What causes insomnia? That's a good question and the key to properly treating insomnia is figuring out what the underlying cause may be. Unfortunately, that's not always so simple to do, as there are many possible factors, from underlying medical conditions to psychological problems to poor lifestyle choices, which can lead to or worsen the condition.
The first step in treating insomnia is figuring out the cause. In some cases, difficulty sleeping can result from certain physical conditions including sinus infection, acid reflux, hyperthyroidism, asthma, arthritis, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson's. Often the uncomfortable symptoms of these and other conditions can make sleeping difficult. At the same time, medications taken to treat these conditions can cause insomnia.
There are also other sleep disorders, including restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea that can lead to insomnia by disrupting regular sleep cycles. Individuals with restless legs syndrome may be wakened from sleep by an intense need to move their legs, while those with sleep apnea can be awakened when their airway becomes temporarily obstructed. In either case, this disruption may be what causes insomnia as they make it difficult to stay asleep.
Even more troubling are psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, which can either cause insomnia or be a rebound effect of insomnia itself. Either way, this sets up a vicious cycle with one condition building on the other and preventing you from getting restful sleep. In these cases it may be necessary to treat the depression or anxiety with prescription medications in order to resolve the related sleep issues.
It can be terribly troubling to get in bed at night and find your mind plagued by thoughts or feelings of hopelessness or irrational worry. It may make it difficult or even impossible to relax and fall asleep as you fight to get your brain to shut off. This inability to shut down can be what causes insomnia as it becomes a source of concern and the entire thing just builds on itself until you are completely unable to sleep properly.
Of course it is entirely possible for a person to experience insomnia without any underlying medical condition being present. Certain lifestyle choices can have a direct effect on the sleep cycle and cause unhealthy patterns. Excess caffeine may make it difficult for you to relax and fall asleep while substances like alcohol can act like sedatives but then disrupt your sleep pattern when they wear off, and you wake up in the middle of the night. It's important to maintain good sleep hygiene.
The answer to what causes insomnia may also be as simple as working a night shift, bringing your work home with you or even taking a nap during the day. Any of these factors can disrupt the natural sleep pattern of your body and make it difficult to sleep properly at night. An excess amount of stress may make it difficult to fall asleep as your mind continues to focus on what needs to be done rather than shutting down and allowing you to recharge.
Whatever the underlying cause, insomnia can have a damaging effect on your overall health. Getting the proper amount of sleep is just as important to your health as eating right or ensuring you are properly hydrated. You should never take sleep for granted, so if you're having problems falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor and together hopefully you can figure out what is causing the problem and get back to sleeping well.