What Is Insomnia? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
What Is Insomnia? When your ability to feel or perform is hampered because you aren't getting enough or quality sleep, you are said to have insomnia. The percentage of people who have insomnia which is considered to be a medical issue is around 10%.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restorative and sufficient sleep. It can lead to various daytime symptoms and functional impairments because it prevents individuals from getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, even if you have ample time and a bedroom environment conducive to restful sleep. An insomnia diagnosis requires these sleep troubles to also cause daytime impairments, such as sleepiness or difficulty concentrating.
Up to two-thirds of people occasionally experience insomnia symptoms. These bouts of sleeplessness may or may not meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis of insomnia, depending on how long they last and whether they cause distress or interfere with daily functioning. However, it is important for anyone who has concerns about their sleep to discuss them with a health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
A doctor can ask questions to better understand your situation and order tests to determine if an insomnia diagnosis is appropriate. Symptoms of insomnia can overlap with symptoms of other sleep disorders, so it is important to work with a professional rather than attempting to self-diagnose.
Types of Insomnia
The two main types of insomnia are acute insomnia and chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia describes sleep difficulties that last for a few days or weeks, but not longer than three months. Short-term insomnia can often be traced to an external cause or life stressor like divorce, the death of a loved one, or a major illness. If acute insomnia persists over multiple months, it becomes classified as chronic insomnia.
Chronic insomnia is when a person experiences sleeping difficulties and related daytime symptoms, like sleepiness and attention issues, at least three days per week for longer than three months. It is estimated that about 10% to 15% of people have chronic insomnia.
People with chronic insomnia commonly feel distressed about their inability to sleep and the daytime symptoms caused by those sleep issues. Symptoms are generally severe enough to affect a person’s work or school performance as well as their social or family life.
Symptoms of Insomnia
The symptoms of insomnia include various sleep-related difficulties and daytime problems. Common sleep issues that can signal the presence of insomnia include:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Trouble staying asleep throughout the night
- Unwanted early morning waking
- Resisting sleeping at bedtime in children and teens
- Difficulty sleeping without a caregiver’s help in children and teens
In addition, insomnia causes daytime symptoms related to sleep loss. Those with insomnia often report feeling fatigued during waking hours, which may lead to impaired attention or memory. Insomnia-related sleepiness can affect work, school or social performance, and increase the risk of accidents. Insomnia has the potential to negatively influence behavioral health and may contribute to instances of irritability, hyperactivity, or aggressiveness, especially in children.
Is there a treatment for insomnia? Is there a cure?
There are several strategies to cure insomnia, from making little adjustments to your daily routine and habits to using different medications. The primary methods for treating insomnia include:
- Creating and maintaining healthy sleeping patterns, commonly referred to as excellent sleep hygiene.
- Medication that aids in falling or maintaining sleep, particularly if it isn't habit-forming or otherwise likely to interfere with sleep.
- Medicine for the mind.
Prescription drugs that promote sleep
There are numerous drugs that can aid in falling or maintaining sleep. Many of them include prescription and over-the-counter sedatives and hypnotics, as well as pharmaceuticals for mental health, certain herbs, and dietary supplements.
- Drugs known as sedatives derive their name from a Latin term that means "to settle." The nerve system's activity is decreased.
- Drugs that induce hypnosis: These are named after the Greek sleep god Hypnos. These induce slumber.
Generally speaking, the best person to inform you of the available therapies and which ones they suggest for you is your healthcare professional. They are also the best source of knowledge regarding therapy side effects and problems.
Examples of drugs are shown below, however this is not a comprehensive list of all treatments. Keep in mind that not everyone will benefit from taking sleeping pills. Your age and physical health may also be a factor, and certain medications and others may interact with one another.
It's also crucial to bear in mind that while certain drugs can improve your sleep, others may have the opposite effect. It's crucial to get excellent sleep, not just a lot of it. That means you should use drugs cautiously, especially those that are available over-the-counter.
How can I look after myself?
Sleep hygiene is one of the most crucial things you can do to aid with your insomnia and general sleep. These comprise, but are not restricted to:
- Make and stick to a sleeping regimen. Having a routine is typically the best thing you can do for your body and sleep requirements. Establish a bedtime and adhere to it as strictly as you can, even on weekends, holidays, and vacations. Avoid taking naps in the late afternoon or early evening as they can disrupt your sleep cycle and try not to rely on them.
- Give yourself enough time to unwind. As much as you can, put your worries from the day behind you before going to bed. Include a period of time between the time you end your work for the day and your bedtime. You may find it easier to fall asleep after doing that. Instead of staying awake in bed if you can't sleep, try to do something tranquil or relaxing.
- Become at ease. If you want to get good rest, it's crucial to feel comfortable. Set the temperature, sounds, and lighting in your bedroom appropriately. You might want to give this a try as well. Some individuals find that using a sound generator that plays a particular frequency of sound as they sleep is more relaxing.
- Lay that gadget down. Electronic equipment frequently emits light types that deceive your brain into believing that it is not nighttime. That may prevent the hormones from being released that alert your body and brain to sleep time.
- Take care with what you consume. It can be difficult to fall asleep if you eat or drink too much, too late, or both. The things you eat or drink, particularly those containing caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine, can have an impact on how well you sleep.
- Remain active. Even brisk walking counts as exercise and can improve your sleep.
Speak with your healthcare practitioner if you frequently have sleep issues. Your primary care physician can assist you in understanding the cause of your insomnia and in making changes to your sleeping habits. They can also assist in identifying any medical conditions that might impair your capacity for sleep.
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