You take your shut-eye for granted, until you find yourself staring at the bedroom ceiling at 2:33 a.m. one predawn too many. And then -- finally -- it hits you: Could this be more than an off night? Could you have a sleep problem?
If you do, getting to the bottom of the problem is important. Not catching enough ZZZs regularly can leave you feeling drained, depressed, anxious, stressed, and generally miserable. And it’s a vicious circle: The more stressed you are about being exhausted, the less...
For some people, insomnia only lasts a few nights and then their sleep gets back on track. This might happen when you have jet lag.
Others have "short-term" insomnia, which lasts less than a month. For instance, an accountant who works extra hours and feels stressed during tax season might have rocky sleep until the April 15 deadline passes.
Chronic insomnia lasts longer than a month. That's the most likely kind to be linked to a health problem, but it could also be due to your sleep habits.
Some of the most common causes of insomnia are simple. Do you:
Keep odd hours?
Nap during the day?
Drink too much coffee or alcohol?
Stay up late because you're working, doing chores, or watching something online?
Worry about something that's going on in your life?
Medications. Over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications -- including some blood pressure medicines, heart drugs, and thyroid hormones -- can interfere with sleep. So can the misuse of sleeping pills.
Jet lag and changing shift-work schedules. These throw off your "body clock." Most people adjust to their new schedule eventually.