What is Insomnia?

J. S. Petersen

If you've ever had a long, sleepless night, you've suffered from insomnia. A relatively common occurrence, it affects most people at some time in their life. Insomnia is simply trouble sleeping at night. Being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, or waking multiple times during the night, are symptoms of this condition.

Because coffee contains caffeine, it may cause difficulty sleeping.
Because coffee contains caffeine, it may cause difficulty sleeping.

Many different things can cause a person to suffer from insomnia. Things you eat or drink, such as caffeine or alcohol, are common causes. It isn't just stimulants or depressants that can cause difficultly sleeping, though. Eating rich or spicy food before bed is another common trigger.

A person who frequently wakes up during the night is suffering from insomnia.
A person who frequently wakes up during the night is suffering from insomnia.

Some medications can cause insomnia as well. Any type of stimulant is likely to make sleeping difficult. Somewhat surprisingly, some drugs that cause drowsiness can actually cause a person to have trouble sleeping as well. A person may feel tired, but be unable to stay asleep due to restlessness, or may just doze off for short periods of time without getting a full night's sleep.

Late night TV watching can cause insomnia.
Late night TV watching can cause insomnia.

Stress, worry, anxiety, and pain are common causes of insomnia. A person who is worried at bedtime may have trouble falling asleep. Many people know the frustration of being particularly anxious about something that will happen the next day, only to have trouble getting enough sleep to be ready for it. Children sometimes cannot sleep on Christmas Eve or before an exciting trip because they are looking forward to it so much.

Consuming energy drinks throughout the day can contribute to insomnia.
Consuming energy drinks throughout the day can contribute to insomnia.

Developing poor sleep habits is another leading cause of insomnia. Spending a lot of time in bed doing activities, reading, drawing, or even working, can make it difficult for a person to change gears when it's time to sleep. Going to sleep and waking up at different times each day can also contribute to the problem.

Stress, pain, anxiety, and drinking stimulants near bedtime add to insomnia.
Stress, pain, anxiety, and drinking stimulants near bedtime add to insomnia.

If you suffer from insomnia, there are a lot of things you can do to try and get to sleep. Practicing regular sleeping habits, such as going to bed at the same time every night and not taking naps during the day, can help. Abstaining from caffeine or alcohol before bed may also help you get a good night's sleep.

People who suffer from insomnia should avoid naps altogether.
People who suffer from insomnia should avoid naps altogether.

If you suffer from insomnia frequently, or it interferes with your life, it's best to consult with a medical professional. He or she can help you pinpoint the causes of your sleep problems and treat those, and may also be able to prescribe medications to help you fall asleep.

Alcohol is a common cause of insomnia.
Alcohol is a common cause of insomnia.
Prescription sleep aids can be a short-term treatment for insomnia.
Prescription sleep aids can be a short-term treatment for insomnia.

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Discussion Comments

motherteresa

Some yoga poses might help with insomnia, in particular, inversion poses where the blood has a chance to to get to the head.

This is not recommended though for people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, or any other medical condition where additional pressure in the brain might cause problems.

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