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  • What Causes Insomnia? 15 Key Culprits

    If you’re someone who spends most of the night tossing and turning and checking the time on the clock, you’re definitely not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, close to 20% of Americans suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. That’s a lot of people walking around cranky and groggy!

    Symptoms of Insomnia

    People troubled by insomnia experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting back to sleep when they wake up at a very early hour. These sleep disturbances cause stress and anxiety, and make every day activities like working, remembering, and thinking clearly very challenging. Insomnia also typically causes irritability and fatigue. Persistent insomnia may also be a contributing factor of depression.

    Causes of Insomnia

    Insomnia is a complex condition that is still being studied. So far we do know that there are certain conditions that make people more prone to insomnia:

    – Age – people over 60 are more susceptible

    – Gender – females, on average, are more susceptible

    – A history of depression can make you more susceptible 

    The main culprits of insomnia are:

    – Jet lag

    – Shift work

    – Anxiety

    – Grief

    – Depression

    – Stress

    – Stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol taken too soon before bed

    – An overactive thyroid

    – Steroid use

    – Certain prescription medications (if you’re currently taking any, speak with your doctor about insomnia side effects)

    – Restless leg syndrome

    – Menopause and hot flashes

    – Gastrointestinal conditions such as heartburn

    – Conditions that make it hard to breathe like asthma and sleep apnea

    – Chronic pain

    As mentioned above, depression is one of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. In these cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. CBT targets the thoughts and actions that are disrupting your sleep night after night. This therapeutic strategy encourages good sleep habits by helping you to gain greater awareness of the relationship between your thoughts, emotions and behavior to better manage depression and anxiety.

    Other therapeutic approaches to treating insomnia may include mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or meditation. A therapist can also help you to explore lifestyle factors such as caffeine and alcohol intake, exercise, stress, and sleep habits to identify and address anything that may be interfering with you getting the sleep you need.

    Therapists recognize that each client is an individual with individual needs. One-on-one talk therapy will help a therapist determine the specific causes – in some cases there may be multiple culprits – and put together a comprehensive strategy for relief.

    If you’re experiencing insomnia, reaching out to your doctor or a therapist can help. You don’t have to address this all on your own. If you’d like to schedule a free phone consultation to see if therapy might be the right next step for you, please feel free to reach out to us!