SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL
WHAT IS IT?
Insomnia is a common problem that affects almost everyone at some point. Without enough sleep, you may feel sleepy during the day. This can make you more likely to have an accident at work and can make driving dangerous. You may also feel irritable from lack of sleep. Some people have trouble remembering things, don’t get as much done, and don’t enjoy being with family and friends. Having trouble sleeping from time to time is often linked to short-term stress. If can last for days to weeks. It often gets better in less than a month. Insomnia can also develop into an ongoing sleep problem, especially when you worry about not sleeping well.
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking during the night
- Waking earlier than desired
- Still feeling tired after a night’s sleep
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- Poor concentration and focus
- Being uncoordinated, an increase in errors or accidents
- Difficulty socializing
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Worrying about sleeping
TYPES, CAUSES, TIPS
Insomnia is categorized into 3 types, measured by the length of time you have insomnia for. Each type of insomnia has its own causes. If you don’t get your insomnia treated, a relatively simple short term insomnia problem can, over time, develop into a more complex long term insomnia problem. But no matter how long you have had insomnia for or how major the problem is, insomnia can in the vast majority of cases can be cured with the right treatment. By indentifying the type of your insomnia, you will be in a much better position to understand what is causing it and what you can do to break the habit.
All the effects are short term so you should return to your normal sleep once they have passed. The best thing to do with transient insomnia is to keep a calm. Steady sleep routine and not to worry about getting to sleep. It is often the worry of trying to get to sleep that gets in the way of sleep. Allow it to happen on its own, steady pace.
While the causes are bigger than transient insomnia, they are still fairly short-term so your problem should in time disappear. The best thing you can do if you are suffering with short-term insomnia is to keep to good sleep practices.
This type lasts for months, and sometimes years. The majority of chronic insomnia cases are secondary, meaning they are side effects or symptoms results from another primary problem.
WHO GETS IT
Some people are more likely to suffer from insomnia that others:
- Shift workers with frequent changes in shifts (day vs. night)
- The elderly
- Drug users
- Adolescent and young adult students
- Pregnant women
- Menopausal women
- Those with mental health disorders
Insomnia can be caused by physical factors as well as psychological factors. There is often an underlying medical condition that causes chronic insomnia, while transient insomnia may be due to a recent event or occurrence.
Disruptions in circadian rhythm – jet lag, job shift changes, high altitudes, environmental noise, heat or cold
Psychological issues – people with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, disorders, or psychotic disorders are more likely to have insomnia.
Medical conditions – brain lesions and tumors, stroke, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, angina, acid-reflux disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, hyperthyroidism, arthritis.
Hormones – estrogen, hormone shifts during menstruation
Other factors – sleeping next to a snoring partner, parasites, genetic conditions, overactive mind, pregnancy
Media technology in the bedroom – studies have found that children with TVs, computers, video games, DVD players, and mobile phones in their bedrooms sleep considerably less than kids without these devices in their bedrooms.
Certain medications have been found to cause insomnia:
Corticosteroids – used for treating patients will allergic reactions
Statins – used for treating high cholesterol level
Alpha blockers – used for treating hypertension (high blood pressure )
Beta blockers – used for treating hypertension and irregular heartbeat
SSRI antidepressants – used for treating depression
ACE inhibitors – used for the treatment of hypertension and other heart conditions
ARBs (Angiotensin II-receptor block) – used for treatment of hypertension
Cholinesterase inhibitors – used for treating memory loss and other symptoms in patients with dementia
Second generation (non-sedating) H1 agonists – used for treating allergic reactions
Glucosamine/chondroitin – dietary supplements used for relieving the symptoms of joint pain and to reduce inflammation
To reduce stress, do a few yoga positions or meditate before going to bed. Also keep a notebook on your nightstand to write down any last minute thoughts or worries. Writing these worries might help you brain shut down and sleep.
Adjust your Environment
If your room is too bright, too hot, or too loud, make some adjustments to your sleep environment. You want your sleep space to be cool, dark and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains to block out unwanted light. Most people find the optimal sleeping temperature is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. To reach this optimal temperature, invest in a fan or extra blankets. Is your bedroom too noisy? A sound machine will help drown out the noise and let you fall into a deep, rejuvenating sleep.
Talk it Out
If depression and anxiety are preventing you from sleeping, talk it out. Talking to a family member, friend or a therapist can help you work through the emotions you are feeling. The more emotions you are able to unload during the day, the better you will sleep at night. Light exercise can also help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Check Your Mattress
Is you are suffering from pain or discomfort during the night, it could be your mattress is no longer providing adequate support. A new mattress will properly support your spine while conforming to your natural curves.
Check With Your Doctor
If you take a prescription drug, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if the medication is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep. If the medicine is causing your insomnia, look into alternative that may work better for your body.
TEST AND DIAGNOSIS
A sleep specialist will usually begin a diagnostic session by asking a battery of questions about the individual’s medical history and sleep patterns. A physical exam may be conducted to look for conditions that could be causing insomnia. Similarly, doctors might screen for psychiatric disorders and drug and alcohol use.
For somebody to be diagnosed with an insomnia disorder, their disturbed sleep should have persisted for more than 1 month. It should also negatively impact the patient’s wellbeing, either through the distress that results or the disturbance in mood or performance.
A sleep specialist is trained to determine whether the symptoms are being caused by an underlying condition. The patient may be asked to keep a sleep diary to help understand their sleeping patterns.
More sophisticated tests may be employed, such as a polysomnograph, which is an overnight sleeping test that records sleep patterns. In addition, actigraphy may be conducted, which uses a small, wrist-worn device called an actigraph to measure movement and sleep-wake patterns.
Some types of insomnia resolve when the underlying cause is treated or wears off. In general, insomnia treatment focuses on determining the cause.
Once identified, this underlying cause can be properly treated or corrected. In addition to treating the underlying cause of insomnia, both medical and non-pharmacological (behavioral) treatments may be used as therapies.
Non-pharmacological approaches and home remedies for insomnia include:
Improving “sleep hygiene” – not sleeping too much or too little, exercising daily, not forcing sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine at night, avoiding smoking, avoiding going to bed hungry, and ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment
Using relaxation techniques – such as meditation and muscle relaxation
Cognitive therapy – one-on-one counseling or group therapy
Stimulus control therapy – only go to bed when sleepy, avoid watching TV/ reading/ eating/ worrying in bed, set an alarm for the same time every morning (even weekends), avoid long daytime naps
Sleep restriction – decrease the time spent in bed and partially deprive the body of sleep, this increases tiredness ready for the next night
Medical treatments for insomnia include:
- Prescription sleeping pills
- Over-the-counter sleep aids