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An In-Depth Look At Insomnia

Posted on September 30, 2019


What keeps you up at night? Is it late-night sugar? An upset stomach? Do your legs get restless and kick? Are you anxious or depressed? Did you have a large meal before bed? Are you on your phone, or interacting with other digital screens while you lay in the dark? Do you struggle to take deep breaths when you sleep? Are thoughts running through your mind?

There are a number of factors – medical issues, mental health issues, and lifestyle issues – which can contribute to the development of insomnia. For some, insomnia is as simple as difficulty obtaining consistent, restful sleep. For others, insomnia is overwhelming and debilitating. They catch hardly any sleep for days on end, causing wear and tear on their minds, bodies, and spirits. 

What Causes Insomnia?

In order to rest deeply, the body and the mind have to be able to achieve productive rest. If something in our system is off, our system doesn’t operate properly. Insomnia can be caused by medical or psychiatric conditions, poor “sleep hygiene,” substance use (both illegal and prescribed), or biological factors. In order to find solutions to insomnia, it’s important to first understand what may be causing your sleep difficulties.

Insomnia can be caused by:

  • Medical conditions 
  • Substance use and addiction
  • Mental health conditions, including anxiety and PTSD
  • Digestive issues
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lifestyle

Lifestyle can also be a great contributor to chronic sleep deprivation. Lack of exercise, poor diet, poor eating schedule, overworking, too much digital screen time, and poor stress management can all contribute to difficulty sleeping. Over time, too much sleep irregularity can lead to chronic insomnia, which can result in a host of physical as well as psychological issues.

Dangers Of Chronic Insomnia

The New York Times put the dangers of insomnia about as plainly as possible in their article titled, “Insomnia Can Kill You.” At particular risk of the effects or older adults. “Chronic insomnia, which affects 5 – 10% of older adults, is more than just exhausting. It’s also linked to an increased risk of developing hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, depression, anxiety, and premature death.”

Chronic sleep deprivation can weaken the body as well as the mind during hours of what should be rest. During waking hours, chronic exhaustion impairs our cognitive functioning and physical ability, putting ourselves and others in the face of potential dangers.

Alcohol and Drug Use

Unfortunately, people often turn to substances to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia. Insomnia has been associated with improper medication use, illegal drug use, and withdrawal from drugs. Likewise, sleep disturbances also have been linked to alcohol, as well as alcoholism. This can lead to further sleep disruptions and, over time, substance use disorders or addiction. 

Treatments For Insomnia

Since sleep is one of the most critical and important parts of our lives, much science has been dedicated to understanding why we have difficulty sleeping, as well as how we can get better sleep. Treatments for chronic insomnia are available, across multiple disciplines. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be modified to address the needs of a patient with insomnia. Complementary therapies, which can include holistic practices and lifestyle changes, can also help contribute to positive sleep improvements. Both prescription medications and over the counter medications exist to help improve sleep but are never guaranteed to be “cures” for insomnia. These must be administered with care, under a doctor’s supervision, and are not considered a healthy long term solution. However, when used in combination with lifestyle changes, better sleep hygiene, and therapy, the brief use of medications can help foster a full, deep night’s sleep.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296