Causes of insomnia
Pinpointing what’s causing your sleepless nights can be the key to improving your quality of sleep. Read through these common causes to see if any alarm bells ring:
Insomnia can be both a symptom of mental health issues and a cause. This is backed up by research into people with anxiety or depression which revealed that most only sleep for less than six hours a night.
A sudden, stressful event, such as losing your job or the death of a loved one, can often be to blame for short-term insomnia.
Everyday stresses could also be a factor. If you have problems switching off from your worries and you lie awake mulling things over, try talking to a friend or seeking professional advice.
Are you fit and getting enough exercise? If not, it could be affecting your ability to sleep well. Regular exercise helps to make you feel more tired and ready to rest and it can improve the time spent in deep sleep. Not only that, it helps to reduce stress levels, another common cause of insomnia.
Improving your general health with a positive approach to diet and exercise will contribute to boosting your immune system. However, be aware that certain health conditions can make it hard to sleep, these include an overactive thyroid, acid reflux, eczema, heart disease and asthma.
Changes to sleeping patterns are a normal part of getting older. If your overall quality of sleep is declining as you age, it could be because older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep.
The menopause can also come with a set of sleep problems – increased anxiety keeping you awake and being woken with night sweats are both common complaints.
Sleep experts agree that one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of sleep is to stick to a regular routine, going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day. This helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm – the internal system that controls alertness and tiredness.
Winding down before bed is also important. That means no screens for at least an hour before bed and avoiding coffee, nicotine and eating during that time. Research shows that it might also be wise to steer clear of sleep trackers as they can lead to unhealthy sleep behaviours in some cases.
Banish all technology from the bedroom and create a calm, quiet and dark environment to help signal to your body that it’s time for bed.