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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

Causes of Insomnia and How to Overcome It (The Complete Guide)

Causes of Insomnia and How to Overcome 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.

Causes 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.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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