Sleep issues are common in people who have experienced a distressing situation, such as grief, trauma, a difficult relationship or work environment. These are psychological causes of a sleep disorder which are often temporary and can be helped when the person learns strategies to cope better with these experiences. However, in many cases, prolonged sleep issues may actually cause or exacerbate Depression, Anxiety and ADHD.
Alcohol, caffeine, illicit or prescribed medications directly affect our central nervous system which can then alter the body’s natural ‘circadian rhythm’ (or “sleep clock“). Even when these substances feel to have a sleep-inducing effect, this is often due to the substance’s sedative properties, which is different from falling asleep naturally.
Diabetes, neurological disorders, breathing issues, heartburn and restless legs syndrome are examples of chronic conditions which can have a negative effect on sleep. Specialist physicians should be consulted in these cases to make the best possible effort to alleviate the illness. Addressing sleep should, therefore, be seen as a complex interdependent process, which would ideally be addressed concurrently to the illness.
Sleep is quite regularly affected by a number of evolving environmental conditions which have evolved from a fast-paced society. Light pollution, noise pollution, shift-work, unhealthy food all have a role to play in our health and can affect sleep more than is generally understood. Exposure to bright blue light in the evening (or not being exposed to enough sunlight during daylight hours) plays a key role in sleep (see below.)