Insomnia: A Nightcap is Not the Best Answer

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of causes of insomnia: Do you ever find yourself up late tossing and turning having difficulty falling asleep? Do you fall asleep just fine but find yourself waking up much earlier than you expected? Are you tired during the day but unable to get that much needed rest when you tuck yourself in for the night? You may suffer from a common medical complaint: insomnia.

  • Mental health related issues, such as stress, anxiety and depression: Your state of mind can have a lasting effects on your sleep habits. You may find it hard to sleep at night because you are thinking over the many stresses of the day. You may have a difficult time relaxing and falling asleep.
  • Medical and physical issues: Your insomnia may be induced by medical issues such as chronic pain or digestion problems. It can be hard to fall asleep and stay asleep if you don’t feel well.
  • Changes in your home or work environment or poor sleep habits: A change in your schedule during the day, may lead to changes in your sleep schedule.
  • Substance related issues: Certain substances, such as drugs and alcohol, can also disrupt your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Insomnia issues related to substance use and abuse can be the toughest to deal with, but can induce some of the best results when properly dealt with.
Some substances that can affect your sleep habits are:

  • Caffeine: Products such as cola, coffee, tea, and chocolate are often used as pick-me-ups during the day, but can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Try to monitor your intake of products that contain caffeine. If you find that you are consuming large amounts throughout the day or close to bedtime, consider cutting down or cutting out caffeine altogether.
  • Nicotine: While smokers often claim that cigarettes keep them from being stressed out, nicotine is a stimulant, and it can add to your insomnia. Smoking is bad for your health, and preventing insomnia is just one of many good reasons to put your cigarettes out for good!
  • Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant, so it might seem like a natural choice to turn to when you feel like you can’t sleep. Unfortunately, it can interfere with you getting a good night’s rest, and you may find yourself waking up when you don’t want to when you’ve had a nightcap to help settle you down.
  • Other drugs: Many other drugs, prescription or otherwise, can interfere with healthy sleep patterns.

Chronic insomnia can feel unbearable, and turning to drugs and alcohol to ease this condition may become an unhealthy habit. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, it’s helpful to reassess the substances you are taking to deal with the issue. While withdrawal can be hard, you may find refraining from drinking alcohol and caffeine or using other substances, is an adequate first line of treatment in your fight against insomnia.

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