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Woman with insomnia

5 Unexpected and Surprising Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep problems in the world – especially sudden-onset insomnia. 

According to 2020 researchmore than a third of all adults report new or acute insomnia each year. 

No single cause explains sudden insomnia, but our environment, genetics, health, lifestyle choices, and stress levels all contribute to the issue. 

If you experience challenges falling asleep, difficulty waking, extreme daytime fatigue, abrupt sleep pattern changes, or frequent nighttime waking, insomnia is to blame. 

While occasional insomnia isn’t cause for huge concern, it leads to serious conditions over time. 

Risks of Ignoring Insomnia

Insomnia causes many dangerous issues if left untreated. 

For example, daytime sleepiness associated with insomnia is proven to increase the risk of injuries and car accidents. 

Over time, intense fatigue linked to insomnia is known to raise rates of depression, stress, and decreased focus. 

As if that wasn’t already frightening enough, chronic fatigue is often the root of work or relationship issues that stem from cognitive and behavioral issues connected to insomnia. 

Tired man covers face

Furthermore, emerging research suggests that insomnia might enhance the risk of other diseases. 

A 2019 study found that insomnia was a rampant symptom of participants suffering from cardiovascular disease, establishing lack of sleep as a risk factor for heart problems. 

That said, more research is needed to determine whether lack of sleep causes cardiovascular disease or if the two are simply correlated. 

No matter the answer, it’s dangerous to ignore insomnia. The first step toward putting an end to your lack of quality rest? Understand what’s causing it – and some of the most common causes may surprise you. 

For example, your choice of late-night snack can make or break your sleep quality. 

1. Fatty Foods At Night

Many of us like to enjoy a late-night snack from time to time. 

However, eating too close to bedtime can influence your ability to fall asleep. 

Just as sleep allows your mind time to rest and restore, it allows your body a chance to do the same. That includes your digestive system. 

When you eat too close to bedtime, your full stomach has to work overtime to digest while you’re trying to rest. That means acid reflux and heartburn, both of which are notorious for disrupting sleep. 

Woman suffers from stomach pain

In fact, a 2011 study revealed that eating within 30 to 60 minutes before bed negatively impacts rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and general sleep efficiency. 

The type of food participants ate mattered, too: those who ate high-fat foods before bed experienced the most notable decreases in REM sleep. 

Therefore, the sooner you eat dinner, the better. Try to allow for at least one or two hours between dinner time and bedtime. 

Aside from rescheduling dinner, avoid fat-rich foods like avocado at night so that your digestive system has a break to prepare for the next morning ahead. 

If you continually reach for alcohol each night, your drink of choice might lead to alcohol induced insomnia or alcohol withdrawal insomnia. 

2. Alcohol Withdrawal Insomnia

Have you ever woken up at 3 AM after a few evening drinks unable to fall back asleep? Alcohol is likely to blame. 

Your favorite vino can help you unwind after a long day, making it easier to fall asleep. 

However, research shows that while alcohol acts as a sedative that helps you drift off, it comes at a cost later in the night. 

When you consume alcohol before bed, a rebound effect leads to light, fragmented sleep that may wake you up in the middle of the night. 

Aside from shortening sleep, alcohol also diminishes the quality of the sleep you do get, so you wake feeling less refreshed than usual.  

Alcohol disrupts REM sleep

If you drink often, you might develop alcohol withdrawal insomnia over time. 

Alcohol stimulates the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that is known for producing a calming effect. 

However, alcohol sends GABA levels soaring to intense heights, causing enhanced relaxation. Once the effect wears off, GABA receptors flip from being over-stimulated to under-stimulated.

Sleeping becomes difficult as GABA levels drop due to alcohol consumption, hence the name alcohol withdrawal insomnia. 

 

@somnifix A nightcap may help you initially fall asleep, but it comes at a cost later in the night, according to Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman 🍷 #biohack #cocktailhour #hubermanlab #sleep ♬ original sound - Somnifix

 

To avoid alcohol induced insomnia or alcohol withdrawal insomnia, limit your drinking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a limit of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. 

Cut off alcohol consumption three hours before bed to limit its effect on sleep quality. 

If you’ve recently switched medications or the dosages of your regular medications have changed, sleep interruptions may follow. 

3. You Switched Medications or Dosages

Many medications are notorious for disrupting sleep, like those for high blood pressure and asthma. 

Others are notorious for causing fatigue, like cold medication or antidepressants. 

If you recently switched medications or added a new one around the time your insomnia began, try switching the time of day you take them – after consulting your health specialist, of course. 

Person holding medication

In the event that you’ve recently raised or lowered the dosage of your regular medication based on doctor's orders, give your body a couple of weeks to adjust to the new amount. 

After several weeks, if you’re still experiencing insomnia, ask your doctor if you can adjust your dose again to alleviate poor sleep. 

In the event that you’ve recently discovered you’re expecting, you may notice that it’s harder than usual to fall and stay asleep. 

4. Early Pregnancy

Pregnancy is well-known to cause insomnia and other sleep challenges. 

In fact, 2015 research suggests that a whopping 66 to 94 percent of people experience sleep difficulties during pregnancy. 

Insomnia is seemingly more common during the early stages of pregnancy and can occur for several reasons. 

A rise in progesterone levels during early pregnancy is known to cause daytime sleepiness, frequent napping, and nighttime waking. 

Sonogram photo

Moreover, back pain, frequent urination, and morning sickness that occur during pregnancy aren’t exactly sleep-friendly. 

While this sudden insomnia typically passes, it’s a good idea to discuss all pregnancy symptoms with a healthcare professional. 

If insomnia persists, you might have an underlying sleep disorder you aren’t yet aware of. 

5. Unknown Sleep Disorders

You may think that you have to have huge disturbances in sleep to have a sleep disorder. That’s not necessarily the case. 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep apnea affects as much as 20 percent of the general population. 

Moreover, it’s been found that 85 percent of people with sleep apnea aren't aware they have it. 

Due to lack of sleep and difficulty concentrating associated with sleep apnea, those with this sleep disorder are six times more likely to die in a car accident. 

You may think that if you don’t snore, you don’t have sleep apnea. While snoring is one potential symptom, others are more subtle. 

Women tries to sleep while husband snores

Gasping for breath during sleep, daytime drowsiness, frequent waking to urinate, morning dry mouth, headaches, unexplained weight gain, and depression are all tied to sleep apnea. 

A sleep study can rule out sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. 

If you’re found to have it, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine helps to keep airways unobstructed as you sleep. This treatment prevents insomnia and improves sleep quality so that you finally wake feeling refreshed. 

However, many people give up on CPAP treatment and revert to a life of untreated sleep apnea. 

This not only increases the risk of accidents related to sleep deprivation, but it also increases your risk for additional medical conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and even death. 

Thankfully, extra focus on your airway habits can help – whether you have sleep apnea or not. 

SomniFix: A Breath of Fresh Air

Overnight mouth breathing leads to snoring and sleep apnea, as it causes airway tissues to fall backward and obstruct our breathing. 

While CPAP therapy is required to correct this disorder, many experience challenges and compliance issues with their CPAP masks. 

CPAP air leaks cause poor complianceChin straps help prevent leaks by supporting the mouth in a closed position, but many sleep apnea sufferers find them cumbersome and uncomfortable. 

Mouth tape offers an alternative to pesky chin straps that promotes nasal breathing over mouth breathing to boost the efficiency of your CPAP therapy (as long as your health specialist approves you to try it out, first). 

If you don’t have sleep apnea but still suffer from insomnia and poor sleep quality, mouth tape can still save the day…and night!

Nasal breathing produces nitric oxide, a vasodilator that helps keep us calm and in a relaxed, parasympathetic state. 

Mouth breathing, on the other hand, leads to over breathing, poor oxygenation, snoring, and fragmented sleep. 

Man and woman use mouth tape for improved sleep quality

Mouth tape provides a lip seal that prevents overnight mouth breathing and enhances sleep quality. 

Before you reach for the first tape you can find, watch out! Most tapes contain irritating chemicals that cause skin rashes. 

SomniFix, however, was designed with all skin types in mind. Our Strips are hypoallergenic, latex-free, and gluten-free. 

If you’re nervous about the sensation of overnight mouth taping, our gentle, gel-like adhesive has got you covered. Moreover, our Strips feature a patented central breathing vent that will ease your nerves with a provided backup mouth breathing option. 

Take in a breath of fresh air with SomniFix – you’ll thank yourself in the morning!

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