Be On the Lookout for Causes of Sleep Loss
Sleep loss includes sleeping less than 6 hours, intermittently waking up a while before falling asleep again, and not able to sleep at least the recommended 7 to 8 hours. Regrettably, being unable to sleep 8 hours has many negative effects on your body. Therefore, it’s important to become familiar with the causes of sleep loss. Because knowing these, may help you take action to avoid them and get your recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
First of all, one of the causes of sleep loss is personal behavior or decisions that have direct effect on sleep. Incidentally, all of these decisions or choices are under your control.
- Consistently going to bed late
- Consistently waking up too early
- Pursuing activities close to bed time. Examples of these activities include:
- Socializing late into the night
- Chilling out late into the night
- Watching television
- Using laptops, tablets, music devices, video games, and cell phones. Most of all, a 2011 Sleep in America poll reported that among adults aged 19-29, 67% used cell phones, 43% used music devices, 60% used computers, and 18% played video games prior to bed. Furthermore, 51% of these young adults reported rarely getting a good night’s sleep. In addition, 57% of young adult leave their phones on during sleep, with only 33% turning their phones to silent or vibrate modes. Regrettably, playing video games before bed increases the time to sleep by an average of 21.6 minutes.
- Reading a book
- Delaying working on educational goals until late in the evening
- Delaying school assignments until late in the evening
- Engaging in activities to make money late into the night
- Getting physical exercise just prior to bedtime
Incidentally, your job is one of the other causes of sleep loss. Regrettably, the choices related to your work are not entirely under your control. Of course, if losing sleep becomes a serious health issue, you may want to think about getting a different job.
- Shift work – People who do shift work disrupt their sleep-wake cycles on a regular basis. For example, frequent travelers and airline crews tend to have erratic sleeping patterns.
- Demanding jobs
- Jobs that have unreasonable overtime
- Loss of a job
- Changes in a job
In addition, sleeping disorders are another causes of sleep loss. Moreover, these may nor may not be under your control. For example, if your partner’s snoring prevents you from falling asleep, your partner may be amenable to taking remedial steps that minimize the snoring.
- Frequently waking up in the night
Next, the sleeping environment may be responsible for one or more causes of sleep loss. Ultimately, the sleeping environment or the bedroom has an important effect on your ability to get sound sleep. In fact, there are things that can be done to make your bedroom sleep friendly.
- Bedroom too hot or cold
- Bedroom not dark enough
- Mattress not conducive to sleeping
- Pillow not conducive to sleeping
- Blue light emitting devices in the bedroom
- Noisy neighbors
Furthermore, sleep hygiene may be responsible for several causes of sleep loss. And, there are things you can do to eliminate some of these causes.
- Drinking coffee, alcohol, or smoking cigarettes close to bedtime stimulates the nervous system making sleep less like likely. The effects of caffeine, equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of coffee, can lasts 5.5 to 7.5 hours, which means consuming coffee in the afternoon could create problems falling asleep. Regrettably, caffeine increases vigilance alertness, and decreases sleepiness.
- Energy drinks contain caffeine with the amount of caffeine varying from 45 to 500 mg.
- Ingesting stimulants increase sleep latency and suppress REM sleep.
- Lying in bed and worrying, rather than relaxing
Also, your family may be responsible for one or more causes of sleep loss. On the other hand, you may not be able to do much about these causes. Incidentally, in some cases the sleep loss is due to stress.
- Family responsibilities eat into your sleeping hours.
- Taking care of babies, toddlers, and young children who wake up in the night for feeding or comfort.
- Death of a loved one
Next, neurotransmitter imbalances may be causes of sleep loss. Moreover, you likely need to get medical advice to resolving these causes.
- Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and glutamate, either stimulate us or calm us. Serotonin and GABA are calming neurotransmitters. Dopamine, glutamate and adrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) are stimulating neurotransmitters
- If you have too much of the stimulating neurotransmitters, at night, it could wake you from your sleep with thoughts of what you need to get done. Or you may get nightmares. On the other hand if you have too little of the calming neurotransmitters, you may feel restless or jittery.
- Serotonin is a calming neurotransmitter and if your levels are too low, you won’t feel calm during the night.
- Glutamate is the most stimulatory neurotransmitter. And if’s levels are too high, your mind will be racing while it’s time to sleep. In addition to high glutamate levels, if cortisol levels at night are also too high instead of being low, you won’t be able to sleep
Also, medications are potential causes of sleep loss. And, the best way to resolve these is through your health care provider.
- Some medications used for treating epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affect sleep.
- Some medications taken for the common cold, nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression affect sleep.
- Many medicines interfere with sleep. Examples include antihistamines cough medicines, anticonvulsants, asthma medications.
Lastly, some medical conditions are causes of sleep loss. And the best way to resolve them, is again, through your health care provider.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Most of all, with sleep apnea, a person’s airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing and a drop in oxygen levels. As a consequence, a person wakes up briefly but repeatedly throughout the night.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Above all, restless legs syndrome is a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs. Regrettably, this can disturb the person’s sleep many times during the night. In fact, anyone with restless legs syndrome typically experience worse symptoms in the transition from wake to sleep. As a result, falling asleep and staying asleep is difficult.
First and foremost, estrogen is a sleep-maintaining hormone. However, estrogen balance is upset during perimenopause and menopause. As a result, the ability to get a full night’s sleep is affected. Also, low testosterone levels make it difficult to achieve deep sleep. Moreover, both low and high levels of thyroid hormones result in a variety of sleep disturbances. Finally, an imbalance in cortisol can cause fatigue, lethargy, anxiety or inability to sleep.
Other Medical Conditions
- Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) causes overwhelming fatigue. As a result it causes an excess of oversleeping because the body is almost constantly fatigued.
- Nasal or sinus allergies
- Colds, influenza, and tonsillitis can cause changes to breathing while sleeping, causing you to wake up frequently during the night
- Gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux
- Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
- Chronic stress
- Chronic pain
- Low back pain
- Gagging. A gag reflex is a contraction of the muscles of the throat caused by stimulation of the pharynx
- Aging. Regrettably, half of adults over 65 have some sort of sleep disorder. Moreover, it’s not clear if this is due to the medicines or a normal part of aging.
- Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder of sleep regulation that affects control of sleep and wakefulness. In fact, researchers have found a genetic basis for narcolepsy.
- Women that are pregnant, have PMS, undergoing menopause, or perimenopause are subjected to fluctuations in hormone levels that disrupt their sleep cycle.
- Men with benign prostatic hypertrophy have to make several trips to the bathroom at night
In conclusion, while some of the causes of sleep loss are under your control, others require help from your health care provider.