Overcoming Insomnia and Finding Rest Again

Woman laying in bed in the middle of the night with her hands over her face because she can't sleep.

One of the most common sleeping disorders is insomnia, which affects how well people fall and stay asleep. Insomnia affects more than 70 million people in the U.S. and is most often caused by psychological, physical and environmental factors. Unfortunately, many doctors provide patients with sleep medications that treat the symptoms of insomnia but not the cause of it. Find out how you can overcome insomnia and find rest again with this guide!


Understanding Insomnia

One of the worst things to suffer from is a lack of sleep, especially when you have a hectic lifestyle. Sleep disorders are very common, and insomnia is one of the most prolific of them all. Insomnia is a sleep disturbance condition that affects how well you fall and stay asleep. More than 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia and struggle to overcome it. People with insomnia struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep and often wake up very early in the morning. When you don’t receive adequate rest each night, your body struggles to perform at its highest level and often finds it difficult to do even small, menial task. While it’s normal to feel tired from a busy day or hard week at work, you should be able to sleep well each night even after participating in various activities. There are two types of insomnia that affect how people sleep: acute and chronic. Acute insomnia is short-lasting and typically is caused by a life circumstance (like struggling to sleep the night before a big exam). Acute insomnia resolves on its own and only disrupts your sleep for a short period of time. On the other hand, chronic insomnia occurs at least three nights per week and lasts for three months or longer. Chronic insomnia sometimes is linked to psychiatric or medical problems that prevent the body from resting at night, but this isn’t always the case.


Factors That Increase Insomnia Symptoms

There are four different categories that explain why insomnia occurs. The first category deals with psychological factors, like anxiety, grief, stress and depression. These psychological feelings can overwhelm the mind, especially at night, and prevent your body from sleeping like normal. Lifestyle factors are another reason why patients’ sleep cycles get messed up. Eating and drinking late at night, taking daytime naps, watching TV or reading late at night and exercising at night are all lifestyle factors that influence how well your body can shut down and rest for the next few hours. Physical factors, like chronic pain, malnutrition and negative side effects caused by certain medications can also keep you awake at night. Lastly, environmental factors (i.e. the space where you sleep) greatly influences your sleep patterns. Having a snoring partner, sleeping on an uncomfortable bed and too much light or noise in the bedroom can prevent you from falling and staying asleep.


Unfortunately, women are more likely to experience insomnia than men, and older people tend to suffer from it more than the young. However, many people don’t recognize that they have insomnia even though they show obvious signs of it. Lack of energy, irritability, excessive drowsiness and having problems remembering and learning things all point to insomnia. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to meet with your doctor to get tested. While these symptoms may not seem distracting or problematic at first, they’ll eventually interrupt your sleep to the point where rest seems impossible to achieve.


Treatment Options Patient laying on medical bed with tubes around her body as she prepares for a sleep study.

Since insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the United States, most physicians are experienced with treating it. Before treatment begins, you’ll have a physical exam done to see if any underlying medical conditions are causing your symptoms and blood work is often taken to identify thyroid deficiencies. If that doesn’t work, a sleep study is recommended to monitor your body’s activities while you sleep, such as eye movements, heartbeat, breathing and brain waves. Once diagnosed, it’s a common practice to shove sleep medications at patients in the hope that their insomnia will be cured. This practice may help you sleep for a time, but it doesn’t cure the reason behind your symptoms. Additionally, these prescription medications often lead to dependence, meaning you’ll never be able to sleep without them once you’re hooked. If your doctor does prescribe you a sleep aid, it should only be taken for a few weeks and you should make sure to do your research about its side effects before beginning treatment.


Besides medications, the first step that most doctors take when treating insomnia is improving patients’ sleep habits and addressing stress and medical conditions that are often the root cause of this problem. By reducing stress or changing medications that you are taking, symptoms often resolve on their own. If this doesn’t work, though, some physicians will recommend cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to teach patients how to eliminate negative thoughts and/or beliefs that are keeping them awake at night. It also involves relaxation techniques and sleep restrictions (no daytime napping, restricted amount of time in bed, etc.) to reduce anxiety and induce sleepiness. You can even do stimulus control therapy, which is a form of therapy that coaches your mind to remove the factors that are causing your body to resist sleep. This may include setting a consistent bedtime, avoiding naps and being in bed only during sleep and sex. This coaching method helps you remove the stimuli that is preventing you from falling and staying asleep at night so that when you actually go to bed, you can rest.


Find Rest Again With Our Help!

At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we treat many patients with insomnia and have successfully helped them find restfulness in their lives. We conduct an in-depth evaluation of your lifestyle and dietary habits to determine where your insomnia is stemming from before an individualized treatment plan is started for you. If you’re ready to find sleep again, call our office at (970) 631-8286. Call today to begin your journey to a happier, healthier life!