If you have insomnia, you're having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. It’s labeled chronic insomnia if it happens at least three times a week for three months or longer. This sleep disorder can be caused by medical conditions, lifestyle and other factors.
Here are 10 signs that you may be dealing with insomnia:
1) Difficulty falling asleep and waking up too early
People with insomnia may feel exhausted when they attempt to sleep, but they still can’t fall asleep. Or they wake up too early and can’t fall back asleep.
2) Medical conditions
Those linked to insomnia include allergies, asthma, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine issues like hyperthyroidism, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Others conditions with possible links to insomnia are lower back or chronic pain, cancer, heart failure, lung disease and stroke.
Some prescription drugs like antidepressants, or medications for allergies, blood pressure and heart problems can cause insomnia. So can corticosteroids, and some types of birth control and stimulants. Many over-the-counter drugs like pain and weight-loss medications and decongestants may also contribute to insomnia.
For some people, depression is a direct cause of insomnia. On the flip side, insomnia can be a direct cause of depression. Sleep restriction essentially turns off the parts of the brain that are tasked with regulating mood and stimulating positive thinking, according to MedicalHealthDaily.com.
5) Anxiety and stress
Several anxiety symptoms can lead to insomnia. These symptoms include feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated, excessive worrying, tension and negative thoughts about past events. Stressful life events like the death of a loved one or a job loss may lead to insomnia, according to SleepFoundation.org.
Feeling sluggish, both mentally and physically, can be a sign of insomnia. Fatigue can interfere with or hinder the ability to function during everyday activities.
7) Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine
Drinking coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated drinks — which are known stimulants — later in the day or evening can keep you from falling asleep. Tobacco products — also stimulants — can cause insomnia. With alcohol, you may fall asleep, but it thwarts deeper sleep stages and can cause people to wake up in the middle of the night.
8) Issues with the brain’s neurotransmitters
Certain neurotransmitters are known to be linked with sleep and wakefulness. There are many possible chemical interactions with those neurotransmitters that could interfere with sleep causing insomnia, according to SleepFoundation.org.
9) Cognitive and physical impairment
Chronic insomnia can lead to impairment when doing activities at home, work and school. It can result in the inability to learn and concentrate. The ability to think critically can also be impaired.
10) Dependence on substances to sleep
Dependence on things like antihistamines, illegal drugs or sleeping pills to fall asleep, may be signs of insomnia.
If insomnia is hampering your quality of life, talk to your doctor to help determine its cause and treatment.
Reviewed March 4, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
"What Causes Insomnia?" - Insomnia. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
"Insomnia." - Mayo Clinic. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
"Do I Have Insomnia?" - National Sleep Foundation. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
"Insomnia Symptoms & Signs (List)." Insomnia Symptoms & Signs. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.