Symptoms of insomnia affect most of us at some point in our lives. If you have trouble falling asleep, or sleep fitfully rather than soundly, you’re not alone—at least 50 to 70 million American adults have experienced some form of sleep disorder. Healthy brain function, emotional well-being, physical health and daytime performance depend on healthy sleep to stay in balance, and 6-8 hours of solid shut-eye is what experts say you should be getting every night.

If not, then chances are high that your lack of sleep has impacted your daily life at some point. Maybe you’ve been too tired to attend an event you were looking forward to, or perhaps your mood has been uncharacteristically edgy or impatient. You may have realized you were not paying attention when someone was speaking to you, or even caught yourself dozing off in the middle of an activity. Difficult, poor-quality or insufficient sleep can cause an array of problems for daytime functioning and performance. But that’s just the beginning.

5 signs of insomnia

There are a few basic symptoms of insomnia:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep, or waking often throughout the night
  • Waking very early in the morning
  • Troubles with focus, attention, memory
  • Waking up feeling tired and fatigued

Occasionally experiencing one or more of these symptoms is normal. But if your symptoms of insomnia happen frequently and consistently, it’s a good time to talk to a medical professional to identify the underlying cause or causes and establish a plan to address your sleeping problems so you can start catching the zzz’s that you need to be at peak performance and health.

Why. Can’t. I. Sleep?

Sleep problems like insomnia are sometimes caused by health conditions like chronic pain, acid reflux, allergies and depression. In some cases, the medical condition itself is the cause, while in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult to sleep. In addition to outside forces that encroach upon our precious sleep, there are a few sleep inhibitors that are self-inflicted, like drinking alcohol (especially if it is consumed too close to bedtime), overeating in the evening and using stimulants such as coffee or cigarettes. Declining estrogen can prompt disturbances — including hot flashes — in the middle of the night, too, and research indicates that about a quarter of menopausal women have sleep problems severe enough to impact their ability to function during the day. Your sleep problems could also be triggered by a small gland called the thyroid. It’s responsible for regulating an important hormone that keeps your body warm and helps your organs function properly, and if it isn’t working correctly it can cause a lot of problems, including getting in the way of your sleep.

The hormone connection.

Adequate sleep helps your body maintain a healthy balance of important hormones — while disrupting that balance can negatively impact your mood, attention span and libido, as well as your ability to fight off infection. A lack of sleep can result in higher blood sugar levels and increase your risk for diabetes. And a stressed body can cause your brain to suppress sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone in favor of stress hormones like cortisol, which can lead to decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

If those aren’t good enough reasons to address your insomnia, consider this: people who sleep less are more likely to be overweight or obese. That’s right. A 2018 study conducted by Nokia found that Body Mass Index (BMI) levels are influenced by sleep duration: an astounding 66.5% of users who slept an average of less than seven hours a night were overweight. This is perhaps due in part to the science behind hunger: if you don’t sleep enough, your body strains to produce the hormone leptin, which helps you feel full. Sleep deprivation also leads to an increase in the production of the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin. The same study also showed a link between sleep and weight loss. Overweight people who slept at least an average of seven hours were more successful in losing weight. In fact, they achieved 25% more weight loss than their overweight peers sleeping less than five hours.

The good news: insomnia is treatable.

Weight, memory, sex drive, immunity…sleep deprivation can negatively impact them all. The good news is: insomnia is treatable. The strategies used by Dr. Mitchell for treating insomnia are just as varied as the causes themselves, but the right treatment can return you to a routine of blissful, healthy sleep. Pensacola Wellness will work with you to identify exactly what is causing your sleep difficulties and then set up a treatment plan based on your unique needs, which could include hormone therapy, medical cannabis or a wide range of therapies including medication and non-drug treatments. Bottom line: untreated, your sleep disorders can continue to your daytime mood, functioning and performance and put you at greater risk for serious and chronic health problems, while treatment can relieve your symptoms and return you to a routine of healthy sleep. Why not take the first step today to start getting a little bit of extra shut-eye and beating insomnia for good?


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