Insomnia refers to a psychological or mental health disorder, particularly sleep disorder in which an individual suffer inadequate or poor-quality sleep.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can be described as complexity in falling and/or staying asleep.
People often misconceive their general sleep disturbances with insomnia but it is not actually the same. General sleep disturbances can be out of day time naps, caffeine intakes, late night shifts at work, improper schedule of food intake, stressful situations, disturbed circadian rhythm etc. which doesn’t mean that an individual is suffering from insomnia or any other sleep related disorder.
Diagnosis of any disorder depends upon its frequency, intensity and duration. It simply means that the frequency at which the symptoms of such disorder is visible, the intensity at which it is disturbing the individual and the time duration of such symptoms. If all these points are showing a significant level, then it can be diagnosed as a disorder.
In present case, if a person is facing difficulties regarding sleep disturbances or unable to have a sound sleep from a considerable period of time, it is said to be ‘Insomnia’. Therefore, this is the literal meaning and concept of insomnia.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association states that about one-third of all adults report symptoms of insomnia up to some extent but 6 to 10 % of all adults have their symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed with insomnia disorder. It is common among adults and shows clearer signs with the age.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Some of the major visible symptoms of insomnia involve:
- Sleeping difficulty
- Daytime sleepiness
- Waking up too early
- Waking up during mid night
- General tiredness or fatigue
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Difficulty in falling or staying asleep
- Unable to feel refreshed or well-rested
- Lack of attention
- Increased errors and accidents
- Body aches
- Inactiveness towards work
- Ongoing worries about sleep
- Disturbed patterns of sleep
Types of Insomnia
Majorly there are four types of insomnia whose names and explanations are here under:
- Primary insomnia: It refers to the situation in which an individual in suffering from some sleep related problems but that is not directly associated with any other with physical or mental health condition.
- Secondary insomnia: It refers to the situation where an individual is suffering from some sleep related issues due to an adverse health condition such as pain, stress, depression, cancer, heartburn, asthma, arthritis, medication of a disease, substance abuse, alcoholism etc.
- Acute Insomnia: It is the type of insomnia which occurs for a short period of time. It may come and go as per the situational triggers. Acute insomnia lasts from one day to few weeks.
- Chronic Insomnia: It is such type of insomnia which lasts for a longer period of time i.e. at least three nights to a week or a month or even longer.
Causes of Insomnia
Some of the major causes leading to insomnia include:
- Major life stress (job loss or change of job, demise of a loved one, divorce etc.)
- Illness or ill health
- Medication (in order to treat cough n cold, high blood pressure, depression, allergies, asthma etc.) may hamper one’s sleep cycle
- Environmental factors such as noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that obstruct sleep
- Interference in usual sleep schedule (for instance jet lag or switching from a day to night shift work)
- Mental health disorders like Post traumatic stress disorder, Attention deficit hyperactive disorder etc.
- Chronic illness
- Disturbed work schedule or work stress
- Intake of food too late in the evening
- Emotional or physical discomfort
- Chronic stress
- Excessive anxiety
- Pain or discomfort at night
- Poor sleeping habits
- Excessive intake of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol
- Lack of physical as well as mental exercise
- Changes in sleep patterns
Treatment for Insomnia
Some of the popular psychological therapies which can be practiced in order to treat insomnia are s follows:
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy: In this therapy, the therapist tries to displace client’s negative thought process into positive ones. This therapy helps the client to remove his/her irrational thinking by diagnosing and treating the root cause of insomnia, which lowers down the unwanted thought process and give a sense of relaxation to the individual and that ultimately affects the sleep.
2. Light therapy: Light therapy is used to expose your eyes to intense but safe amount of light for a selected and regular duration of time. Light therapy can help someone “re-set” a clock this is off. Regular sleep styles help to hold the clock set at a new time. The goal for treating those people who have circadian rhythm issues is to combine a healthy sleep pattern with an internal clock that is set on the right time.
3. Progressive muscle relaxation: PMR is a relaxation technique in which all the body muscles from toe to head are contracted and relaxed in a certain pattern which loosen up the stiffness of the body and helps the individual to sleep.
4. Breathing control exercises: There are numerous breathing control exercises such as Inhale-exhale, 4-7-8 etc. which helps the person to divert his/her mind as well as relaxes it and ultimately helps to sleep.
5. Sleep restriction therapy: In this therapy, the sleep cycle and sleeping habits of an individual is toned such as not to spend much time in bed, avoid taking frequent naps during odd times, not to use phones and/or laptops while in bed, use alarm clock to set a proper sleep schedule etc.
6. Reconditioning: This therapy helps the client to establish a proper relationship between his/her bed and sleep. It is nothing but modifying one’s behavior as to get conditioned with bed and ultimately get a sound sleep.
Constructive sleeping habits
There are some sleep habits which helps a person to get plenty of sleep and also helps to treat insomnia. These habits are also termed as ‘sleep hygiene’. Some of the common habits are:
- Fix a time schedule to sleep as well as to wake up.
- Avoid taking naps in day time since it makes one less sleepy at night.
- Avoid using cell phones or laptops while in bed since these gadgets emit light which obstruct the person to sleep.
- Avoid intake of nicotine, caffeine or alcohol in late hours because they are stimulants and hamper one’s sleep quality.
- Perform exercise and meditation regularly during morning hours of the day.
- Shift the heavy meals towards the day time and take some light snacks in dinner.
- Have a comfortable setting to sleep i.e. the bed should be comfortable, there should be dark, quite environment, temperature should be controlled etc.
- Listen to soothing music, read a book or take a shower before sleeping because this routine establishes conditioning with one’s sleep.
- Do not use bed for any work other than sleep or sex.
- If one is not feeling sleepy or drowsy, he/she should come out of the bed and start performing any other activity like reading, walking etc. until they feel sleepy enough to go to bed and doze.
- Make a to-do-list before going to bed in order to avoid the worries about things as well as to divert oneself from such worries overnight.
Conclusively, this was a brief understanding, meaning, concept, signs and symptoms, causes and treatment of insomnia.
Hope you find the above information beneficial.
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