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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Having issues sleeping is a sure fire way to live a less fulfilled life. Personally, I’m a believer that getting enough sleep consistently is one of the best things that you can do for your health. Feeling out of control and powerless over your ability to get a good nights rest can make you nuts.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, this article will help shed some light on the causes and provide resolutions to your sleep issues.

What Is Insomnia?

In a nutshell, insomnia is the inability to sleep. What’s so brutally torturous about insomnia is that you can be completely exhausted, yet unable to fall asleep.

Insomnia can be an acute issue (short term), meaning that it can creep into your life for a night or a few weeks.

It can also present as a chronic issue, meaning it ebbs and flows and comes and visits you every know and then, although uninvited. Chronic insomnia is diagnosed when the individual suffers at least three nights a week for three months or longer.

Symptoms of Insomnia

There are a spider web of symptoms that can root from insomnia, especially when it shows up chronically in your life. According to WebMD, general symptoms of insomnia can include:[1]

  • Sleepiness during the day
  • General tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Problems with concentration or memory

In addition to these general symptoms, insomnia can effect your relationships, career life and limit activities that give you joy, strictly because you don’t have the energy or motivation to do them.

Feeling exhausted really takes a huge toll on your mood, energy level and overall zest for life. Just like any issue, overtime a lot of other consequences can, and most likely will, result. This is so with lack of sleep.

Reasons of Insomnia

Insomnia can strike any of us at any point of our lives. A major cause of sleeplessness is stress and worry.

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I know that when I’ve had periods of time where there has been a ton on my mind, it’s resulted in sleep disturbance. I can recall nights just laying there as hours past by.

Below are more detailed reasons why insomnia would come knocking at your door:

According to WebMD, the causes of acute insomnia can include:

  • Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving)
  • Illness
  • Emotional or physical discomfort
  • Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
  • Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep
  • Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example)

According to WebMD causes of chronic insomnia include:

How to Overcome Insomnia

There are, without a doubt, many things you can attempt to do differently in order to get your sleep habits back to a healthy state. Even if you’ve struggled with sleep for years, please know that you can find relief.

Here are 10 tips on how to combat insomnia:

1. Believe That You Can Develop a Healthy Sleep Life

Believing that you can is a huge part in getting beyond any difficulty. If that’s where you need to start, it’s worth really looking at your belief system surrounding what’s possible for your sleep patterns.

Just as if you didn’t believe that you can find love, if you don’t believe that you can find a good groove with your sleep, it will be very difficult to do so.

2. Stay Away from Any Screen Time Before Bed

Everything that you come across is being ingested, including what you watch and listen too.

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Be mindful to make time to wind down before bed by disconnecting from anything that’s coming at you. This can be a violent flick or a charged up sports game.

To go further, even if you’re watching something mellow, the blue light from screens can affect circadian rhythms, which can mess up your sleep cycle.

Just as you can feel super loopy after traveling that entails changing time zones, your devices can have a similar effect.

3. Have a Consistent Bed Time

I get it, routines can take the fun away from life, although some routines can guarantee that the fun will keep going around.

Just like little kids need consistency via their routines to avoid melt downs, we, as adults, need to do consistent things for our health to stay grounded.

Having a consistent bedtime routine allows your body to have a flow, which will help it, overall, function at its best.

4. Avoid Caffeine Intake After Noon

I know that asking some of you to avoid caffeine all together is just a hard “No.” Therefore, I’ll ask you to avoid any intake of caffeine after 12pm.

Why, you ask?

This gives your body time to process the stimulant effects that caffeine has and can potentially really help your sleep cycle.

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5. Keep an Eye on Your Alcohol Intake

If you’re struggling with sleep, drinking is one habit that can truly be interfering with your sleep.

Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality. It’s deceiving because initially alcohol can make you “pass out” and fall asleep quickly, although the deepest and most restful part of sleep, (REM), rapid eye movement sleep, is compromised when we drink alcohol.

This is why, even if we do sleep sound after a couple drinks, the quality of our sleep was not a pure that it would be without alcohol processing in our bodies.

6. Move Your Body Consistently

I feel like this suggestion is always on one of my tip lists! Getting regular exercise has so many benefits including what it can do for your sleep pattern.

Utilizing up some of your daily energy by moving your body is a win/win on so many levels. It keeps you fit, it keeps you feeling emotionally better, it helps release endorphins and it can improve the quality of your sleep.

If you’re having issues sleeping; try regular exercise. It could be a game changer for you.

7. Don’t Go to Bed Full

When we go to bed full, we are already at a disadvantage because being full is uncomfortable.

Eliminating any states of discomfort is a key step to ensuring that our sleep is going to be higher quality. Be mindful of eating a big meal right before you go to sleep. Your digestive track will be happy not to have to go into busy mode when your system is trying to shut down.

8. Create a Zen Vibe in Your Bedroom

One of the key ways to create an ideal sleep environment is to bring a sense of calm and comfort to your sleep space. If you have the means, invest in nice bedding, buy an essential oil diffuser (lavender oil is great for calming), get some amethyst stones to promote calming and healing energy.

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Do your best to make sure your sleep environment is dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold. Do whatever you are called to do to make your bedroom a place of peace and rest. Need I say to avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep (or sex.)

9. Make a List

What do you mean make a list? I mean, that if you find yourself with a racing mind right before bedtime, write your thoughts down.

Take all the mental noise and write it down in a list type format to put it somewhere other than floating around in your head. This action has been so helpful for some of my clients that have struggled with sleep disturbance.

10. Find Flow through Rhythm

There have been times where I have literally self soothed my way back to sleep by finding rhythm. I’ve found rhythm with counting numbers; both backward and forward. Although, I don’t care what you count; just count.

Counting creates rhythm and it also creates a space to focus our thoughts. This is especially true for those of us who have a worried and racing mind.

The Bottom Line

As I mentioned a bit earlier, there is hope for anyone struggling with sleep disturbance. A significant first step toward addressing any issue is becoming more familiar with it.

We can combat this issue with understanding symptoms and causes. Often times, we’ve never been taught that simple, small habits that we’ve been doing can be the gateway to our disturbed sleep patterns. That one shot of expresso after dinner can be a killer for those of us struggling with sleep.

Do your pat to clear up all that you can on your end, but tidying up what’s within your control.

As always, if your symptoms continue there are specialist and other avenues to take. Talk with your medical doctor to get more details of higher levels of assistance toward your sleep.

Be well.

More Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kim Egel

Kim Egel is a licensed therapist whose private practice is centered around the concepts of the mind, body & soul connection.

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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