Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health. However, some people struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, and a sleepless night can set a poor tone for the entire day. That is why many people who experience insomnia or other abnormal sleep patterns want to understand what is causing their sleep disorder and how they can fix it.
Insomnia itself is a fairly straightforward disorder, but it might also be an indicator of other physical or mental health problems. Learning about the symptoms and causes of insomnia is the key to treating the issue at its source and creating healthier, more sustainable sleep patterns. Discover everything you should know about insomnia and sleep patterns, as well as their connection to mental health.
What Is Insomnia?
It is important to remember that insomnia is more than just a bad night’s sleep. It is a type of sleep disorder that disrupts sleep patterns and affects your overall well-being. For some people, insomnia is a short-term issue that can lead to a couple of bad days. For others, insomnia lasts much longer and can create major problems in all aspects of life. Both long- and short-term insomnia can take a serious toll on your mind and body; therefore, it is crucial to address the issue as quickly as possible so you can regain control over your sleep schedule.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Normal sleep patterns vary from person to person, meaning a disrupted sleep pattern for one person might be perfectly healthy for someone else. For example, some people naturally need less sleep than others, so getting only six hours of sleep a night is still perfectly healthy. For others, though, six hours of sleep might not be enough to feel energized, positive, and productive during the day.
Understanding the different symptoms of insomnia is essential in determining what is an unusual but healthy sleep pattern and what is an unhealthy sleep disruption. The biggest indicators of insomnia are struggling to fall asleep, waking up throughout the night, or waking up too early and being unable to fall asleep again. Additionally, many people with insomnia experience anxiety about the fact that they will not be able to fall asleep.
Other insomnia symptoms can affect you during the day. You might experience fatigue, irritability, or mood swings as a result of poor-quality sleep. Poor reflexes and difficulty concentrating or remembering things can also stem from insomnia.
Types of Insomnia
There are several different types of insomnia, though they all revolve around abnormal sleep patterns. Certain characteristics, such as when you experience insomnia and how long it lasts, determine which type of insomnia you have.
Acute insomnia refers to the short-term version of insomnia. It can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Acute insomnia often occurs during or after a significant change or stressful life event. Losing sleep because of an upcoming job interview, a big move, or the death of a loved one are all examples of acute insomnia.
Long-term insomnia is known as chronic insomnia. It typically lasts for three months or longer and affects your sleep on a regular basis—usually three or more nights a week. Chronic insomnia can also occur as the result of stressful changes or life events. However, other forms of chronic insomnia stem from underlying causes, such as physical health problems or Mental Health Disorders.
If your insomnia impacts your ability to fall asleep initially, you have onset insomnia. Acute cases of onset insomnia might be the result of caffeine consumption or a change in your nighttime routine. However, it can also stem from Mental Health Conditions and other common insomnia causes. Many people with onset insomnia also experience anxiety about being able to fall asleep, which can make it more difficult to sleep and exacerbates the symptoms of insomnia and its underlying causes.
People with maintenance insomnia might be able to fall asleep, but they struggle to stay asleep throughout the night. Waking up every few hours, tossing and turning, and other fitful sleep patterns lead to a poorer quality of sleep. This means that even if you go to bed and get up at a reasonable time, you still experience fatigue, mood changes, and other symptoms.
Early Waking Insomnia
Early waking insomnia causes you to wake up too early. Those with early waking insomnia might wake up naturally hours before they intend to. And once they are awake, they struggle to fall asleep again. This cuts a good night’s sleep short and leads to exhaustion once the day begins.
Causes of Insomnia
You can also divide insomnia into primary and secondary categories. These revolve around the source or cause of insomnia.
With primary insomnia, there is no clear underlying cause; the source of your disrupted sleep is insomnia itself. However, there are specific factors that make certain people more susceptible to insomnia. These include a genetic history of sleep disorders or differences in brain chemistry or activity.
Secondary insomnia stems from an underlying cause. This might be a short-term issue, such as jet lag, sleeping in a different place, drinking too much caffeine, or taking naps during the day. Secondary insomnia might also be the result of other health conditions, including chronic pain or illness, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, and conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Certain medications might also cause insomnia.
Insomnia and Mental Health Disorders
One of the most important things to know about insomnia and sleep patterns is the role they play in mental health. Insomnia is a common symptom of Mental Health Conditions like Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, and Substance Abuse Disorders.
A major challenge of insomnia as a symptom is that it creates a harmful cycle. If insomnia keeps you up at night, the lack of sleep can exacerbate mental health symptoms. Worsened mental health symptoms can also make your insomnia worse, causing the cycle to repeat.
Addressing Insomnia With Mental Health Treatment
When Mental Health Disorders are the underlying cause of insomnia, you need professional treatment that addresses the issue at its source. Working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist through evidence-based treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps treat your Mental Health Disorder so you can overcome insomnia and other symptoms.
When it is time to pursue mental health treatment from a professional, turn to Blair Wellness Group. Our concierge services make it easy to find convenient, compassionate, and effective care from a therapist in Irvine, CA. Reach out today and let us help you address your insomnia so you can improve your well-being and enjoy an overall higher quality of life.