Insomnia symptoms: What is insomnia, what causes it?

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Insomnia affects one in three Brits, and nearly a quarter of us admit to only getting five hours of shut eye a night. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, and failing to get enough sleep can leave you feeling tired all the time. So what is insomnia and what causes it?

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for you to fall asleep.

The symptoms are different for everyone, but it always leads to sleep deprivation and feeling tired.

Insomnia can last for a matter of months or even years.

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Insomnia symptoms

You have insomnia if you regularly:

  • find it hard to go to sleep
  • wake up several times during the night
  • lie awake at night
  • wake up early and cannot go back to sleep
  • still feel tired after waking up
  • find it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
  • feel tired and irritable during the day
  • find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired

What causes insomnia?

The most common causes of insomnia are:

  • stress, anxiety or depression
  • noise
  • a room that’s too hot or cold
  • uncomfortable beds
  • alcohol, caffeine or nicotine
  • recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy
  • jet lag
  • shift work

However, your insomnia could also be caused by a mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Other causes of insomnia include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, restless legs syndrome, overactive thyroid, and other conditions.

It’s important to rule out these health concerns before trying to cure your insomnia with simple methods.

The NHS website also notes that things like long-term pain, sleepwalking, snoring, narcolepsy, or nightmares or night terrors could be causing your insomnia.

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How to cure insomnia

The most important thing to do when trying to combat insomnia is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Establishing a pattern like this will help your body get into a routine of sleeping early.

This way, you’ll consistently get enough sleep.

Getting enough exercise in the day and making sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable will also help.

Ori Leslau, sleep expert and founder of Kally Sleep has revealed his top tips to cure insomnia.

He said: “Insomnia can be a real problem, making it hard to get through the day.

“Long term sleep deprivation can zap your energy, put you in a bad mood and even lead to physical and mental health issues, so sorting it out is vital.

“A good place to start is by making sure you have at least 30 minutes of quiet ‘winding down’ time before you go to bed.

“Dim the lights slightly and have a nice relaxing bath or read a book.”

Blue light is terrible for insomnia, so make sure to switch off electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets at the same time.

Ori said: “This is because when they’re on, the light from their screens can put your brain in daytime mode so making it harder to nod off.”

You should also stop smoking, drinking alcohol, tea or coffee at least six hours before going to bed, and avoid eating a big meal late at night.

Ori’s final tip is to calm down your mind with something that relaxes you.

He suggested: “Finally, slow your mind down by doing some meditation or deep breathing exercises, or perhaps some light yoga.”

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