Advertising
Advertising

Published on August 3, 2018

5 Insomnia Causes and How to Combat Them to Crush Sleeplessness

5 Insomnia Causes and How to Combat Them to Crush Sleeplessness

The alarm clock numbers change again.

12:06 AM.

“Well”, you think to yourself, “not the worst.” But here’s the problem — you went to bed over two hours ago.

There aren’t many feelings worse than watching your alarm clock work flawlessly with no emotion, showing you little mercy in counting time upwards.

Insomnia isn’t anything to take lightly, and no matter how good your sleep schedule is, we’ve all been struck by its merciless rage. Unfortunately for some, they suffer from it consistently.

The bad news? You may not realize it, but you’re feeding the insomnia directly by some of your habits.

The good news? You can change these habits and enjoy better, more fulfilling sleep on a regular basis.

The following is a list of the most common causes of insomnia, and what you can do to flip the script and lessen the bags showing themselves front and center under your eyes:

Cause 1: Technology

Do I even need to go here?

How many times have you been told to stay away from anything with a screen at night? It almost feels like it’s one step away from a parent scolding their stepchild.

Yet, just like the stepchild, you push the envelope and do it anyway. Why not, right? It’s not physically hurting you or causing any damage, so off you go.

But it is hurting — and it’s hurting big time. Whether you like it or not, we have certain biological tendencies that have been adapted through thousands of years of human existence.

Technology and blue light screens have only been around for 40 (or even less) of those years, and smartphones have cut that number to maybe ten. So now, as you browse Instagram and Facebook in bed, you’re effectively resisting thousands of years of biology by pitting ten years of technology against it.

Advertising

Who do you think is going to win this one? Here’s a hint — it’s not you.

While you joyfully laugh at the latest viral Facebook video, your brain’s ability to secrete melatonin is suppressed as a result of the blue light from the screen.[1] Melatonin, it turns out, is the sleep regulating hormone.

So put the tech away. You’ve had all day to stare at it, and you can definitely handle the one hour before bed without it.

Having trouble simply putting it away? Try any of the following:

  1. If you normally plug your phone in on your nightstand, move it away to your desk. If even having it on your desk is too tempting, put it in another room for the night.
  2. Replace the habit of browsing social media or checking email on your phone late at night (because let’s be honest, that’s generally what you do) with another activity, such as reading. Give the eyes the break they deserve.
  3. Put your phone on airplane mode for the night so no one can distract you.

Cause 2: Stress

Work. Family. Relationships. Life.

Rinse and repeat.

Any combination of those, or even all of them, can cause undue stress in your life. We all know stress is bad. Yeah, yeah… yeah. We’ve heard it ten thousand times in ten thousand different ways. But what are we doing about it?

Unfortunately, not much. Out of any of those categories, work is one of the biggest sources of stress. It boils down to three reasons:

  • There’s pressure on you to perform well on a regular basis.
  • Your coworkers are hard to work with or even get along with.
  • You probably don’t even like your job that much.

Mix those together and you’ll get a pretty potent shot of cortisol, courtesy of your own body. What is cortisol exactly? It’s the hormone that’s released during stress.

If you’re feeling the full force of it, spend a little time doing any of the following:

  1. Meditate. The science behind it is proven, and I know you’ve heard it’s beneficial. Give it a shot. Start with sitting still in the mornings for a few minutes. Expand from there. There are a ton of useful guides online, here’s one: The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime
  2. Unplug for a bit. Similar to meditation but without actually meditating. Put your phone away, don’t talk to anyone, and just unwind for a few minutes. Let your thoughts go wild if you need to. Take a few deep breaths. It’s ok to spend a little time alone. Don’t feel like going out Friday night? Then don’t.
  3. Enjoy a little downtime without the guilt. Downtime is in fact very important to your overall performance. We’re so “go go go” in our mentality these days, we almost feel guilty when we take a minute to slow down. Well, I’m here to tell you — slow down more and don’t feel guilty about it. Watch a TV show or a movie. Read a freakin’ book. Veg out on the couch.

Cause 3: Unregulated sleeping hours/pattern

One of the worst things you can do is keep odd hours with your sleep schedule. Your body is a fine-tuned piece of equipment and thus needs to be treated like one. But like all things, it isn’t foolproof.

At the end of the day, we aren’t robots; we don’t have a switch that we can turn on and off. Do you consider that a pro or a con? I happen to think it’s a pro, but that’s just me.

Your body becomes a well-oiled machine when you give it routine and habits. Ultimately, it’s up to you if those habits are good or bad.

Advertising

If you’re looking to get ahead in life, you might want to make them good:

I’ll even give you one good habit to get you started: Keep your bedtime to a pretty consistent time frame.

The idea is simple:

Aim for a certain time and then keep the bedtime to within 30 minutes, even on the weekends.

Trust me, going to bed one night at 11 PM, the next night at 9:30 PM, and then 1 AM on Saturday night won’t do you much good.

Your brain picks up on these habits, and when you get into a routine of going to bed at the same time, you’d be surprised at how much more quickly you’re capable of falling asleep.

Cause 4: Bad diet and caffeine

We love dessert. We love greasy, cheesy, carb-loaded meals. We could literally eat this every day and not blink an eye. If only it was healthy for you.

What is it about the salt and the sweet that has us craving absolute crap a lot?

I won’t get into the science of why we love to eat everything that’s bad for us, but I will get into the science of why eating unhealthy on a regular basis will absolutely affect your sleep.

Let’s start with the physical discomfort you’ll probably get when you eat a heavy meal close to bedtime. That bloated, gassy, full feeling is never appetizing, let alone when it hits you as you lay in bed.

There’s also the aforementioned weight gain that comes with eating trashy foods all the time. And in turn, your chances of developing sleep apnea increase.

For those unaware, sleep apnea is where you stop breathing for short amounts of time overnight, causing your body to lose out on precious REM sleep. Many times, even after a full night’s sleep, you wake up feeling tired.[2]

Those who suffer from acid reflux due to bad diets can also suffer from nighttime heartburn as well, making it hard to fall asleep.[3]

Advertising

So, still want to eat a bunch of junk food? I hope not, but either way I’ll add another complex layer: caffeine, and your penchant to ingest a lot of it.

Here’s what I mean:

You’re tired on a regular basis, so you decide that caffeine was your drug of choice to combat the constant sleepiness. That’s cool. It works for a bit.

But as you begin to ingest more caffeine, you have a harder time falling asleep at night because you’re still wired. In turn, you wake up even more tired, and so you decide that more caffeine is the answer.

Get where this is going?

Try the following tips to start a healthy diet:

To start, try ingesting less caffeine. If you drink three or more cups a day, try replacing one of them with green tea, or cut that last cup out completely. Slowly backtrack down to one or two cups a day if you can, and don’t drink any caffeine past lunch time.

If your diet needs some improvement, try to start small again. If you happen to love sugar and find yourself eating or drinking the deliciously sweet stuff on the daily, try to cut out one source of it for the day. In other words, if you drink two sodas a day, try to cut one out and replace with sparkling water or some other non-sugary beverage.

This isn’t rocket science and is more than likely advice you’ve heard before.

If you eat dessert after every lunch and every dinner, try to skip one of them. Then, like with the caffeine, backtrack until you either completely eliminate it or have just a tiny amount.

I’m a firm believer in moderation — nothing wrong with enjoying a little coffee shop rendezvous with caffeine or a midnight meeting with chocolate…but when given an inch, we take a mile. Regulate your intake.

Cause 5: No exercise

Exercise has been proven as one of the most beneficial sources of stress relief, but more importantly, as a way to regulate your sleep.[4]

Just think about it — exercise means you expend a ton of energy in a short amount of time. Naturally, you get tired from this expense of energy and it follows you throughout the day even if you don’t actively feel “tired”.

Advertising

When you don’t exercise, you’re robbing your system of a chance to release this energy. With nowhere to go, it stays bottled up, and you guessed it — your sleep cycle takes the hit.

Try the following ways to get out there and get moving, people:

The source really doesn’t matter, but here’s what does:

Finding some physical activity that you enjoy. The fastest way to fall off the wagon is to do something you don’t enjoy and get bored (here’s to looking at you, career sufferers).

If you enjoy playing a sport, get more involved. If you enjoy the feeling of lifting some iron, get a membership to a gym. If you enjoy both, then guess what…do both.

If you prefer working out in groups, join any number of gyms that offer group classes. Your choices are pretty much unlimited. Go move.

You can flip the script

There are a number of factors that can trigger insomnia but lucky for you, most of them have solutions and ways you can tackle them to lessen their impact. A lot of them require discipline and effort, though.

Are your waking hours spent in a daze, full of brain fog? Are you getting mad that you can predict the mid-afternoon slump that accompanies you on a daily basis?

These five ways are some of the most time-tested, easiest solutions to implement.

Give it a go, because I can guarantee you one thing if you don’t: nothing will change.

Want to know more about hacking your sleep cycle, check this out:

Your Sleep Cycle And How To Hack It For Better Sleep

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Bergen

Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

10 Best Task List Apps Out There for Getting Stuff Done 5 Insomnia Causes and How to Combat Them to Crush Sleeplessness Have Trouble Sleeping? 7 Proven Ways to Get More Rest 5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed to the Max Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Slowly Killing You (And How to Turn Around)

Trending in Restore Energy

1 Why Am I Exhausted? The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever 2 How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success) 3 How Not to Let Work Take Priority over Spending Time With Family 4 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 5 Stock up on These 9 Healthy Snack Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

“Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. When tiredness is persistent, however — when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get— it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here’re some of the most common causes of fatigue:

1. Dehydration

If you want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions.

If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energising oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

You cannot cure this crash with caffeine – the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

2. Lack Of Exercise

A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

Advertising

Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of our everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

3. A Poor Diet

The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by pizza or cheese.

Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

4. Skipping Breakfast

Physician Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

Ingesting food signals to your brain that there is enough food available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

Advertising

Some great ideas for a healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

Or if meal-prepping isn’t your think, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

5. Poor Quality Of Sleep

We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed. But did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is.

TO feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time. And before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to prepare for a restful night.

Read more about how to develop a routine that will get you better sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

Advertising

6. Sleep Apnea (A Person’s Airways Get Blocked off While They Are Asleep)

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while they are asleep. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing as well as the use of a special breathing machine to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

7. Depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling and lifestyle changes like stress management to help manage this condition. You can take a look at these 15 Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness.

Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

Advertising

8. Hypothyroidism

If a person has hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of these important hormones— and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain and feeling cold all the time.

Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills like Synthroid. Check here for signs of having a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

9. Anemia

People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements or B-12 shots.

While here are some drinks you can try to relieve symptoms of Anemia, it’s best to do a blood test and consult your doctor in case of any hidden medical conditions.

10. Cancer

While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surround tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

Diagnosis is usually by biopsy and treatment often focusses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery— and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

Read Next