5 Health Conditions That Steal Your Sleep

Like thieves in the night, physical and mental health conditions can rob you of valuable dreamtime. To solve the problem, you have to get to the root of it, and treat it.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), approximately 35 percent of people who suffer from chronic insomnia have a mother or other family member with a history of sleep problems. UMMC also points out that 10 to 15 percent of chronic insomnia cases are caused by alcohol or drug abuse.  In addition to these circumstances, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, a host of medical and psychological conditions can rob you of many much-needed hours of sleep.

Psychological conditions. Anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder can all cause insomnia. Since chronic insomnia can also cause or worsen emotional problems, you may be confused about which came first. It is also possible that insomnia and psychological problems stem from the same source. If you suffer from any type of emotional disorder, speak to your doctor about professional counseling.

Gastrointestinal conditions. Acid reflux may affect you while you sleep because symptoms are often worse while you are lying down. You may be able to avoid this simply by making sure you eat your last meal or snack several hours before you go to bed. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, a chronic condition commonly known as GERD, you may be able to control the symptoms that keep you up at night by changing your diet,  losing weight, or raising the head of your bed four to six inches. Your doctor can help you decide if medication is also necessary.

Respiratory conditions. Not only can conditions such as allergies, asthma, emphysema, and the common cold keep you up at night because they interfere with breathing, but often the medications used to control the symptoms of these disorders can also sleep problems. If you have a chronic respiratory condition, you should be under the care of a physician

Rheumatoid conditions. The chronic pain of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other muscular-skeletal conditions can make it difficult to fall asleep and is likely to wake you up at times during the night. The only way to take back control of your sleep is to take control of the pain with prescription or over the counter pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, or other treatments and remedies recommended by your doctor.

Neurological conditions. When Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, or stroke occur, brain cells and neurotransmitters that play a role in maintaining normal sleep-wake cycle patterns can be affected. Medications used during rehabilitation, especially hypnotics, also affect quality of sleep.

Most people have lost at least a few hours sleep over a stomachache, sinus headache, coughing fit, or pressing problem that hasn't been resolved. If you are a woman approaching menopause, your sleep may be disrupted by hot flashes, night sweats, and other problems associated with hormonal changes. Any chronic condition can cause sleep problems and many drugs used to treat chronic medical conditions can also prevent you from getting a good night's sleep. If insomnia or sleep disruption lasts three or more weeks, it is considered chronic, and a serious sleep shortage can occur. And that's when you need to seek help.



Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: Pain Management; Web 4 March 2011.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Insomnia; Web. 4 March 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center: Causes of Chronic Insomnia; 23 Jun 2009. Web. 4 Mar 2011