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Insomnia - Symptom, Treatment And Causes


What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder which makes the affected hard to sleep, stay asleep or make you wake up too fast. Insomnia can also make it difficult for you to go back to sleep once you have woken up. This disorder makes you tired the whole day and drains your energy levels, health, mood, work performance and quality of life. A lot of adults can experience short-term (acute) insomnia that lasts for weeks or days. This is usually due to an after effect of a traumatizing event or just stress. But mostly, people who experience chronic (long term) insomnia which lasts for more than a month is caused due to certain medical conditions or side effects of medicines.

What are the types of insomnia?

Insomnia is classified as Acute, Chronic, Onset, Maintenance, and behavioral insomnia of childhood.

  • Acute insomnia: The most common type of insomnia lasts for a few days to months. It is otherwise called adjustment insomnia as it develops when you start with a new job, experience a stressful incident.
  • Chronic insomnia: It is defined as occurring sleep problems for at least three days a week or lasting for at least a month. Primary and secondary chronic insomnia are the types where the first one is called idiopathic. Secondary or co-morbid insomnia may have caused such as medical conditions say diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety, medicines like chemotherapy drugs, anti-depressants, using caffeine or other drugs, lifestyle factors such as jet lag, night shifts, napping.
  • Onset insomnia: It defines trouble in falling asleep at the start of the night.
  • Maintenance insomnia: Unable to stay asleep. People who suffer from maintenance insomnia will wake up during the night and face difficulties in returning to sleep.

Causes of Insomnia:

For the treatment of insomnia, it is important to treat the underlying cause. It can be caused due to life events, stress and bad habits that affect your sleeping patterns. However, some other causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress- Concerns about family, finances, health, school and work can keep our mind active even if you are tired. This makes it very difficult to sleep. Trauma or life events like a job loss, divorce, illness or death of a loved one can result to insomnia.
  • Work or travel schedule- Frequently changing shifts at work, doing a late shift, jet lags and travelling across different time zones can disrupt your body’s sleep cycle and lead to insomnia.
  • Unhealthy sleep habits- Sleep habits such as eating just before sleeping, watching too much television, using your bed during work, uneasy sleep environment, stimulating physical activities before bed, uneven naps and irregular sleep schedules can cause insomnia.
  • Eating too much before bed- Eating a lot of food can make you very uncomfortable while lying down. A lot of people who eat a lot before sleeping complain of heartburn. This occurs when the food and acid from the stomach flows into the esophagus. This is a major reason for insomnia.
  • Mental issues- Disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders can also trigger insomnia. Certain form of impulse control disorders might also make you stressed out which eventually leads to insomnia.
  • Medications- Prescription drugs and certain medications used to treat blood pressure and asthma can also cause insomnia.
  • Other disorders- Medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, overactive thyroid, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic pain can also trigger insomnia.

How to diagnose insomnia?

Depending on the patient’s situation, the insomnia is diagnosed.

Generally, a physical examination will be done initially if the cause of the problem is unknown. In the physical examination, the doctor will check out the signs and he may prescribe some blood tests to rule out any underlying disease of the problem. Next, the sleeping habits will be reviewed by the medical professional with a questionnaire such as wake-up time, sleeping time and day time sleepiness.

If the cause of insomnia is not clear or the patient has signs of other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, then he/she will be made to spend a night at the sleep center. Tests will be conducted to assess various bodily activities while sleeping including breathing, eye and body movements, brain waves and heartbeat.

What is the best treatment for insomnia?

Insomnia is one of the sleeping disorder types in which individuals feel difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. Insomniac patients will always feel fatigued and dull since their sleep is totally deprived. Irregular and interrupted sleep may lead to other health issues. Hence, it is always better to treat the problem in the early stage itself. The treatment for insomnia can also offer medical and non-medical therapy.

Psychotherapy, developing better sleep habits and medicines will come under non-medical therapy. If diabetes or menopause causes insomnia, then the condition will be treated. If medicines are the culprit of insomnia, then either the drug will be altered or the dose will be reduced. Short-term insomnia is caused due to travel, stress that can be treated with OTC drugs whereas chronic insomnia can be treated with medicines after a thorough physical and medical examination.

What are the effect of insomnia over the body and mind?

While sleeping the body is hard at work tending to both physical and mental health and helping to get ready for the next day. Suffering from insomnia will cause serious effects over the body and mind. Just missing out one night’s sleep may cause a lack of energy, and focus along with mood swings and irritability.

The long-term effects of insomnia are highly serious that cause poor physical and mental coordination, struggling in decision making. The psychological effects of insomnia are anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation. When you discuss the effects of insomnia over the body it includes cardiovascular issues such as stroke, hypertension, brain issues such as paranoia, hallucinations, mania, impulsive disorder, stomach issues and immune system issues such as inability to prevent and fight against sickness, even common cold. The victim may also have a poor sex drive, increased weight, poor balance.

What are the home remedies for insomnia?

  • Many cases of insomnia can be well treated with lifestyle changes and home remedies. Herbal tea, warm milk and poppy seeds can be tried for the best results.
  • Meditation is the key to stay away from insomnia naturally. It calms your mind and body, makes you fall in sleep and stay in sleep. Meditation helps very much in reducing depression, anxiety, stress, pain, and digestive issues.
  • Melatonin is produced in the body naturally which makes your sleep pattern firm. Adding melatonin supplements will help extremely to insomniacs. At the same time, only for a short period of time, the melatonin intake is recommended.
  • Aromatherapy is found to be good for insomniacs. The essential oils such as sandalwood, cedarwood, lavender available with strong aroma naturally. Inhaling the oils and massaging with the oil/s on the head or whole body brings out good sleep


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