Understanding Insomnia

Libby Shively McAvoy
Photo byEnvato Elements Purchased Image License PYXMJDKSNH

What is Insomnia

Sleep is vital for life. Lack of sleep affects our ability to cope with life’s stressors, weakens our immune system, and affects our ability to function during the day. It is a vicious cycle because when stressed, we often get restless and struggle to sleep, yet that lack of sleep leads to more stress.

Insomnia is a common sleeping disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing non-restful sleep. 30–40% of Americans have experienced insomnia. Some people have short bouts, and others are plagued by chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia can leave you feeling desperate.

Causes of Insomnia

  • stress and anxiety
  • irregular schedule
  • physical illness or pain
  • caffeine or alcohol
  • jet lag
  • using electronic devices before bed
  • mental health disorders
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • diabetes
  • restless leg syndrome

I have experienced short bouts of insomnia, which is the worst feeling. I sometimes toss and turn long enough; I surrender and get up despite the hour. Restless leg syndrome and stress are the leading causes of my insomnia.

Approximately 23.8% of teens have insomnia. Biological changes cause them to stay up late. Generally, they have to get up early for school. Many teens are overly scheduled and stressed both academically and socially.

Older adults face the danger of falling at night. Falling is a significant health concern and the leading cause of accidental death among the elderly.

Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS is a persistent and disruptive urge to move the legs at night. It is sometimes referred to as jumpy legs. Richard P. Allen, Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, used MRI to image the brain and found glutamate, a neurotransmitter involved in arousal, abnormally high in people with restless leg syndrome.

Some studies indicate a magnesium deficiency may cause restless leg syndrome. Magnesium supplements are available over the counter. You can also add magnesium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, bananas, avocados, beans, and lentils.

Other Alternative Remedies For RSL

  • hot bath
  • massage
  • exercise during the day
  • bedtime meditation

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is now recommended as a treatment for insomnia. This helps control negative thoughts that keep you awake or wake you at night. It can also help prevent you from worrying about not being able to fall asleep, which ironically causes you to remain awake. The mind is powerful.

Final Thoughts

Insomnia can affect work performance, health, and quality of life. If you struggle to function during the day, consult your physician. Your doctor may recommend a sleep study.

I wish you all deep, delicious sleep and sweet dreams.







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Libby is a Personal Development and Relationship coach specializing in emotional intelligence. By blending motivational speaking, leading yoga and wellness retreats, and writing, she has mastered the art of living her best life while helping others.

Cincinnati, OH

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