Do you struggle to fall asleep at night?
If so, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, a survey by Consumer Reports found that 27 percent of American adults have trouble falling asleep most nights, and 68 percent of American adults have trouble falling asleep at least one night per week typically caused by sleeping disorders.
While everyone struggles with their sleep from time to time, there’s a chance that your sleep issues may be indicative of a larger problem, such as insomnia.
How can you tell if you have insomnia?
Check out this guide to learn about the top warning signs of insomnia.
What is Insomnia?
Before we dive into the warning signs of insomnia, let’s first talk about what it is.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which someone has trouble staying or falling asleep. The condition can be both short-term and long-term. It can also come and go.
Short-term (also known as acute) insomnia typically lasts from one night to a few weeks. Long-term (also known as chronic) insomnia lasts at least three nights and can last as long as several months or more.
Types of Insomnia
There are two main types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
If you suffer from primary insomnia, this means that your sleep issues aren’t linked to any other health problem. Oftentimes, this type of insomnia is caused by a stressful life event, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, or changes in your sleep schedule due to jet lag or a new work schedule.
If you suffer from secondary insomnia, this means that your issues with sleeping stem from another health condition. Health conditions that can lead to secondary insomnia include:
- Substance abuse
This type of insomnia can also be a result of hyperthyroidism or other endocrine problems.
What are the Signs of Insomnia?
So, how can you tell if you’re suffering from insomnia or just a poor night of sleep? Here are the top signs to watch out for:
One of the top signs that you’re suffering from insomnia. The average adult needs around 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting less than that, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to wake up feeling fatigued.
Many people find that their fatigue stays with them throughout the day and that they lack the motivation to participate in daily activities.
2. Trouble Falling Asleep
Those who suffer from insomnia also tend to have trouble falling asleep. Some insomnia sufferers find that they have trouble falling asleep at a certain time, even if their body is tired.
Thinking about things that make you overwhelmed or anxious before going to bed can contribute to this symptom.
For some people, all it takes is a solid bedtime routine to fix this issue. This may include:
- Taking a warm shower
- Putting your phone and other devices down an hour before bedtime
- Meditating or stretching
- Reading or journaling
If you’ve tried all of these tactics and you’re still having trouble falling asleep, then there’s a good chance that insomnia is to blame.
3. Trouble Staying Asleep
For some people with insomnia, falling asleep is not the problem. Instead, staying asleep is the problem.
Those who suffer from insomnia often wake up during the middle of the night. And, they have trouble falling back asleep within 30 minutes.
4. Waking Up Too Early
We often think that waking up super early is a sign of motivation and good health. But, this isn’t always the case. If you go to sleep at 11 pm, then ideally, you should be waking up somewhere between 6 am and 8 am.
If you find that you’re waking up a couple of hours or more before your alarm, then there’s a good chance that insomnia is to blame.
5. Trouble Concentrating
Difficulty concentrating is one of the most common side effects of sleep deprivation. This can impair your judgment and make it difficult for you to make decisions.
If you find that you’re frequently struggling to concentrate throughout the day, insomnia may be the issue.
6. Mood Swings and Behavioral Issues
It’s no secret that not getting enough sleep can make us feel grumpier.
However, if you’re suffering from insomnia, it could lead to serious mood swings. These mood swings may even be a sign that you’re suffering from anxiety or depression.
These mood swings may cause you to act in a way that you normally wouldn’t. For example, you may act aggressively or impulsively toward irritating situations that you’d normally be able to handle with ease.
7. Relationship Stress
There are a lot of things that can contribute to stress in a relationship, including insomnia.
A lot of times, those who suffer from insomnia find that it’s hard to be around others. You may find yourself lashing out or losing patience in situations that normally wouldn’t upset you.
8. Lack of Coordination
There are also physical signs of insomnia that you should be aware of. One of the most common physical signs is a lack of coordination.
Those who suffer from insomnia often find that their movements are more sluggish and that they have trouble focusing their eyes on one spot. In fact, one study found that driving for over three hours at night without a break is the same as being drunk behind the wheel.
9. Memory Issues
If you’re having trouble remembering things, that’s another sign that you may be suffering from insomnia.
When your body is asleep, your brain processes the events of the day and turns them into memories. If you’re short on sleep, it can make it more difficult to remember certain things.
What Causes Insomnia?
As we mentioned earlier, stress and lifestyle changes can often lead to primary insomnia, while underlying health conditions often lead to secondary insomnia.
It’s important to understand that some people are at a higher risk of developing insomnia than others. Women are at more risk than men, and older people are at more risk than younger people.
Additionally, young and middle-aged Black Americans also have a higher risk of developing insomnia. You’re also at a higher risk if you suffer from a long-term illness or mental illness.
Certain medications can also put you at risk for developing insomnia. These include:
- Alpha and beta blockers
- Antidepressants and SSRIs
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor-blockers
- Angiotensin converting enzyme
- Nonsedating H1 agonists
If you’re taking any of these medications, you can talk to your doctor about switching.
If you’re suffering from short-term insomnia, you may not need any treatment. Oftentimes, this type of insomnia resolves on its own.
While it may be tempting to treat your insomnia with over the counter medications, you should avoid doing so, as these can come with negative side effects and tend to lose their effect over time.
In some cases, doctors will prescribe sleeping pills for a short period of time for those suffering from acute insomnia. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, you’ll need to treat the underlying health condition that is keeping you awake at night.
For example, if you’re suffering from depression, your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you to a therapist.
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent insomnia from happening in the first place. This includes:
- Going to sleep at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning
- Avoiding taking naps during the day
- Avoiding nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol late in the day (Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can keep you up, while alcohol is a depressant that can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and harm your sleep quality)
- Avoiding eating big meals late in the day
- Making your bedroom a comfortable sleeping environment (ie, making sure its dark, cool, and quiet and that you’re sleeping on a comfortable mattress)
- Following a relaxing bedtime routine
- Doing something calming if you can’t fall asleep
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding exercising too close to your bedtime
As we mentioned earlier, you should also stop using technological devices for about an hour before bedtime.
Time to Cure Your Insomnia
Now that you know more about the signs of insomnia, it’s time to figure out if this is what you’re suffering from. If you believe that you are suffering from insomnia, your next step should be to speak to your doctor about possible treatment options.
Of course, if it’s only been for a couple of nights, you can also try to wait it out and see if your sleep returns to normal.
If you believe that your sleep environment is to blame for your insomnia, then we suggest you check out our mattress selection today.
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