Most adults have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives. Approximately one half of our population are affected by some type of insomnia.
- Definition of Insomnia
- Types of Insomnia
- Causes of Insomnia
- Insomnia Symptoms
- Diagnosis of Insomnia
- Treatment of Insomnia
- Alleviate Insomnia
Definition of Insomnia
Insomnia is a common condition in which you have trouble falling or staying asleep. This condition can range from mild to severe depending on how often it occurs and for how long.
Some people who have insomnia may have trouble falling asleep. Other people may fall asleep easily but wake up too soon while others may have trouble both falling asleep and staying asleep.
As a result, insomnia may cause you to get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. You may not feel refreshed when you wake up.
Insomnia is not defined by a certain number of hours of sleep since individuals vary widely in their sleep needs. Most of us know what insomnia is and how we feel and perform after one or more sleepless nights, very few people seek medical advice. Many people remain unaware of the behavioral and medical options available to treat insomnia.
Insomnia affects all age groups. Among adults, insomnia affects women more often than men. The incidence tends to increase with age.
Further, It is typically more common in people with lower income levels, those who are chronic alcoholics, and people with mental health problems. Stress most commonly triggers short-term or acute insomnia. There also seems to be an association between depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Types of Insomnia
There is more than one type of insomnia and most people are clueless about the types they have or what the dynamics are. Insomnia is generally classified based on the duration of the problem.
Those with symptoms lasting one week or less are classifed to be transient insomniacs.
Short-term insomnia means that someone has syptoms lasting anywhere from one to three weeks.
Chronic insomnia is classified as someone unable to rest or sleep for a duration longer than three weeks.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by a number of different reasons. For instance some causes are jet lag, a work shift change, loud noises or sounds, room temperatures, exams or tests for work or school, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, being fired from a job or the loss of a pet. On occasion people suffer insomnia when they are going through withdrawls from alcohol or drug-related issues.
Having a disruptive bed partner with loud snoring or periodic leg movements can also effect the ability to get a good night's sleep.
Some people are not aware that two common stimulants associated with poor sleep are caffeine and nicotine. Individuals who suffer from insomnia should consider not only restricting caffeine and nicotine use in the hours prior to bedtime but also limiting their daily intake.
Some people often use alcohol to help induce sleep by calling it a "nightcap." Unfortunately this choice is poor as alcohol is associated with sleep disruption and creates a sense of non-refreshed sleep in the morning.
Insomnia symptoms are diagnosed by doctors and physcians from a variety of signs displayed by the sufferer. Stress may trigger the problem and individuals can sometimes associated bedtime with the inability to sleep.
Oddly enough people who don't sleep well find that they also have problems during the daytime with the inability to concentrate and focus properly. It is also common that these same folks have difficulty with their memory and find they are also uncoordinated doing the most common tasks. It goes without saying that when we are tired and lacking sleep we tend to be irritable and cannot deal with social interactions. Worse, auto accidents have sometimes been associated with sleep-deprived drivers due to severe fatigue.
Diagnosis of Insomnia
Patients who are plagued with insomnia could have the possibility of sleep apnea. Should the doctor suspect this to be a cause, an overnight sleep test could be ordered. Sleep studies are frequently done in specialized labs by physicians specializing in sleep medicine. Further adding to the cause of insomnia is recent weight gain, Of course, snoring can also be attributed as well to insomnia.
Sleep history can be helpful in evaluating a patient with insomnia. Sleep schedules include one's bedroom and sleep habits, timing and quality of sleep, daytime symptoms, and duration of insomnia. This information can provide useful clues in the assessment of a patient with insomnia.
Many patients are asked to keep a daily sleep diary, usually for a period of two weeks. They will write down times when they go to bed, fall asleep, awake from sleep, the length of time being awake in bed, and the time of get up in the morning.
Recording the amounts of daily exercise, alcohol and caffeine intake, and medication is an integral part of the diary. Also included is the patient's personal assessment of their alertness at various times of the day on two consecutive days within the two week period.
Treatment of Insomnia
The main focus of treatment for insomnia should be directed towards finding the cause. Once a cause is identified, it is important to manage and control the underlying problem, as this alone may eliminate the insomnia all together.
Treating the symptoms of insomnia without addressing the main cause is rarely successful. In the majority of cases, chronic insomnia can be cured if the medical or psychiatric causes are evaluated and treated properly.
Generally, treatment of insomnia entails both non-medical and prescription mediactions. Some sleep studies have shown that combining medical and non-medical treatments typically is more successful in treating insomnia than either one alone.
Some medicines are meant for short-term use, while others are meant for longer use. Side effects can occur, so it is wise to discuss this in detail with your doctor prior to using any medication.
Taking some simple steps in one's day-to-day routine can also improve a patient's sleep quality and quantity. Sleeping enough to feel rested is essential and not oversleeping to compensate for the loss of sleep, is very important as well.
Daily exercise is another excellent way to get the body moving and tired, but one needs to remember not to excercise right before bedtime. Having a routine bedtime and also a time for awakening can help with solving insomnia as well. Learn to relax. Self-hypnosis, biofeedback and relaxation breathing are often helpful and these exercises can be found in books at the local library.
Curtail your smoking habits in the evening as nicotine is a stimulant. Another important point is to never go to bed hungry as the focus of sleep is lost on the desire for food. However avoid large meals or excessive fluid intake before bedtime. Watching television, reading or being on the computer in bed are also habits to discontinue. The bed should be used for sleep and sexual activity and nothing else.
Ensure that the room environment is conducive to sleeping. Bedroom temperatures being too warm or too cold can affect one's ability to fall asleep and to stay asleep. A dark room is desirable for a good night's sleep as well. Get rid of the night lights as they can also stimulate your brain.
Resolve your worries before going to bed. Worrying and thinking will not allow anyone to rest and sleep soundly.
Taking a nap during the day can also be a hinderance in getting to sleep. If napping is a daily habit, get rid of it. Should the insomniac not fall asleep 30 minutes after going to bed, it is recommended to get up and go to another room and try some to unwind and relax. Listening to soft music is very soothing and quite helpful to the mind and body.