Sleepless nights without reason – dealing with unexplained insomnia

Published December 2, 2014

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Insomnia is a common sleep disorder where people may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both. It can cause sleepiness during the day and a lack of energy, as well as making you feel irritable or anxious. A lack of sleep may also impact on problems at work or school, because it causes difficulty in paying attention, learning and remembering.1

Insomnia can be acute, lasting from a single night to a couple of weeks, or persistent, lasting at least three nights a week for a month or more. Acute insomnia can be caused by stressful events such as relationship issues, moving house or the loss of a loved one. Other causes include emotional or physical discomfort, jet lag and some foods and medicines. Persistent insomnia, on the other hand, is caused mainly by conditions such as anxiety, long‐term stress, or pain at night.2 Sometimes, the reasons why you may suddenly start experiencing insomnia are less obvious. The following tips may help to relieve your unexplained insomnia.

Avoid alcohol and stimulants

Alcohol, nicotine from cigarettes and caffeine from foods such as coffee, energy drinks or chocolate may all interfere with your ability to sleep. Avoid altogether or limit your intake and avoid them completely from late afternoon onwards.3

Get some exercise

Physical activity and regular exercise are important for overall health and may also help to reduce insomnia and improve quality of sleep. Ensure that you include exercise in your daily routine, but avoid doing it within a few hours of bedtime.3

Minimise disruptions

Keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and at the correct temperature will help to improve your sleep patterns. You could also try using earplugs and an eye mask to help you sleep.3

If you experience severe insomnia symptoms, or they persist for a significant period of time, ensure you see your healthcare professional. They will help you to identify possible causes and recommend an effective treatment plan.

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