Insomnia is a lack of sleep or difficulty in staying asleep. Everybody has once in a while suffered from insomnia. It can be a short term or long term (chronic) condition.
Short term insomnia is mostly caused by stressful events like worked related problems and may last for days or weeks. Long term insomnia also called chronic insomnia is caused by a psychiatric or medical problem like diabetes or pregnancy.
People suffering from insomnia may feel sleepy during the day, suffer from anxiety, be less alert and have difficulty learning. This is according to the National Institute of Health (NHI).
One can suffer from either secondary or primary insomnia where secondary insomnia is a side effect or symptom of medical or neurological disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, these are the causes of secondary insomnia:
- Anxiety from sleep loss due to work, school or family related problems
- Chronic headache disorders
- Depression from tragic events like the death of a loved one
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Some medications like cold and asthma medications
- Sleep disorders e.g restless leg syndrome
Other substances that can cause insomnia are tobacco, alcohol, and cocaine. It has also been seen that exposure to light during the night can cause the said condition. This light may be from smartphone or computer screens. Change in health, sleeping pattern and activity can also lead to this sleep disorder.
There are cases in which insomnia is not the trigger of another problem. In this case what one experiences from is primary insomnia. NIH says that causes of primary insomnia are not properly known, however, long-lasting stress, travel, and changes in one’s life may cause primary insomnia.
People with insomnia mostly suffer from the same symptoms. These are the symptoms that will guide you on knowing whether you have it.
- Trouble falling asleep.
- Unable to stay asleep.
- Sleeping for a short time and waking up early.
- Sleepiness during the day.
- Lack or reduced concentration ability.
- Feeling like you are not well rested.
- Depression, irritability, and tiredness.
- Errors and accidents.
The Mayo Clinic says that if one is having trouble functioning during the day due to insomnia, it is advisable to talk to your doctor in order to be given professional advice.
Insomnia is a very common condition of which 30% of adults suffer from as seen in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 10% of people, as a result of insomnia, suffer from distress and impairment while having no other disorder that could cause sleeping difficulties.
Adults are mostly affected than young people, this is according to NIH. As one age, there is a higher risk of suffering from insomnia. This can be due to change in health, sleep, and activity as one age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women than men are more likely to suffer from insomnia. This is due to hormonal changes during menopause and the menstrual cycle.
Black Americans (young and middle-aged) than Caucasian Americans are at a higher risk of suffering from insomnia. This is because they are light sleepers and nap a lot.
If not well rested, your mental and physical health is at risk. Suffering from insomnia can lead to complications in one’s life. These are;
- Being at the risk of a long-term condition or diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Increased errors and accidents e.g while driving.
- Mental health disorder like anxiety and depression.
- Poor or low performance in either at school or work.
- If one is suffering from chronic insomnia, this can lead to substance dependence which may have negative effects on their body.
Insomnia can be treated in various ways. These can either be through medication or therapy. Sometimes treating conditions causing insomnia like diabetes can help reduce it.
Also if the cause of the condition is medication, reduction or changing the medication may help.
For people suffering from short term insomnia, lifestyle changes may help improve their sleep. These changes include;
- Going to sleep and waking up every day at the same time
- Avoiding bright lights before sleeping
- Avoiding heavy meals and exercise
- Not using caffeine and other stimulants like alcohol before bedtime
Chronic insomnia sufferers can be treated using cognitive-behavior therapy which helps to reduce anxiety caused by insomnia such as sleep loss. One is able to know and change what you believe that may be affecting your sleep and therefore be able to take action. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center director of sleep disorders program, Dr. Ulysses Magalang and the Mayo Clinic said that the use of cogitative-behavior therapy is more effective than the use of medications.
Other ways one can treat insomnia is through:
a) Sleep medications: Drugs like eszopiclone, temazepam, zaleplon, triazolam among others can be used to induce sleep. However, it is cautioned that the use of these drugs for a long period may lead to one being addicted to them and they can also be dangerous if taken with alcohol. One can also use over-the-counter sleep aids.
b) Mind/ body medicine: These include yoga, meditation, and biofeedback. There are so many techniques that one can practice to help them with sleep.
c) Relaxation: Habits like breathing exercise can help one go to sleep faster and more relaxed allowing one to sleep better.
d) Good sleeping habits: A quiet and dark bedroom is a better place for a good sleep.
e) Sleep restriction: This helps reduce the time you spend sleeping like daytime naps that causes you to luck sleep during the night.
Prevention and Conclusion
Insomnia is a condition that can occur at different people of any age. Proper lifestyle habits can help concur and prevent insomnia. These may be by following doctors instructions to not over taking medication and using the right ones. Others are avoiding exposure to light, taking proper meals before bedtime, practicing better sleeping positions, relaxing after a long day of work or travel, among others. It is also good to note that treating conditions causing insomnia can help prevent it.
It is therefore advisable to look at these symptoms regularly to avoid it if you think you are suffering from insomnia. This will help one seek help early and tame the condition from an early stage. Parents should regularly monitor their children sleeping patterns and behavior and take action if the child is suffering from the said disease. Improve their sleep better by limiting their use of smartphones or laptops before sleeping, overplaying and overeating during the night, not taking long naps during the day.