Many of us lie awake late at night counting sheep to fall asleep. What seems like an inconvenience is actually a disorder that innumerable people suffer from. Studies have proven that millions of people suffer from insomnia. It is a disorder that impedes individuals from falling asleep.There are two main types of insomnia. The first one is primary insomnia. If you have primary insomnia, you have sleep problems that are not linked to other health conditions or problems. The second type is secondary insomnia. With this type of insomnia, an individual experiences sleep problems due to a health condition such as depression or arthritis. The other reasons that secondary insomnia are found in individuals is due to medication that he or she is taking or abusing a substance such as alcohol.
What Are The Causes?
The disorder may further be categorized into acute or chronic. If you suffer from the disorder for a short period, which is usually from one night to a few weeks, you are categorized into acute. For sufferers experiencing the disorder on a long-term basis, at least three nights a week for three months or longer, they are grouped into the chronic category (1).
The causes of acute insomnia:
- Stress resulting from traumatic experiences such as a death of a loved one or unemployment.
- Physical or mental torment.
- Factors affecting sleep such as noise and extreme temperatures.
- Certain medications.
- Sleep cycle variations such as sleeping during the day instead of at night.
The causes of chronic insomnia:
- Physical torment experienced at night.
- Chronic stress.
Take Home Note:
Insomnia is a disorder that impedes millions of people from falling asleep. People who have suffered for a short period of time are categorized into the acute group, and people who suffer from the disorder at least three nights a week for several months or longer are categorized as having chronic insomnia.
There are several symptoms that individuals with the disorder experience. The most common, and primary, is that they have challenges with falling asleep at night. For those who are fortunate to eventually fall asleep, they may awake during the night. The third symptom is that sufferers will wake up too early, and they will not feel rested after sleeping.
The fifth symptom that an individual with the disorder experiences is feeling tired during the day and sleepy. As a result of lack of sleep, persons with the disorder are easily irritable by trifling matters. They also experience depression or anxiety. Another symptom is the inability to focus on tasks or to remember certain things as well as finding it challenging to pay attention (2).
Take Home Note:
The most common symptom of the disorder is having challenges to fall asleep at night. The other symptoms include waking up during the night, not feeling rested in the morning, being irritable during the day and experiencing depression.
Prevention And Healthy Sleeping Habits
Individuals should deploy strategies to avoid getting insomnia. It is possible for anyone to experience stages of inadequate sleep for many reasons, but when that occurs, you should take every preventive measure to ensure the disorder does not exacerbate (3).
- Sleep hygiene – this strategy involves establishing a sleeping cycle and not deviating from it. You should stick to a bedtime routine and ensure that you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Do not drink coffee or tea prior to bedtime. Ensure you eliminate any factors that may disturb your sleep such as noise or lighting.
- Stress – the disorder is usually a bi-product of experiencing medical or psychological conditions. The disorder may be stimulated by stress, and the worst part is that lack of sleep may amplify stress. As soon as you feel stress, make sure to remedy it to prevent any sleeping disorders.
- Depression – needs to be dealt with as soon as you experience any emotional torment to avoid stimulating insomnia.
- Limit sleep during the day – avoid naps as much as possible.
- Make sure you are active – exercising and being busy during the day promotes sleep.
Take Home Note:
To prevent the onset of insomnia, individuals should follow certain strategies such as establishing a sleeping cycle, dealing with stress and depression, limiting day-time sleep and staying active.
How To Get Rid Of The Disorder
Individuals who have the disorder should engage in relaxation training. This training educates individuals to tense and relax muscles in the different parts of your body. Other techniques that may be used are breathing exercises, meditation and guided imagery. Stimulus control involves going to bed at times when you feel sleepy and to rise out of bed if you have been awake for 20 minutes.
Prescription and non-prescription medications are available to fight the disorder. Prior to using any medication, it is crucial that you visit a doctor for the recommended medication to suit the condition you are experiencing (4).
Cognitive behavioral therapy may assist individuals experiencing stress. It is important that they acknowledge that it is stress hindering them from having a restful sleep. One of the ways is to ascertain any negative thoughts that the person may be harboring. Counselling and psychological therapy may assist in this regard.
It is extremely important that you get sufficient levels of magnesium to prevent any sleeping problems. If your intake of sugar is exorbitant and you often feel stressed, this results in low magnesium levels. Ensure you eat foods that contain magnesium such as seeds, nuts and vegetables (5).
Melatonin has been proven to be highly effective in diagnosing chronic insomnia, although, it is usually very advantageous in specific conditions such as jet lag.