An Overview: Of insomnia
Sleeplessness or as it is commonly known by the medical term “Insomnia” is a condition where the person is either unable to fall asleep or has difficulty in staying asleep throughout the night. It is the most common sleep complaint. Insomnia affects the person both physically and mentally. It emerges in the form of day symptoms like physical weakness, grogginess, extremely volatile and unpredictable nature. Lack of sleep affects the brain in a deadly way. If we wake up tired, it sets the mood for the entire day to be cranky or groggy. It effects brain function and dials down to impaired memory performance, disorientation, low job performance, unhealthy relationships, unusual loss or gain of weight, diminished efficiency and stress. If you have ever felt discomfort in falling asleep or staying asleep you should get help, if self-help does not do the work, consult a doctor.
Types: of insomnia
There are two types of insomnia, Short term insomnia (secondary) and chronic insomnia (primary). Insomnia can be a passing phase or it can be a serious health hazard. It depends on how long and how frequently it lasts. It also depends on what is the trigger for insomnia.
Short Term Insomnia – It occurs in among 15-20 percent of people. This type of insomnia can last up to four or five months. It is caused by triggers other than health conditions. Major causes can include mid-life crisis, quarter life crisis, significant stress, work pressure, external temperature varying from too hot to too cold, side effects of medicine, emotional trouble or physical trouble, change in schedule, change in lifestyle, etc.
Chronic Insomnia – It is a more significant form of insomnia where the person cannot sleep for more than three times a week and lasting for more than three to five months. It is triggered by trauma, sudden loss of dear ones, accidents, war zone victims, chronic stress, pain and discomfort.
The clear indication of sleeplessness is the difficulty in falling asleep as well as the difficulty in staying asleep through the night. If you wake up in the middle of the night often without a reason, you are suffering from insomnia. If you are waking up way too early in the morning, if you feel restless even after a good night’s sleep, if you feel drowsy and exhausted, it indicates insomnia.
Daytime tiredness, feeling physically and mentally exhausted, acute irritability, agitation, frequently losing temper, difficulty in paying attention, increased error at work and loss of focus are also symptoms of insomnia.
There are many causes for insomnia, they can be fit into psychological causes, medical causes, medication and other sleep disorders.
Anxiety is a common cause for chronic insomnia, having anxiety can accentuate the condition of insomnia. Other psychological causes can be anger, bi-polar disorders, trauma and grief.
Parkinson’s disease, acid reflux, cancer, allergies, asthma and other medical conditions can also be the cause for insomnia.
If a person suffers from sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disturbances or any such sleep disorders, it can cause insomnia.
Drinking too much coffee, having an irregular sleep cycle, napping late in the day, eating too close to bed time, having food rich in sugar and carbs can accelerate the condition.
Over thinking or over simulation of the brain, checking the phone too much can factor in to the condition.
Age is a major concern when it comes to the reasons why you become insomniac. As you get older, your sleeping patterns change, any slight change in temperature, feeble or loud noises, and any minor disturbance can wake you up. With age the internal clock advances and you sleep early and wake up early, but the amount of sleep you need is the same as the amount of sleep a young person needs to sustain and remain active in a day. You become less active and aren’t exhausted easily, therefore making it difficult for you to fall asleep peacefully. With age comes major health issues which can add to an already present or nascent stage insomnia. A bad back or a bad prostate, the urgency to pee every hour and anxiety adds to the problem. There may be a few medications that can also induce the symptoms of insomnia.
The risk factors per demographic can be listed as below,
If you are a woman, hormonal shifts during menstrual cycle and menopause can cause insomnia. It is a common occurrence during pregnancy.
If you are old, sleep patterns and health issues can cause insomnia.
If you have a mental disorder or a physical health disorder it can accentuate the symptoms.
If you are under a lot of stress or work pressure then the chances of insomnia are high.
If your job demands frequent travel and irregular sleep schedules you can be at risk of insomnia.
If you shuttle between time zones then there is a hundred percent chance of you being an insomniac.
Remedy and Treatment
Basic change in lifestyle can help in curing insomnia, these are the things that you can try:
Do not have a TV or a computer in the bedroom, this ensures that you are not looking at a screen before falling asleep.
Leave your phone away at a desk before going to bed, instead read a book. Put on some soothing music or indulge in an activity that requires minimal brain effort. Try knitting for example.
Avoid stressful activity before falling asleep. In that, avoid working late into the night or having arguments with spouses or family. Instead spend some time with the pets, children or your parents.
Keep away from clocks, if you have a clock in view you stress more every passing minute as to why are you not falling asleep.
If you can’t sleep get out of the bed, move a little, take a stroll, do something that exhausts you physically.
Try yoga or meditation, harness the relaxation response in your body. It can relieve your min of the stress and the tension.
Don’t eat too much or drink too much before sleeping. Avoid big meals for dinner. Avoid desserts after dinner.
Get enough exercise, get anger management classes. Stress management plays an important role.
If none of these work, consult a doctor. You can get help. Insomnia is a medical condition and there is no shame in treating it.