6 Health Issues That Can Lead To Insomnia
You probably don't need to hear this, but poor sleep is bad for both mental and physical health. The consequences of even a few nights' sleep deprivation add up quickly, and there are many ways in which rest can be disrupted, whether it's because of chronic insomnia or waking up still exhausted. Sleep quality is tied to many factors, including stress, mood and environmental elements, like light and noise. However, there are certain health issues that can lead to insomnia or otherwise mess with your sleep. If you've been experiencing sleep problems for a while, it may be time to have your broader health checked out.
Illnesses can influence sleep in a number of ways, including the symptoms of the condition itself and the medication that's used to control it. This is why it's really important to double-check all your medications and chat with your GP if you've noticed that poor sleep seems to happen when you take particular drugs. Even conditions that seem completely disconnected from sleep can have interesting and damaging effects on your sleep patterns, and may provide a signal that all is not entirely well with your physical health. From chronic conditions to passing viruses, these are a few conditions that can seriously disrupt your sleep.
Asthma, and its dreaded sisters, allergies and eczema, can have a negative effect on your sleep, for two reasons. One is that having asthma means you're at higher risk of bronchial irritation, and you may need to wake at night to cough or because your airways feel swollen and restricted.
The other reason is down to asthma medication itself. Antihistamines, which are normally used to fight the histamine reactions of the immune system, induce drowsiness when used, which can disturb your natural day-to-night circadian rhythms and make it hard to sleep.
2. Blood Pressure Issues
Having high blood pressure can lead to heart disease or stroke if left untreated, but one surprising effect of treating high blood pressure is lack of sleep. Beta blockers, the primary medication used to treat high blood pressure, block the production of melatonin, meaning insomnia, waking up suddenly, or having nightmares can be common in people who take them.
3. Chronic Pain
The National Sleep Foundation highlights several aspects of chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia that can contribute to poor sleep. One is the pain itself, while another is the stress connected to the daily experience of managing a pain disorder. Only 45 percent of people with acute pain and 37 percent of those with chronic pain reported good-quality sleep in a National Sleep Foundation survey. Medication is another factor, as some drugs for chronic pain can cause drowsiness during the day and disrupt sleep schedules.
4. Thyroid Issues
Both an overactive and underactive thyroid are connected with poor sleep quality. Overactive thyroids, known as hyperthyroidism, can cause insomnia and difficulty in getting restful sleep, as the body overproduces thyroid hormone and speeds up all aspects of its functioning. Underactive thyroids, known as hypothyroidism, can affect sleep too; under-producing thyroid hormone slows the metabolism, increases fatigue, and raises the risk of sleep apnea.
5. Acid Reflux
The National Sleep Foundation notes that between 5 and 8 percent of the world's population are believed to have gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD or acid reflux. People with this condition feel acid from their stomach leaking backward into their esophagus, causing a burning sensation, and it's linked to a higher tendency for insomnia and disturbed sleep, as it's more likely to happen when you're lying down.
Depression is just one of many mental health issues that can impact your sleep. One of the primary symptoms of depression is insomnia, undersleeping, or oversleeping, in addition to fatigue, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Having your sleep schedule messed up on top of managing other health issues is never fun, but getting to the bottom of both of these issues is key to staying on top of your overall health.