Have you been having trouble sleeping these days? If so, you're not alone. An estimated sixty million individuals suffer from occasional or frequent insomnia in the United States alone, according to expert sources. However, this high level of frequency doesn't make the problem insurmountable. As is the case with many troublesome disorders, paying close attention to patterns and conditions can help sufferers manage their symptoms more effectively. Many factors might be contributing to your lack of sleep, such as atmospheric changes, job-related woes, or an underlying medical issue. Here, we'll explore five of the most common insomnia triggers, along with tips on how to alleviate the problem.
Seasonal allergies, which is also known as allergic rhinitis, affect twenty to fifty percent of all Americans, according to studies. The symptoms, which can include watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion, aren't just annoying during the daytime; they have been linked to sleep disruption as well. It's estimated allergic rhinitis sufferers are twice as likely to experience insomnia as non-sufferers. Studies have shown individuals with rhinitis report more difficulty falling asleep, fewer overall hours of sleep, and increased feelings of sluggishness the following day. Additionally, there looks to be a correlation between the severity of the allergy symptoms and the degree of insomnia reported.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, keep your sleeping environment as clean as possible. Resist the urge to open the windows, and invest in an air-conditioning unit or dehumidifier instead. Wash your sheets and pillowcases regularly, and keep pets off the bed at all times. These steps will help you manage your symptoms, thereby reducing the risk of allergy-related insomnia.
As with seasonal allergy sufferers, insomnia often makes the wheezing and shortness of breath experienced by asthmatic patients worse. About one-third of individuals living with asthma report having difficulty sleeping, which in turn makes their symptoms worse, and can have a negative impact on their quality of life. Even if the symptoms themselves are not directly related to the inability to sleep, a significant percentage of asthmatics also suffer from frequent insomnia. Those who do have difficulty sleeping also report more use of asthma-related health care, such as increased inhaler use and frequent doctor visits.
Individuals who suffer from these symptoms can attempt to alleviate shortness of breath by changing their sleep position. Lying on your side rather than on your back; keeping a pillow between your knees; and keeping your head elevated and your back straight are all recommended steps.
Depression And Anxiety
There also appears to be a decent correlation between poor sleep patterns and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to studies, patients with frequent insomnia have a much higher risk of developing these often crippling mood disorders. Moreover, insomnia itself can also be a symptom of depression and anxiety, which leads to a worrisome cycle of the 'which came first?' variety.
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to deal with all of these disorders, with many of them overlapping. Massage, cranial-sacral therapy, acupuncture, and hypnosis can all help provide a stronger sense of overall well-being. Even something as simple as regular exercise three to four times a week can increase serotonin levels and promote a more restful sleep pattern. If these natural remedies aren't doing anything to improve your symptoms, seek the aid of a professional, as additional therapy and medication may be required.
There's no question feeling stressed can take its toll on sleep patterns. In addition to making falling asleep more difficult, these feelings can keep you from sleeping deeply, so you're prone to frequent waking. Worrying overtime can also lead to stressful dreams, which leave you feeling less rested than you would otherwise.
If you're feeling overly stressed, try to follow a relaxing routine before bedtime. Turn off the phone at least an hour before turning in, and keep away from the television for the same amount of time. Try writing down any of the problems or frustrations you encountered throughout the day, along with suggestions on how to avoid similar difficulties in the future. Take note of any sore or aching muscles and treat them with hot compresses or mild analgesics. You might also work stretching exercises into your evening routine for an endorphin boost before bed.
While there's undoubtedly a correlation between insomnia and sleep apnea, confusion lingers on which condition might be caused by the other. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep; apnea refers specifically to a condition that causes the patient to stop breathing multiple times during sleep, leading to abrupt waking and potentially fatal complications.
Obviously, not everyone who has difficulty sleeping will turn out to have sleep apnea, but anyone with chronic insomnia should see a physician to rule out the condition as the underlying cause of their problem. Sleep apnea can be treated by using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine if necessary. Changing sleep positions can also make a difference for some sufferers. Successful treatment will mean fewer hours of lost sleep, not to mention peace of mind.