EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSOMNIA

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It is always you. Yes, you. You are always the one to give account of events that transpired in the dead of the night when everyone else is fast asleep.

 

Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock? There are a number of factors that could be responsible for your sleeplessness. In most situations, the culprit is not farfetched….it is called INSOMNIA.

 

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired no matter how hard one tried. It is more accurate to think of insomnia as a symptom of another problem, which differs from person to person. Insomnia is  often thought of as both a sign and a symptom that can accompany several medical and psychiatric disorders. It can occur at any age, but it is particularly common in the elderly.

 

Lack of sleep can be put into three major classes depending on the length and the cause;

 

Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by changes in the sleep environment, time of sleep, severe depression, or stress.

 

Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month.

 

Chronic insomnia lasts for longer than a month.

 

Insomnia can be caused by something as simple as drinking too much caffeine during the day or a more complex issue like an underlying medical condition, psychological problems or feeling overloaded with responsibilities.

 

Psychological problems that can cause insomnia include depression, anxiety, chronic stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Medications that can cause insomnia are antidepressants; cold and flu medications that contain alcohol; pain relievers that contain caffeine (Midol, Excedrin); diuretics, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone and high blood pressure

 

Medical problems that can cause insomnia are asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, cancer, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis etc.

 

 

TREAMENT/PREVENTION

 

Like any other disorder, insomnia can be treated or cured. It is important to identify or rule out medical and psychological causes before deciding on the treatment for insomnia. However, adaptation of some habit could be of help in the first stage. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep. Try using earplugs to keep-off noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, a sleep mask to block out light.  Avoid naps during the day as this can make it more difficult to sleep at night. Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations such as vigorous exercise before bedtime. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol before bed. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it interferes with the quality of your sleep. Quit smoking or avoid it at night.

 

There are also dietary and herbal supplements like Melatonin and Valerian, marketed for their sleep-promoting effects.

 

Sleep is very important to the human body and deprivation of such an important activity leaves damaging effects. Reduced libido, unnecessary weight gain, forgetfulness and skin problems are few of the problems that can arise due to sleep deprivation.

 

BEHAVOURIAL CHANGES

Insomnia is not a disorder that should be underestimated. Evidence shows that lifestyle and behavioural changes make the largest and most lasting difference when it comes to insomnia. If you’ve tried the insomnia remedies listed above and found no improvements, a doctor or sleep disorder specialist may be able to help.