Insomnia can cause anxiety and anxiety can cause insomnia. For some people, problems sleeping can either cause or increase symptoms of anxiety. For others, the constant worrying can keep them up at night, creating both increased anxiety and other health problems. It can become a vicious cycle.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder. People with insomnia may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or may wake up too early each morning. People with insomnia often sleep poorly, even after falling asleep. According to DukeHealth.org, up to 30% of all adults in the United States have symptoms of insomnia at some time and 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. Insomnia can often be one of the first symptoms of anxiety.
When insomnia occurs because of a specific situation or stressor it is considered to be short-term or transient insomnia. Traumatic events, illness, injury or major life events can cause a short period of temporary sleep problems. Some people also may experience sleep problems during the change of season, when going through a difficulties at work or school or while traveling.
Normally, short-term insomnia does not require any medical treatment. Normal sleep patterns usually return once the event or situation has been resolved. However, if the insomnia lasts more than a few weeks or interferes with a person's ability to complete daily activities, treatment may be needed.
You are considered to have chronic insomnia if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, wake too early or have a poor quality of sleep most nights for one month or more. There is some research to indicate that insomnia may be hereditary with 35% of people with chronic insomnia having a family history of trouble sleeping.
Anxiety and stress can be causes of chronic insomnia. There are, however, many other possible causes:
- Low levels of melatonin
- High levels of stress or growth hormones
- Problems with the immune system
- Emotional disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder
- Physical illness or other health problems
- Restless leg syndrome
- Use of alcohol or substance abuse
When insomnia is caused by one of these reasons, it is considered to be secondary or comorbid insomnia.
Chronic primary insomnia is when there are no other health conditions causing the problems sleeping.
Treatment of Insomnia
There are various medications that can be used to treat insomnia. These medications cannot cure insomnia nor provide long-term relief. Many of these medications can be addictive if used over extended periods of time. Medications can, however, provide temporary relief.
Behavioral programs are also available to help people learn to relax and improve the ability to fall asleep and improve the overall quality of sleep. Behavioral methods have been found to be effective in almost all people and for many, have cured insomnia. Behavioral techniques can include: