Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling or staying asleep. The condition can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long time). Acute insomnia lasts from a night to a few weeks. Insomnia is said to be Chronic when it happens at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more.
Most cases of insomnia are related to poor sleeping habits, depression, anxiety, lack of exercise, chronic illness or certain medication.
Symptoms may include difficulty falling or staying asleep and not feeling well-rested.
Treatment for insomnia consists of improving sleep habits, behaviour therapy and identifying and treating underlying causes. Sleeping pills may also be used, but should be monitored for side effects.
Types of Insomnia
There are two types of insomnia primary and secondary.
- Primary insomnia: This means your sleeping problem is not linked to any other health condition or problem.
- Secondary insomnia: This means you have trouble sleeping because of some other health condition(s) like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, heartburn, pain, medication; or substance use (like alcohol).
What Causes Insomnia?
Causes of primary insomnia include:
- Stress related to big life events, like a job loss or change, the death of a loved one, divorce, or moving
- Things around you like noise, light, or temperature
- Changes to your sleep schedule, a new shift at work, or bad habits you picked up when you had other sleep problems.
Causes of secondary insomnia include:
- Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
- Medications for colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma
- Pain or discomfort at night
- Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol use
- Other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome
Insomnia Risk Factors
Insomnia affects women more than men and older people more than younger ones. Young and middle-age African Americans also have a higher risk.
Other risk factors include:
- Long-term illness
- Mental health issues
- Working night shifts or shifts that rotate
Symptoms of Insomnia
These are signs that you have insomnia
- Sleepiness during the day
- Reduced concentration ability or memory loss
- Waking up earlier than usual
How to Prevent Insomnia
Following these tips has a long way to go in dealing with the challenge of insomnia.
- Wake up at the same time everyday
- Eliminate alcohol and stimulants like nicotine and caffeine
- Limit naps
- Exercise regularly
- Perform most activities out of bed rather than in bed
- Do not go to bed immediately after eating or drinking
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable.
Dealing With Insomnia
Treatment for insomnia consists of improving sleep habits, behavioral therapy and identifying and treating underlying causes. Sleeping pills (such as sedatives and anti-depressants) may also be useful, but should be monitored for side effects.
- Sleep Hygiene: Good sleep practices including having a regular bedtime schedule and avoiding naps, caffeine and watching TV just before bedtime.
- Physiotherapeutic Interventions: Light Therapy with the use of a light box that imitates the sunlight; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that’s focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviours and emotional responses connected with psychological distress.
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