Why Can't I Get To Sleep? 7 Serious Health Problems That Could Be Causing Your Insomnia
There are plenty of innocent reasons why you might be struggling to sleep at night. Sometimes, it's too hot or too cold. Other times, you're thirsty or too full (just me?). Alternatively, you're worried about a presentation at work or something silly you said last week, and your brain just won't switch off. That's completely normal. But you shouldn't be wondering "why can't I get to sleep?" on a regular basis. If you are, your body may be trying to tell you something. Can insomnia be serious? Actually, yes it can.
If you find yourself tossing and turning for hours and hours, for nights on end, it may be time to consider that there is something more serious going on. It could be something physical, mental, or even hormonal. But there are warning signs that your insomnia could be a bigger problem than you may have first thought. Please don't panic though. For every problem, there's a solution. Actually, there can often be several solutions (trust me, I put together the list below).
People can often feel embarrassed or anxious about reaching out for help, worrying they're wasting a doctor's time. But that's honestly not true. A good night's sleep is the bedrock for normal functionality. Essentially, without my eight hours, I'm a total mess, and that's true for lots of people. So if you're not sleeping well repeatedly, don't ignore the problem and hope it will disappear by itself. Seek advice, starting with your GP. But first, here are some things that might be causing you problems.
1. Overactive Thyroid
Women are 10 times more likely to suffer with thyroid problems than men, according to the NHS, and these issues usually flare up between the ages of 20 and 40-years-old. An overactive thyroid is problematic because this means too much of the thyroid hormones are being produced, which affects your heart rate and body temperature. Unsurprisingly, one of the resulting symptoms is difficulty sleeping, along with irritability, anxiety, and feeling tired all the time. Fortunately, overactive thyroids are treatable so make sure you book that GP appointment.
When you have a mental health condition like depression, you may struggle to get to sleep. According to The Sleep Foundation, "the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major depressive disorders." If you have any other symptoms of depression, like inertia, futility, loss of appetite, and long-lasting sadness, please tell you doctor and mention you're having trouble sleeping too.
3. Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is actually pretty common. In case you haven't heard of it, it's a condition that affects the nervous system and causes an overwhelming need to twitch or jerk your legs — even when you're fast asleep. In fact, 80 percent of sufferers encounter periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS), with the urge in some cases occurring every 10 seconds, according to the NHS. The sudden leg movements can be enough to wake up sufferers, hence why difficulty sleeping is reported by a lot of people with the condition.
If you fall asleep and wake up again and again throughout the night, your quality of your sleep is low. But what's causing it? Well, it may be that your mind is racing and you're suffering with anxiety. But this can be managed. Consider coping mechanisms such as meditation, or you could try treatments such as therapy.
Professor of psychiatry, Dr. Michael J. Sateia, told Health: "Anxieties also become more exaggerated during the night for people with sleep problems." Either way, sleeping this way for a prolonged period of time isn't good for you.
5. Cardiovascular Issues
This basically means anything that is potentially wrong with your heart or blood vessels could be keeping you up at night. In fact, cardiovascular issues can cause breathing issues, central sleep apnea, and chest pains. Even if you've never been diagnosed with anything, it's worth getting a check-up and mentioning your sleep issues.
Type 2 diabetes can make it very hard to fall asleep, despite how tired you are. It's believed that this is due to the link between the condition and sleep apnea (which causes halted breathing for brief periods during sleep and results in the sufferer waking up suddenly). Dr. Betul Hatipoglu, a physician from the Cleveland Clinic told Everyday Health: "There’s much more interrelation between the two conditions than we thought. In fact, one may actually contribute to causing the other, and vice versa."
7. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
As I mentioned earlier, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition which causes halted breathing while you're trying to get some shut eye, causing sufferers to suddenly wake up. In severe cases, this can happen every one to two minutes. It's important if you think you may be showing signs of sleep apnoea that you get it treated as poorly managed OSA can put you at an increased risk of having a stroke, heart attack, developing high blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat.
It really is a case of better be safe than sorry here. If you're not sleeping regularly, and you're not sure why, get checked out. Lack of sleep can make everything worse, including the original issue, so it's worth sorting out. You'll feel a lot better after — you guessed it — a good night's sleep.