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What is Keeping Us Up at Night?

Do you have trouble falling asleep?
photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller via photopin cc

Most of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep, at least once in awhile.  According to a recent Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly all of us, 87%, have some difficulty getting the sleep we need at least once a week.  If you consider the effect loss of sleep and sleep deprivation have on our health, this statistic is more than troubling.  More than ever before, we understand how sleep impacts our ability to concentrate, focus, work, learn, drive, and interact with others.  We have more clarity around the long-term consequences of not getting the sleep we need including higher risks of everything from obesity to diabetes to hypertension than even before.

Unfortunately, turning the tide in this silent sleep deprivation epidemic isn’t as easy as educating people about the importance of sleep.  In fact, many people know sleep is important and want to get a good night’s sleep every night but still find themselves tossing and turning too much of the time.  In order to solve the sleep problem, we need to understand why we can’t sleep in the first place.  Here are 4 of the most common sleep stealers that may be keeping you up at night.


1.     Economic Stress

Even good news about the economy doesn’t seem to be enough to ease people’s minds about financial concerns.  A recent Gallup Poll shows that 72% of us think the economy is the biggest problem facing our country.  However, it doesn’t matter if you are worried about the macrocosmic economic future of the country or the microcosm of your own personal economics, worries over money matters top the list of what is keeping us up at night.


2.     Chronic Pain

Many of us are dealing with chronic pain and that is keeping us from getting the sleep we need.  If you suffer from headaches, back pain, joint pain, or other chronic pain, odds are good that you struggle to get the sleep you need on a regular basis.  According to WedMD, a majority, 50-90% of people managing conditions or injuries that cause chronic pain report being unable to sleep.


3.     Mental Health

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns can cause insomnia, resulting in many sleepless nights.   Unfortunately, insomnia, whether it is a symptom of an existing mental health condition or a sleep disorder in its own right can also worsen many mental health conditions.  It is a catch 22 where getting the sleep you need is as important as it is difficult to do.


4.     Medical Conditions

There are a wide range of medical conditions that can result in difficulties sleeping including neurological conditions, breathing problems, cardiovascular diseases, and acute illnesses like cancer.  In addition, many people suffer from sleep disorders that they are unaware of which can significantly impact the amount of sleep they get.  Even changes like menopause and pregnancy, which are not disorders or diseases can result in real challenges with sleep.


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