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What Causes Insomnia?

Struggling to sleep? Then you might have been doing some late night Googling to find out what causes insomnia. Turns out, there are many different factors that can affect your sleep.

What is insomnia?

According to the Australian Psychological Society, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder – and one of the most prevalent health complaints among adults. Even mild insomnia affects around 10% of us.
It’s defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep (or waking up too early), even though you’d lying in bed and wishing you’d drift off to dreamland.
To be diagnosed with acute insomnia, you need to have experienced sleep difficulties for less than a month. Chronic insomnia is diagnosed when you’ve struggled to sleep for at least a month, and for three or more times a week.
Some sleep authorities including the International Classification of Sleep Disorders define chronic insomnia after six months – but that guideline is being reviewed.
Women are twice as likely to have insomnia, compared to men. The Sleep Health Foundation says this could be because rates of depression and anxiety are higher among women.

Why do I have insomnia?

There are many reasons why you may have trouble sleeping. Often, insomnia only lasts a short while – say because you’re stressed about a work issue. But around 5% of the population will need to seek treatment for chronic insomnia.
Here are some common causes of insomnia:
  • Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety
  • Stress at work or home
  • Some medications
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Grieving
  • Worrying about sleep

How can I cure my insomnia?

It may be possible to get back into a healthy sleep pattern by adopting these simple habits:
  • Switch off digital devices at least at hour before bed.
  • Have a pre-sleep routine, which might include reading a book, having a bath or meditating.
  • Only use bed for intimacy and sleep, so your brain knows to unwind when you climb under the covers.
  • Drink herbal teas and avoid alcohol and caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Eat dinner at least two hours before bed, so you don’t go to bed full or ravenous.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment: block out light and turn off any distracting sounds.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night, to reboot your body’s internal clock and sleep hormones.

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