While millions of Americans
may be lying awake in bed on any given night, the sleep disorder causes vary from person to person.
Many sleep disorders are secondary to a variety of medical and mental-health
disorders, pain, and even the treatments for these disorders. Medical
conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, emphysema, stroke,
and others may have nighttime symptoms that disturb sleep. Depressive
illnesses and anxiety disorders are common causes of sleep disorders,
as is the pain from conditions like arthritis, cancer, and acid
reflux, to name a few.
Transient insomnia may be triggered by stress, a cold, headache,
toothache, bruised muscles, backache, indigestion or itchy rash.
It can also be caused by jet travel that involves rapid time-zone
Short-term insomnia, lasting up to 3 weeks, may result from anxiety,
nervousness and physical and mental tension.
Most often long-term insomnia stems from medical conditions such
as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, chronic sinusitis,
epilepsy or ulcers. Long-term impaired sleep can also caused by
chronic drug or alcohol use, consumption of caffeinated beverages
and abuse of sleeping pills.
It's just too early!
Trouble falling asleep, the most common form of sleep disturbance,
may be brought on simply by going to bed too early. Sleep cannot
be forced. You should not go to sleep until you are sleepy. If you
turn in too early -- even if you do fall asleep--you could experience
a disturbed night's rest or could wake early without feeling refreshed.
Regular exercise tends to benefit sleep, but right at bedtime exercise
is one of the common causes of sleep disorders. Vigorous exercise,
especially just before sleep, can cause arousal and delay sleep.
The best time to exercise is in the afternoon or early evening.
Laboratory tests have shown that daytime naps are a common cause
of sleep disorders. Although many people feel like napping in the
late afternoon, most sleep better if they don't nap during the day.
While hunger may keep some awake, heavy meals, alcohol, and caffeine-containing
beverages are all causes of sleep disorders. Since nicotine stimulates
the nervous system and can interfere with sleep, smoking is also
thought to be a cause of sleep disorders.
The effect of alcohol is deceiving. It may induce sleep, but chances
are alcohol consumption will not produce a good night's sleep. The
sleeper usually wakes up in the middle of the night when the alcohol's
relaxing effect wears off.
The best way to sleep better is to keep a regular schedule for sleeping.
Those who suffer from sleep disorders need to go to bed at about
the same time every night, but only when tired, and they awaken
at the same time every day, regardless of how well they slept the
night before. Establishing a regular wakeup time helps solidify
the biological rhythms that establish periods of peak efficiency
during the 24-hour day.