If you’re someone who spends most of the night tossing and turning and checking the time on the clock, you’re definitely not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, there are an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffering from some kind of sleep disorder. That’s a lot of people walking around cranky and groggy!
Symptoms of Insomnia
People troubled by insomnia experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting back to sleep when they wake up at a very early hour. These sleep disturbances cause stress and anxiety, and make every day activities like working, remembering, and thinking clearly very challenging. Insomnia also typically causes irritability and fatigue. Persistent insomnia may also be a contributing factor of depression.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia is a complex condition that is still being studied. So far we do know that there are certain conditions that make people more prone to insomnia:
– Age – people over 60 are more susceptible
– Gender – females, on average, are more susceptible
– A history of depression can make you more susceptible
The main culprits of insomnia are:
– Jet lag
– Shift work
– Stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol taken too soon before bed
– An overactive thyroid
– Steroid use
– Certain prescription medications (if you’re currently taking any, speak with your doctor about insomnia side effects)
– Restless leg syndrome
– Menopause and hot flashes
– Gastrointestinal conditions such as heartburn
– Conditions that make it hard to breathe like asthma and sleep apnea
– Chronic pain
As I mentioned, anxiety and depression are two of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. In these cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. CBT targets the thoughts and actions that are disrupting your sleep night after night. This therapeutic strategy encourages good sleep habits while relieving anxiety.
Some therapists may use a combination of relaxation therapy and biofeedback to reduce anxiety in clients. Others may employ different strategies like breathwork and positive thinking.
Counselors recognize that each client is an individual with individual needs. One-on-one talk therapy will help a counselor determine the specific causes – in some cases there may be multiple culprits – and put together a comprehensive strategy for relief.
If you are suffering from insomnia and would like to explore practical coping strategies for getting a better night’s sleep, please contact us. We have a counselor available to discuss how you might get the rest you need.