6 Sneaky Causes of Insomnia

Do you go under the second your head hits the pillow, or do you toss and turn half the night? If you’re like one in four Americans, you developed insomnia at some point in the past year. Sometimes, pinpointing the reason for your lack of sleep is a snap. For example, it’s natural to feel restless the night before a big job presentation or interview. Other times, the following six sneaky and unexpected reasons for insomnia might play a role.

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1. Withdrawal
Do you routinely turn to the trusty nightcap to help you get your Zzz’s? While alcohol might seemingly put you under, it can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to a battle with insomnia. Drinking temporarily calms certain excitatory neurotransmitters like GABA. When your brain attempts to return to equilibrium, the surge in these substances wakes you up halfway through the night. You might also struggle if you recently had surgery or a prolonged illness where you took opioid medications as part of your pain management protocol. Although these drugs have a sedative effect that helps you doze off, it disrupts your normal REM sleep. Such prescriptions can also fuel sleep-disordered breathing similar to apnea, waking you up several times through the night, even if you don’t remember it. 

2. A Chaotic Sleep Schedule 
Sleep hygiene experts recommend going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day — even on weekends. Why? Doing so trains your body’s circadian rhythms, telling you when it’s time to rest. However, some people struggle to stay on a consistent schedule due to work obligations. Roughly 22 million Americans work evening, rotating, or on-call shifts. If this scenario applies to you, request a schedule that rotates clockwise and consider tools like melatonin and light therapy to help you fall under and wake up when it’s time. If possible, try to keep your shifts consistent — your employer should take it easy on the “clopens” whenever feasible. 

3. Physical Illness and Pain
People with chronic pain or illness can find sleep elusive because they can’t get comfortable. Trying a few pillow tricks might make it possible for you to get your Zzz’s. For example, a pillow between your knees can help side sleepers keep their spines in alignment, easing low back pain that can wake you during the night. Those who sleep on their stomachs can select flatter pillows for their heads that don’t interfere with breathing. However, they might try tucking a fluffier pillow under their feet if they struggle with poor circulation. 

4. Medications
Some medications can keep you tossing and turning. If you recently switched to a new prescription, pay attention if insomnia symptoms develop. For example, alpha and beta blockers prescribed for heart conditions can interrupt REM sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted upon waking. Another tip is to avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. If you absolutely must have a post-dinner cuppa, switch to decaf, or better yet, an herbal tea like chamomile. 

5. Neurological Problems 
Did you recently sustain a head injury? It might be a sneaky, unexpected cause of your insomnia. According to the National Institutes for Health, anywhere from 30% to 70% of patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) experience sleeplessness. Symptom severity partially depends on how the injury occurred — those with PTSD run the highest risk of sleep disturbances. 

6. Anxiety and Depression
If you ever tossed and turned the night before a big exam, you know how anxiety can affect your sleep. Experiencing restlessness night after night over ongoing problems like insurmountable bills can snowball into a sleep disorder. Lack of sufficient shuteye clouds your judgment, making it more challenging to find a way out of your problems. Depression, likewise, can cause trouble sleeping. Some people find they spend too much time in bed, but the rest they have is intermittent. Certain antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can increase sleeplessness in some. Talk to your doctor if you experience this side effect. 

Unexpected Reasons for Insomnia
Getting sufficient shuteye is vital to your overall health. Watch out for these six sneaky and unexpected reasons for insomnia.

*Collaborative Post