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Insomnia

Insomnia: Causes, Prevention, And Treatment

Sleep disorders are one of the most common illnesses affecting more than 70 million Americans yearly. Insomnia stands first in sleep disorders, affecting about 33% to 50% of adults. Chronic insomnia, generally associated with impairment and distress, affects about 10% to 15% of American adults.
This article delves into what insomnia is, insomnia causes and prevention, and insomnia treatment. Let’s get started!

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that hampers the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It may prevent you from sleeping adequately for long periods or returning to sleep once you wake up. People with insomnia may feel tired and sleepy even after waking up, as this disorder can suck up your mood, energy, work performance, health, and quality of life.
Although the amount of required sleep varies from one individual to the other, most adults need about seven to eight hours of adequate sleep every night. Some people may experience acute or short-term insomnia, which may last for a few days or weeks. A traumatic event or stress may cause it.

However, some people may suffer from chronic or long-term insomnia, lasting more than a month. In addition to underlying causes of insomnia, certain medical conditions and medications can also cause this disorder.

Related: What do insomnia and sleep apnea have in common?

Insomnia Symptoms

The most common symptoms of insomnia are as follows:

  • Inability or difficulty in falling asleep.
  • Frequent night waking.
  • Feeling lazy and sleeping after a night’s sleep.
  • Waking up earlier than necessary.
  • Sleepiness or tiredness during the day.
  • Difficulty in remembering things.
  • Inability to focus or pay attention.
  • Anxiety, depression, or irritability.
  • An elevated number of accidents or errors.
  • Excessive worries about sleep.

Types of Insomnia

Depending upon the duration of the symptoms, insomnia is typically divided into two categories:

Short-term insomnia

Short-term insomnia, also known as acute insomnia, generally lasts a few days or weeks and is often triggered by trauma or stress.

Long-term insomnia

Long-term insomnia, also known as chronic insomnia, causes sleep difficulties at least three times per week for about three months or more.

Causes of Insomnia

Several psychological, physiological, and environmental factors can contribute to the onslaught and development of insomnia, some of which are as follows:

  • Sleep disorders – such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or others.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Inconsistent sleeping habits.
  • Stress such as relationship problems, financial difficulties, and job complications.
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer.
  • Chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, arthritis, or other serious conditions.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, including heartburn.
  • Serious neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders.
  • Particular medications and substances.
  • Hormonal fluctuations due to menstruation, menopause, thyroid disease, or other problems.

Related: The Differences Between Sleep Apnea And Insomnia.

Risk Factors for Insomnia

Insomnia is more common in women as compared to men. That is because pregnancy and hormonal fluctuations can also affect sleep. Certain hormonal changes, such as menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), can also affect sleep.
Age is also a primary factor affecting sleep: people over the age of 60 are less likely to sleep well because of the natural body changes that occur during aging. They may also suffer from medical conditions or take medications that can interfere with sleep.

Effects of Insomnia

The direct consequences of insomnia may include the following:

  • Feeling fatigued or low on energy during the day.
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable.
  • Struggling at school, work, or in relationships.
  • Facing difficulty in concentrating or memorizing.

Treatment and Management of Insomnia

Acute insomnia generally gets better on its own, and a few lifestyle changes can help expedite recovery. The following procedures can treat chronic insomnia:

Related: Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia: Therapy (CBT-I)

CBT-I is a structured and brief intervention that helps patients determine and replace behaviors and thoughts that may cause or aggravate sleep problems with healthy habits that promote sleep.
CBT-I can help root out the underlying causes of insomnia instead of merely dealing with it temporarily, as sleeping pills do.

Medications

Although behavioral and lifestyle changes are the most suitable options to treat insomnia, taking sleeping pills for a brief amount of time can help promote sleep in some cases.
Sleep specialists typically recommend sleeping pills every now and then for a short period of time, but they are not the first treatment choice for insomnia.

Related: What Happens When You Stop Breathing?

Preventing Insomnia

Improvements to your sleep hygiene and making minute lifestyle changes can usually help an individual sleep better. Such minute changes include the following:

  • Performing physical activity during the day, preferably outside.
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and large meals before sleeping.
  • Going to bed and getting up consistently at a particular time, even on weekends.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Laying down in a quiet, cool, and dark room.
  • Putting away TV, laptops, smartphones, or other fluorescent screens at least thirty minutes before bedtime.
  • Using relaxation activities to unwind, including soothing music, meditation, or a good book.

If you or a loved one is experiencing insomnia then SleepRx is here to help! You can book an online appointment with a certified sleep specialist within minutes at SleepRx and even order tests or medications at home!

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