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Not sleeping properly? Let’s explore why!

I’ve got to get some sleep!

Welcome to part one of a five part post series that explores the impact of poor sleeping patterns on us and what we can do to turn things around.

Do you face the difficulty of falling asleep and staying asleep at night? It’s killing you, but what’s causing it?

Often times, insomnia is caused by multiple reasons, such as not getting enough rest, hunger, psychological trauma and so on. No matter what the reason is, millions of human beings suffer from the devil called insomnia. It robs you of a restful sleep, saps your energy and destroys your productivity the next day. Not to mention the detrimental effect on your own physical and mental health. It’s a common problem for many of us in today’s world; our modern society has screwed up sleep cycles with shorter hours of sleep. To make things worse, the sleep we do get comes at odd hours. We break the healthy habit of ‘early to bed, early to rise’. Which of course can help make us healthy, wealthy and wise!

As a result of our ‘always on’ society, our mind doesn’t know when to shut down and becomes accustomed to staying up late. That’s one of the reasons insomnia has become an epidemic. What people fail to understand is that the body will not be able to function properly if they receive a small amount of sleep one night and expect to compensate their sleep gap by taking naps later on in the day. While this may seem possible and useful in the beginning, this type of sleep pattern is not sustainable in the long-term. Eventually, the mind and body will collapse, and you will then experience complete exhaustion until you get enough rest. The best way to tackle this issue is to have a fixed schedule to sleep and practice a healthy sleep routine. Typically insomnia will be linked to another medical or psychiatric issue; meaning that the reason why you might not be sleeping properly may be due to stress. What seems to be a typical situation will seem more stressful if you haven’t slept.

A restless mind and body will feel annoyed by any stimulus from the immediate environment.

Two types of insomniacs.

1. Acute Insomnia

There are two main types of insomnia. The first type is the kind of insomnia where you only suffer a couple of restless nights. Often times, you’re able to fall asleep and stay asleep easily. For many, restless sleepers might not think that they are suffering from it but the fact is, they could be having Acute Insomnia.

So what is Acute Insomnia? This kind of insomnia comes from our core levels of stress that insomniacs are experiencing at a given moment. They will face a short period where they are not able to fall asleep because of the life circumstances they are facing. This type of insomnia doesn’t last for a prolonged time. Instead, it only happens when certain factors or events occur and last a specified period of time.

For instance, acute insomnia might occur after you faced the wrath of your boss, got a bad grade on a test, got rejected by someone, or merely because you’ve had a bad day. These situations can cause a person to have a night or two where he or she simply cannot get any sleep as their mind is on ‘replay’.  Many people may have experienced this kind of insomnia and it tends to resolve on its own.

2. Chronic Insomnia

The second type of insomnia is known as Chronic Insomnia. It’s a prolonged kind of insomnia which occurs at least three nights per week and can last for months. Usually, this occurs when you are facing a significant change in your environment, physically or mentally. It could be moving to a new home, losing a loved one, being in a new workplace, facing challenges in school, or having trouble adapting to a harsher weather. Perhaps, the reason why chronic insomniacs are having trouble with sleep is that they have developed an unhealthy sleep habit without a proper sleep routine and have not put any reverse mechanisms in place.

The Causes of Insomnia

Regardless of the types of insomnia, the causes are the same. The difference lies in the intensity of emotions a person experiences over a set period of time. Besides that, underlying medical conditions can also contribute to insomnia. These medical conditions can be either severe or mild, inducing insomnia to occur at a different point in a person’s life. These symptoms include nasal allergies, sinus allergies, lower back pain, overall chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, asthma, and other neurological problems. Menopause in women is a classic culprit for insomnia.

The stress on an insomniacs body will cause the mind to stay awake for a longer period of time. For instance, those who catch a cold will realize that they are staying awake for the majority of the night or they might find themselves waking up frequently. Both of these factors can result in a person having a severe lack of sleep and rest. They might try to relax while having a cold, but insomnia will prevail. Fortunately, insomnia is treatable in many of these cases.

Physical pain can also cause insomnia as the body cannot get into a comfortable position to rest. Have you ever experienced sleepless nights because you’re unable to get into a comfortable position? This situation is typical when you experience any pain in your body. The best way to fall asleep and stay asleep fast is to invest in a truly comfortable, quality bedding, including mattress, sheets and comforters. You spend a lot of time in this location (one third of your life!) so make the most of it. It will also aid in healing and ensure a more productive sleep. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a constant battle to fall asleep and even opt for unnecessary medication if you can’t get into your best sleeping posture.

But did you know that there are also risk factors of insomnia?

Tomorrow – The risk factors of insomnia.

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Written by Scott Williams

Scott Williams is one of Australia's most respected corporate communicators.

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Insomnia is a risky business!