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Trouble Sleeping? Causes and Solutions

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We’ve all had a night of poor sleep at some point in life. While everyone would love to reach that magical 8-hour number, the realities of adulthood don’t always make that possible. Most of us are satisfied with 6-7 hours per night, though others require more rest.

Sleeping poorly once in a while is not a sign of some major concern, but what if it’s every night? What if you’re getting 3-5 hours per night or even less? Here is what we know about sleep problems and how to treat them.

What is Considered a Sleep Problem?

Those with sleep problems fit into several different categories. While no two people are the same, there are common attributes of sleeping disorders. These include:

  • Low quality sleep

  • Chronic sleep loss

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Difficulty staying asleep

  • Waking up too early

Many different factors contribute to sleeping challenges. Personal choices, lifestyle, sleep habits, and health conditions can also be contributing factors. Adults tend to be impacted the most by sleeping problems. Up to 50% of adults have difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep. While adults should get at least 7 hours per night, very few of them do.

Causes of Sleep Problems

Certain health conditions such as sleep apnea, heartburn, heart failure, and thyroid disease often struggle with sleep problems. Certain disorders impact the nervous system or make it difficult to breathe, which impacts one’s sleep quality. Other causes include:

  • Overstimulation from electronic devices, or exercise

  • Certain medications such as Adderall, or other stimulants

  • Eating large amounts of food late in the evening

  • Under severe psychological stress

  • Light sensitivity

  • Sensitive to noises and other stimuli (frequent wake-ups)

  • Anxiety, depression, PTSD, Bipolar disorder

  • Traumatic event

  • Pregnancy

Children with behavioral problems or troubles in school tend to struggle with sleeping problems. Inactivity, breathing problems, or consuming too much sugar at night also contributes to children-related sleep disorders.

Sometimes there is not one single cause. There is significant evidence that anxiety and sleep problems are genetic. A person may start sleeping poorly after a certain age, just as his/her parents did. Or, an individual may be unsure of why they don't sleep well, as there aren’t any underlying conditions.

While it’s important to find out why the sleep issue is occurring, it’s more important to find the right treatment. So, if you can’t find a reason for a sleeping issue, don’t worry about it too much. A therapist or doctor may be able to assist in your sleep recovery journey.

Types of Sleep Problems

The primary types of sleep problems include:

  • Insomnia – Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It can last a few weeks, months, or years

  • Sleep Apnea – Airways are blocked, stopping someone from breathing while they sleep.

  • RLS – Tingling or aching in the legs with a frequent urge to move them

  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder – Delayed reaction to darkness causes someone to not fall asleep until late at night

Solving the Problem

It may take trial and error, work with a physician, and assistance from a therapist/sleep specialist to overcome a sleep disorder. Or, the problem may go away naturally. Either way, there are several choices you can make to try and improve your sleep. These include:

  • Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day to get on a schedule

  • Avoid stimulants before bed

  • Don’t eat late at night

  • Take a warm bath or read a book

  • Don’t go on your phone

  • Minimize stress

  • Increase exercise during the day

  • Make the room as dark as possible

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, it may not be enough to make some basic lifestyle changes. Working with a therapist can help to address the root cause of your anxiety and sleeping problems so you can get the rest you need. Medications may be prescribed by a psychiatrist or general doctor to assist in the process.

Do you struggle with sleeping problems or anxiety? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.

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