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We all suffer from sleep problems from time to time, and we’re often left wondering what caused it. Why can’t I go to sleep or why do I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep? Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to these questions, but a recent study conducted by sleep experts at the University of Pennsylvania sheds some useful light on the subject. Michael Perlis, director of the University’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program explains that the underlying causes of insomnia are multiple and may be a mix of biological, medical and psychological issues.


Perlis points out that insomnia actually falls into three general categories based on the times when you have trouble sleeping, and for each there are triggers that make sleep difficult.

Difficulty falling asleep – Perlis says that anxiety or stressful life events can make falling asleep difficult. Environment factors like too much light in the room or late night exposure to the blue light from the screens of our electronic devises can also interfere with our sleep.

Middle insomnia – This form of insomnia wakes you up a few hours after you’ve fallen asleep, and two common medical conditions are to blame. One is GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) which wakes you because stomach acids are burning your esophagus. The other is sleep apnea which interrupts sleep because you’ve stopped breathing. Perlis warns that if you can remember waking up several times at night, even for brief periods, you could be suffering from sleep apnea and should see your doctor.

Late insomnia – This form is triggered by depression and wakes you so late that you’re forced to rise early for the day.

Beyond these, at least two other things can interfere with our normal sleep patterns, age and alcohol.

As we age our sleep efficiency decreases, and lighter sleep leads to more awakenings. And this situation can be made worse by certain medications like beta blockers and heart medications.

As to alcohol, it seems to have a paradoxical effect on our sleep. When consumed, alcohol briefly induces a deep, restorative form of sleep. But unfortunately, our bodies break down and metabolize alcohol very quickly, and after that, sleep becomes fitful.

While insomnia may not be cured with a new mattress, traditional sleep problems can often be at least mitigated through a better mattress. Visit Mattress Direct today for more information!

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