What is Insomnia?
A person who has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night may be suffering from insomnia. It is a type of sleep disorder and can be chronic or acute. This sleep disorder may not be persistent and thus may or may not happen every day. Chronic insomnia is termed so if it lasts for more than 3 months or so and it is termed acute if it happens at least once in a few weeks. The types of insomnia are:
- Primary insomnia: In this condition sleep issues are not due to any underlying health conditions
- Secondary insomnia: It is a sleep disorder that happens due to health conditions like cancer, asthma, Depression, and other such complications.
There are many Symptoms associated with this sleep disorder due to underlying medical conditions. Some of them are:
- Intermittent sleeping at night
- Difficult to sleep during the nights
- Waking up earlier than needed
- Tiredness in the morning after a night’s sleep
- Worrying about sleep
- Sleepiness and fatigue at daytime
- Irritability and mood swings
- Anxiety or Depression
- Headaches or feeling of tightness around the head
- Lack of focus and poor concentration
- Feeling uncoordinated which results in errors and/or accidents
- Gastrointestinal issues
If you are having a night of disturbed sleep for no reason for over a month, or fall asleep during the day without even knowing or feel fatigued and sleepy during the daytime you may need to see an insomnia doctor who will monitor your sleep and determine the reason.
Insomnia Risk Factors
Insomnia can happen to anyone of any age and is seen more commonly in adult women than men. Insomnia is common in people:
- Suffering from Depression or other emotional disorders
- High levels of anxiety and stress
- Work in shifts and hence have changing sleep hours
- Lead a sedentary lifestyle
- Often travel to different locations in different time zones
- People who are having cardiovascular issues
- Pregnant or Menopausal women
- People who use illicit drugs
- Young students
People who suffer from insomnia have performance issues which further leads to more anxiety, irritability, memory problems, lack of immunity, and lack of focus.
There are many psychological and physical factors that contribute to this sleep disorder. Chronic insomnia can also happen due to underlying conditions while acute insomnia is due to recent events or occurrences. Some of the common Causes are:
- Medical conditions: GERD (acid-reflux Disease), heart failure, chronic pain as in arthritis, angina, chronic fatigue syndrome, tumors, stroke, brain lesions, and much more.
- Disruptions in sleep pattern: It can happen due to jet lag, extreme weather, environmental noise, shift changes.
- Psychological problems: Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders.
- Hormonal changes during menopause or pregnancy
- Other factors like snoring partners, pregnancy or parasites
The Diagnosis for this sleep disorder is done by looking at the person’s medical records and sleep patterns. The doctor may screen for drug and alcohol abuse and refer to psychiatrists if a drug problem or a psychiatric disorder is seen. If there are no such problems, the patient is asked to keep a sleep diary to know the sleep patterns. Insomnia Test is conducted to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions. Other tests recommended are:
- Polysomnography: The doctor may also order polysomnography which is a sleeping test that notes the sleep patterns.
- Actigraph: A device is attached to the wrist to measure the sleep patterns
The insomnia cure is dependent on the underlying cause and hence to resolve it, the focus is on knowing the root cause of this problem. Once that is known, Treatment can be provided. The Treatment for it includes medicine for insomnia and behavioral corrections.
Medical Treatments include:
- Sleeping pills
- Sleeping aids to improve the quality of sleep
Non-medical Treatment includes:
- Behavioral therapy
- Group sessions
Call our Care.fit doctors if you are also experiencing sleep problems without any apparent reason. They will conduct thorough tests, determine the cause, and Treat it. What’s more, they are available for video consultations too!
If you are suffering from insomnia, certain changes in lifestyle and behavior can help you get back your sleep. Some of the tips are:
- Follow good sleep hygiene by waking and sleeping at the same time every day
- Include exercise as part of your daily routine as that can improve the quality of sleep
- Limit alcohol and caffeine content especially a few hours before bed
- Avoid naps during the day especially late in the afternoon
- Do not use the bed for any other activity other than sleeping
- Do not consume water before going to bed
- Reduce stress
- Attend cognitive therapy