We’ve all experienced a night where the simple task of falling asleep is seemingly impossible. For some, the cause of this insomnia is fairly obvious (for example, too much caffeine before bed). For others, figuring out why restorative sleep escapes them requires a little more digging. No matter the cause, lack of sleep can have a serious impact on health and well being. In fact, chronic insomnia has been shown to take a toll on mood, energy, and ability to function throughout the day.
Therefore, it is crucial to identify the source of your insomnia as soon as possible. By addressing the contributing internal and external factors, you’ll be better equipped to develop the appropriate plan of action to put an end to those frustrating sleepless nights.
A number of psychological issues have the ability to negatively impact sleep, bringing about both temporary and extended stretches of insomnia. Two of the most common culprits of this insomnia are stress and anxiety. You may be able to relate if you’ve ever experienced a restless night before a big presentation, or when the responsibility of caring for a sick family member fell on your shoulders. Anxiety has been linked to both onset and maintenance insomnia, the former being trouble falling asleep and the latter being the act of waking and staying awake in the middle of the night.
Additional psychological problems that can cause insomnia include depression and trauma, among others. One way you might try to pinpoint what’s causing your sleep difficulties is by keeping a sleep diary. Throughout the day, take notes on your daily responsibilities and tasks, feelings, and changes in emotion, paying particular attention to any stressful events that take place. As you look back on this record over time, you may start to see common themes contributing to your inability to achieve a restful night’s sleep.
In additional to the internal factors that cause insomnia, there also exist a variety of external contributors. Three examples of the many possible external factors are temperature, noise, and light.
- : It is generally recommended that a sleep environment be kept cool, somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If your body starts to feel too warm during the night, you may find yourself awake and struggling to fall back asleep.
Noise: Whether you live in the suburbs or the city, noise is ever present. A plane flying overhead, barking dog, and honking taxis all have the ability to keep us alert and missing out on the sleep our bodies require. One quick and easy solution is to install soundproof windows. By doing so, you’ll eliminate up to 95% of external noise, leaving your bedroom an oasis of peace and relaxation.
Light: Let’s admit it, we’re all hooked to our cellphones, laptops, tablets, etc. nowadays. When we take these devices to bed, however, they can negatively impact sleep. This is because exposure to light and darkness regulates the body’s biological clock. Too much light and the part of the brain that makes us feel sleepy is overstimulated. When it’s time for bed, power down the electronics.