Although sleep scientists are still unable to give a precise answer as to how sleep works, they have learned a lot about its causes and effects. The first thing to note is that insomnia doesn’t affect all demographics equally. Amazingly, clinical studies have shown that full blown insomnia disorder increases from up to a fifth in the general adult population to up to 40% in the over-65s.
Chronic insomnia is often a reason to pay the doctor a visit, but this list hopes to avoid that, or at least give some clues as to the reasons for symptoms.
Seniors are among the most likely to struggle with insomnia, and one reason is their higher rates of medication. Common medications like blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and nasal decongestants have all been found to contribute to insomnia.
As such, it’s important to see healthcare providers who can address this. These include nurse practitioners specializing in adult-gerontology. The expertise practitioners bring to the table include advanced skills in relevant areas of health assessment and pharmacotherapeutics, so they’re often able to pinpoint chemical imbalances and help older adults achieve better sleep.
Our brains associate blue light with daytime, which our devices emit. So it’s best either to avoid screens for a while before bed, or at least use the ‘night mode’ on your devices to remove the blue spectrum light after sundown and encourage a natural rhythm. Our specially-designed glasses do the same, but more effectively, as they block almost 100% of the wavelengths where blue light is more harmful.
We all know that caffeine keeps you awake. But did you know that its half life is 3 to 5 hours, meaning that the remaining half sticks around in your body much longer? Try having your first cup later in the day and your last one earlier, so you can give your body a chance to do its thing. You can also replace coffee with tea, which has less caffeine as well as lots of useful health properties.
As if we didn’t have enough reasons to reduce stress, it also affects our sleep quality. There are different ways to reduce stress, but meditating and surrounding yourself with loved ones are pretty effective options.
The awful thing about chronic pain is that sleep is generally crucial for the body to heal itself. Pain and sleep are deeply connected, and can go hand in hand when it comes to sleep problems. Pain lessens quality of sleep, while lack of sleep can also make you more sensitive to pain. If your pain is severe enough to cause you to lose sleep, it's important to check in with a medical professional to find solutions.
Hormones that affect sleep, including melatonin, can vary between sexes and age groups. They can also be affected by the interactions of pre-existing conditions, physical activity, and foods.
At different stages of life our hormonal balance can change in dramatic or subtle ways. If lack of sleep due to hormonal imbalances persists ,your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy or similar methods.
Many neurological disorders can induce insomnia, such as the manic phases of bipolar disorder. Others are even primarily associated with sleep, such as narcolepsy. This is such a broad and complex field of medicine that it's best to get at least one diagnostic opinion before thinking about how your mental health condition will affect your sleep and subsequent treatment.
As you can see there are a range of things in modern life that can cause insomnia. If you’re not sure of the cause of your lack of sleep — or if you think there might be multiple reasons — it’s a good idea to check off the simpler ones like caffeine or blue light before consulting with professionals about more complex issues.