Insomnia: What is it? Why does it happen? How to fix it

A 2018 study by the University of Pennsylvania found 25% of US adults develop insomnia each year1. Poor sleep hygiene, or sleep habits, tend to be the reason for most cases of insomnia.

WHAT
According to the CDC, insomnia is “an inability to initiate or maintain sleep”2. Insomnia is not the same for each person. You may have no problems falling asleep initially, but you wake up randomly during the night and cannot fall back asleep. Your neighbour may struggle falling asleep for hours but may sleep soundly once they are finally able to drift off. Keep track of your patterns, they’re important!

WHY
Just as insomnia can manifest from many patterns, it also has many potential causes. Some medicines may directly impact your sleep while extra stress caused by work, home, school, the loss of a loved one, or general anxiety can also cause those restless nights. Insomnia also tends to show up with those that have physical pains and depression. Sometimes you’re able to notice a recent change in mood, routine, or stress that can be connected to your insomnia, but usually you need a medical evaluation and intervention if your insomnia does not go away.

HOW
Treating any underlying issues should be your first step towards improving your sleep. Physical pain or depression that causes you to wake up or keeps you from sleep needs to be addressed with your doctor. Most cases of insomnia can be fixed by consciously adopting better sleep habits such as don’t hit snooze, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol 2-3 hours before bed, don’t exercise too close to bedtime, kick that nicotine habit, and reduce unhealthy food consumption.