not always have to go straight to the chemical mace, there are also many home remedies that help with sleep disorders
  • Permanent sleep disorders can have extreme consequences for your health

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What is a sleep disorder?

If you roll around in bed while falling asleep, it is because you suffer from an insomnia. You can’t fall asleep, wake up all night and are completely exhausted in the next morning.

This can be temporary, i.e. only for a short period, or permanent. In the first case, the insomnia is also stressful, but you usually forget the restless night quickly. Usually at the latest when you can enjoy a restful sleep the following night.

About 18% of people in Germany suffer from sleep disorders, as far as is known.

However, if your insomnia is due to a serious disorder, then it makes sense to make you aware of the causes.

The main causes of insomnia are usually located:

  • in your individual living habits
  • excessive consumption of coffee, alcohol and cigarettes
  • on too late and too extensive meals just before sleeping
  • too much physical activity just before sleeping
  • the unfavourable sleeping environment
  • a bed configuration that is not optimally selected and does not suit your needs and sleeping habits
  • your current life situation, whereby shift work or special stress situations can often become a big problem
  • a disturbed sleep-wake rhythm, as often occurs with jet lag, for example
  • the taking of medicines or sleeping pills
  • a mental or physical illness
  • respiratory disorders such as snoring or even sleep apnoea

While most of the above causes only occur within a certain time frame, others can cause permanent sleep disturbance.

Backgrounds: What you should know about sleep disorders

You feel that you suffer from insomnia, but you are not quite sure? In the following we have compiled some causes and triggers of sleep disorders for you.

How do inner restlessness and stress affect my sleep?

In our fast-paced world, it’s not so strange that you are often exposed to a certain amount of stress. Whether you like it or not. This can happen just as often at work as at school or within the family.
This stress is not always automatically negative. But you will have experienced it yourself: When one appointment seems to chase the other, you feel especially tired in the evening and yet you find it hard to relax.
This is because your body releases a lot of hormones, such as adrenaline, in the respective stress situation. This naturally gives you an enormous energy boost.
But your blood sugar level also rises and you are generally more efficient. In this phase you feel wide awake and certainly do not think about insomnia.
But nature has provided that this powerful phase should be followed by a recovery phase. Because then your body will reduce the stress and the hormones associated with it and everything will be fine.
If this recovery phase is not possible, however, it can lead to states of exhaustion that are difficult to compensate for. Your psyche suffers as well as your immune and cardiovascular systems.
So if you have not had a sufficient recovery period after the stress at work or school, your system will overexert itself, to put it casually. The result is the inner restlessness that robs you of sleep in the end. As a rule, it is very difficult to switch off in the evening.

Stress has a negative effect on sleep quality in any case. When you fall asleep, however, the body normally slows down the circulation a little, breathing becomes quieter, the pulse slows down and blood pressure is lower. So the stress actually stops the body from sleeping. And that is bad.

The brain needs the night’s sleep to regenerate. Unlike the body’s muscles, the head does not relax completely during sleep.

The head continues to work. Everything that happened during the day, all tasks and experiences, are still present. In the short-term memory and consciousness there is a lot going on in the evening. Throughout the day, the nerve cells of the brain have been working at full speed and are swollen during their work.

It’s a perfectly normal process. However, these cells do not stick close together as is the case with other body organs. There is a lot of space between the individual cells, and this space is normally taken up by the brain fluid.

This supplies the cells with nutrients and fuel and removes the degradation products. After a long day, however, there is no longer enough room for this: the breakdown products accumulate and the nutrient supply decreases.

The concentration is gone, thinking straight ahead or even thinking logically is simply no longer possible. Whoever is asleep now will make sure that the brain can swell again. During sleep, the individual impulses and impressions of the day are sorted and either stored in the memory or eliminated.

Sleep brings forgetting, but sleep also builds memory. In addition, the brain is better supplied with nutrients again due to the decongestants, and the decomposition products can be washed away. In the case of a sleep disorder, all this no longer works. The short phases of deep sleep are not enough to allow the brain to regenerate completely.

What is stress and how does it actually arise?

Stress seems to be something like a widespread disease. It is a typical symptom of a performance-oriented society. And it affects the quality of sleep: anyone who is under pressure at work or at home develops a sleep disorder.
It usually starts when you go to bed: the daily routine goes through your mind again, all the mistakes and wrongly estimated times, the amount of work for the next few days and the unfinished things make for a cheerful get-together.
Under these conditions or thoughts nobody can sleep well. The worries go roundabout in the head, a sleepless night threatens. If you work late into the night to reduce the pile of unfinished tasks for the next day, that is a problem.
What is generally referred to as stress is an expression for strain and tension. Stress hormones such as adrenaline are produced more often in risky situations or under pressure.
This causes blood pressure to rise. Adrenaline permanently causes headaches, heart problems, stomach pain, diarrhoea and allergies. And stress often enough triggers sleep disturbances. For men, it is rather occupational stress situations that lead to a sleep disorder, while for women it is rather family problems.

What do depressions have to do with sleep disorders?

As you probably know, prolonged lack of sleep can quickly lead to depression. However, depression as a mental illness can just as well cause sleep disorders.
So it is a real vicious circle. Because depression causes a constant up and down in your brain. Some people also call it “the thoughts constantly circle back and forth”.
So if you suffer from depression, you have the problem of not being able to switch off. This results in sleep problems, which in turn leads to you not sleeping enough. This lack of sleep, however, further increases your depressive phases.
Studies in the sleep laboratory have shown that the brain is particularly tense and is in a monitored state when depression is the cause of massive sleep disorders.

When is chronic insomnia present?

Doctors also call the sleep disorder insomnia. The causes can be many and varied. External factors such as noise and light or inadequate sleep hygiene and sleeping environment can be just as responsible for this as organic factors.
A chronic insomnia is when you do not get enough sleep for more than three months, at least three nights a week. So during this time you suffer from sleep disorders. You will also notice this quickly in your everyday life, for example.
Because the resulting lack of sleep will cost you a lot of concentration and performance. It will also make you feel tired and exhausted very often during the day.

If a sleep disorder is classified as chronic, you will quickly notice that other diseases can be the result.

This means that you will mainly be dealing with mental illness, such as depression. Because a permanent lack of sleep has a very lasting and negative effect on your psyche.

Why do pregnant women suffer from insomnia?

During pregnancy, sleepless nights are more frequent. Mainly in the last weeks, i.e. shortly before delivery, this affects many expectant mothers. Here too, the causes can be quite different.
For example, the following reasons can be decisive in determining whether a pregnant woman suffers from sleep disorders:

increased heartburn…
inner anxiety
Children’s Movements
frequent urination
a heavy stomach in many a sleeping position
Restless Legs Syndrome

Very often, tried and tested household remedies in particular can help to combat insomnia during pregnancy.

Warm milk with honey or a warm lavender bath can contribute to relaxation as well as meditative breathing exercises.

What does a full moon have to do with insomnia?

You have probably heard that many people sleep worse when the full moon lights up the night sky.
Perhaps you yourself suffer from not being able to sleep as well as usual on these nights. Even though sleep research is still in its infancy in this respect, there are already some initial findings.
For example, Professor Ingo Fietze, head of the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center at the Berlin Charité, puts forward the theory that it may be due in particular to altered melatonin production.
This means that the bright light of the full moon inhibits the melatonin production in your body. As you surely know, you need this melatonin, the sleep hormone, to sleep well. If your body does not provide enough of it, it will usually be a rather restless night.
This theory is also supported by the study of the Swiss chronobiologist Christoph Cajochen. He found that a person’s melatonin level is lower on a full moon night and this could result in a shorter sleep time of about 20 minutes.
However, the scientists have not yet been able to conclusively clarify why many people sleep so restlessly and badly during a full moon.

If you also suffer from not being able to sleep really well and sufficiently during a full moon, you should try to make sure that you get more darkness. So draw the curtains and practice relaxing breathing exercises or autogenic training before falling asleep.

Why do women suffer from sleep disorders during menopause?

During the menopause a lot changes in and around the human body. Especially women seem to be affected by this very often. They then suffer more from it:

Hot flashes
Weld outbreaks
Mood swings
Insomnia

In addition to possible hyperthyroidism or depressive illnesses, these characteristics of the climacteric are attributed to falling oestrogen levels.

What are the consequences of insomnia?

Insomnia only becomes dangerous for the human organism when it has developed into a real sleep disorder. So if you spend a restless night, you don’t have to worry about it.
However, if you suffer from insomnia at least three times a week for a long period of time, you should be aware of the consequences.
If you have a full-blown insomnia, you may suffer from it afterwards:

Daytime Fatigue
Tension
Concentration problems
reduced performance
High blood pressure
upset stomach
Cardiovascular diseases
Weight problems

However, a certain amount of irritability, a weakened immune system or an increasing risk of suffering a work or car accident can also be the result.

In addition, sleep disorders can also lead to you generally aging faster or your life expectancy is no longer so high. Even your memory performance can be massively impaired by a persistent sleep disorder.

Your body needs a healthy and sufficient sleep to get all regeneration processes going overnight.

So it can never be wrong if you optimize your sleeping habits as well as your sleeping environment and bedding.

What to do for insomnia: Tips and tricks to help you

You found that you suffer from insomnia? Then we have put together some important information and tricks to help you fight sleep disorders.

What first steps can I take to do something about my sleep disorder?

You should first check what it is that prevents you from falling asleep and sleeping through the night.

Because especially in the psychological area it very often comes to overload, which culminates in insomnia and in the end can lead to a real sleep disorder.

Other possible causes for your sleep disorder could be anxiety, pregnancy or the menopause.

But especially blue light, as it is emitted by a running television, can massively interfere with your ability to fall asleep and sleep through the night. But digital displays on watches or other electronic devices also produce this blue light.

The blue light components of technical devices such as TV or digital alarm clocks inhibit the production of melatonin. Night lights, on the other hand, have an increased red light component and therefore do not cause sleep problems.

A regulated sleep rhythm is also very important. Make sure that you find out for yourself how much you need to sleep and when is the best time for you to go to bed. Of course this is influenced by the course of your everyday life, but you should still make sure that you get a routine.

How can I optimally design my sleeping environment?

Your sleeping environment in particular can improve your sleep. Therefore pay attention to the following things if possible.

  • Relaxation room: You should design your bedroom so that it is really only suitable for sleeping and relaxing. No TV, no ironing board and no desk. Just your bed. This way your brain automatically associates relaxation and sleep with the room and can switch off more easily. This is not possible in many rooms due to lack of space, so in these cases you should create storage space with curtains or the like.
  • Order: Your bedroom should not be cluttered and untidy. Because that way your brain can’t relax either. No piles of clothes or papers. It also helps to always make the bed.
  • Blue light: We have already explained this to you above. Blue light, i.e. TVs, mobile phones and co. should not be used in the bedroom.
  • Light: Pay attention to the right lighting conditions. In the dark, your brain knows it’s time to sleep.
  • Rest: In order for you to be able to relax and really switch off, you should ensure a quiet sleeping environment.
  • Temperature: Of course, the following always applies to the temperature: choose it the way you like it best. However, a cooler temperature in the bedroom generally helps you fall asleep.
  • Equipment: bed, slatted frame, mattress, blanket, pillow, bed linen – everything should be arranged according to your needs. So that you can look forward to your bed and really relax when you lie in it.

What medical treatment options are available?

A visit to the doctor is recommended if you are suffering greatly from your insomnia. Even if your insomnia has been going on for some time, it is still advisable to consult your doctor.

Make sure beforehand that it is not due to a worn out mattress or the like, which makes it difficult for you to sleep through the night.

A doctor will first ask you questions concerning your life situation, your sleeping behaviour and also your sleeping hygiene. He will then work with you to find the cause of your insomnia. Only then will he determine a suitable treatment method.

Possible treatment approaches for a sleep disorder may be

  • Acupuncture
  • Light therapy
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Learning relaxation techniques
  • Drugs for neurological causes of sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome
  • Medication or adjustment of a snoring splint for sleep apnea

However, if your insomnia is due to another disease, the doctor will initially focus on this disease.

This means that first of all this disease, which is recognized as the cause, must be treated before a therapy for your sleep disorders can be started. Often, problems with falling asleep and staying asleep disappear into thin air anyway.

How can I reduce stress so that I can sleep better?

The head needs time to switch off. It needs to calm down and process the experiences of the day. But it can’t do that if you fall straight from your desk into bed.

Compensatory sports to exhaust yourself, talking about your thoughts or artistic-creative hobbies can be an important outlet. A short meditation also helps many. There are now many apps and audio books that can provide you with a good guide.

What can help against sleep disorders during the menopause?

As a rule, proven household remedies or even herbal active ingredients can be very helpful. In this case, herbal oestrogens, such as those found in hops, soya or red clover, are good and healthy alternatives to sleeping pills

If you think your insomnia is caused by your menopause, it is highly recommended that you check your sleeping environment and bedding. Not only should your high-quality mattress be adapted to the changed needs, but also the bedding.

Especially with increased sweating and hot flushes during the night, it can be an effective benefit for you if you use a blanket and pillow with a suitable filling.

What do I have to consider when taking medication for sleep disorders?

You should generally only consider taking medication for sleep disorders in consultation with your doctor. Because the sleeping pills must be individually adapted to you and your complaints.

In addition, these drugs may only be taken for a short time, as there is an acute risk of becoming dependent.

What home remedies are there that help against insomnia?

Of course, it is always healthier to use homeopathic remedies or well-tried home remedies if you suffer from sleep disorders. Warm milk with honey or herbal teas are ideal household remedies to help you fall asleep faster and better.

Homeopathic remedies include globules, melatonin or cannabidiol, CBD for short.

These active ingredients can help you to relax and find peace in the evening. There is no danger that you can become dependent on these substances. However, to be on the safe side, you should consult a doctor before taking these substances.

Conclusion

It should be noted that sleep disorders can have many causes. However, it is important to find out these causes in order to choose the right treatment. That is why you should spend a lot of time on this. Start to optimize your sleeping environment, get a good sleep rhythm and reduce sports, eating a lot and stress before falling asleep.

If these things don’t help, you should dig deeper. Is something bothering you? Do you suffer from depression? Sometimes it is not direct causes that lead to insomnia but rather things that always bother you. Talk to a doctor, he can also help you very well.

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