Many adults, at one time or another, have had to deal with problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Whether it’s a change in life, a change in hormones, or a new, stressful job that’s causing it, insomnia is a frustrating problem that up to 30% of adults have to deal with at least part of the time. So what can you do about it? How can you better understand it? And most importantly, is there a cure? If you’re curious about insomnia and its effect on your general health, here are a few key facts you should be aware of.
It’s More Common Than You Think
Whether it’s a month-long problem or a chronic issue, most adults have had to deal with a bout of sleeplessness at one time or another. For many adults, it’s stress-related: A new job is requiring you to take on a ton of extra responsibility, and just thinking about it makes your heart beat and your mind race at night. For others, it’s the result of a bodily change. Many older adults simply have a harder time sleeping when dealing with some of the chronic pain that accompanies the aging process. No matter the cause, most people have had their share of insomnia-like symptoms of sleeplessness and frequent nightly awakenings through the years.
It’s Often Caused By Stress
For many adults, a pre-existing health condition or environmental change can bring on a course of insomnia. For instance, moving to a place where it’s extremely light out even in the winter, or even dealing with a seasonal change can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm. If you’re someone who works an overnight shift at a job, chances are you’ll be dealing with some level of insomnia simply because your body isn’t used to having to fall asleep in the daytime. But for most of us, it’s stress-related. The good news is that stress-related insomnia means that it could be totally temporary: Deal with the stress factor, and your insomnia will gradually disappear.
Sometimes It’s a Side Effect
If you’re taking a new anti-depressant or medication, insomnia might be one of your unlucky new side effects. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be dealing with it throughout your whole course of treatment. Even though many medications like beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and high cholesterol meds can cause insomnia, often the effect wears off after your body gets used to the drug. If it’s still a problem after a few months, talk to your doctor about switching your medication. You can also use natural herbs, supplements, and sleep aids like melatonin to help your body adjust to change.
There’s No Cure, But There are Many Ways to Cope
Despite the fact that chronic insomnia affects up to 10% of adults worldwide, science has been able to find very little in the way of a cure. When it comes to treating insomnia, the best medicine is usually therapy, preferably a course of cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT takes an active approach to changing around old, unhelpful behavioral problems by introducing creative solutions. For instance, if you’re someone who’s stubborn about tossing and turning for hours in bed, CBT might convince you that it’s far more helpful not to fight those sleepless hours, and instead try to use them to do calming, soothing activities that won’t leave you frustrated and angry. Meeting with a therapist frequently can help you form better sleep practices that will make falling asleep feel easier and more intuitive. Therapy can also help reduce the stress that’s probably causing your insomnia in the first place.