Sleep difficulty is a very common problem that can be caused by numerous factors:
Anxiety and Stress
Sleep difficulty can arise when someone is experiencing prolonged stress or feelings of anxiety.
Uncomfortable Sleep Environment
The best environment for sleep is quiet, cool, and silent. Some people might sleep better with a little white noise, such as a fan. The room needs to be a comfortable temperature, and the bed needs to be of the right firmness for the individual.
Too Much Activity
Being physically or intellectually stimulated a few hours before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep. Exercising less than three hours before bedtime can disturb sleep, as can reading serious and thought-provoking material.
When a person travels across several time zones, they may experience jet lag. Jet lag disrupts normal sleep patterns, making it difficult to get a restful sleep while traveling.
Those experiencing depression often find it difficult to sleep. They may be so distracted by the things that are bothering them that they cannot “shut off” their minds and fall asleep.
Caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and drugs such as cocaine can seriously impact an individual’s ability to sleep. These substances have stimulating effects that can make it very difficult to relax. Some people may even experience actual nicotine withdrawals a few hours after falling asleep, which may cause restless sleep or wakefulness.
Medical conditions such as arthritis, acid reflux, bladder infection, heart disease, and other chronic pain issues can disturb a person’s ability to sleep.
Taking naps during the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. This can become a cycle when a person doesn’t get enough sleep during the night, takes a nap, and then has another sleepless night due to the naps.
Disruptions in Sleep Cycle: Staying up much later than usual and then sleeping in the next day can throw an individual’s sleep cycle out of balance, making it more difficult to fall asleep at a normal hour.
Many people think that alcohol helps them sleep. While alcohol often makes a person “pass out,” it ultimately disrupts the sleep cycle, robbing an individual of a restful full-night’s sleep. If a person decides to discontinue drinking after long-term regular consumption, this can also cause sleep problems as the body goes through the anxiety of withdrawals.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a disorder characterized by sensations in the legs that cause an individual discomfort unless the legs are moved. While these sensations can occur throughout the day, they are most likely to happen shortly after going to bed. Usually the individual with restless leg syndrome feels the urge to move the legs around in their sleep, but these sensations can also become so strong that the sufferer must get up and walk around.
As people age, they often experience sleep difficulties. This could be for number of reasons including hormonal changes that can effect circadian rhythm, increased sensitivity to physical discomfort, and the fact that the elderly tend to suffer from chronic pain conditions more often.
Because there are so many different possible reasons for sleep difficulty, it is important to see a doctor to help determine which one pertains to each individual’s situation if the problems persist to the point of seriously affecting quality of life. Long-term, chronic sleep difficulty can also be a sign of a much more serious problem which may need treatment as well.