Insomnia: Types, Symptoms, Treatment and Remedies
Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder whereby a person has difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Research has shown that chronic insomnia was seen in about 33% of the adult population. It is also one of the most common but neglected conditions seen in family practice with long-term and serious hazards on a patient’s health. It affects women more than men. Most people with insomnia usually don’t feel refreshed each time they wake up from sleep.
Types of Insomnia
The two main types of insomnia are:
- Acute insomnia: Also known as short-term or adjustment insomnia. It can last from one night to a few weeks and eventually up to a month. It is a brief episode of difficulty sleeping. Acute insomnia mainly occurs as a result of a stressful life event such as heartbreak, disturbing health diagnosis, etc. These symptoms usually disappear on their own once the person learns to cope with the stressful situation.
- Chronic Insomnia: This occurs due to patterns created for a long time leading to difficulty sleeping. It can happen at least 3 nights a week for more than 3 months.
Daily sleep required
National Sleep Foundation recommends that on average, we need:
- Adults require 7-9 hours
- Teens require 8-10 hours
- Children require 9- 13 hours
- Toddlers and babies 12 -17 hours
Causes Of Insomnia
- Noisy environment
- Mental Health Disorders (eg: anxiety, depression, etc)
- Extreme temperatures (either too hot or too cold)
- Irregular Sleep Schedules
- Sickness and Pain
- Uncomfortable beds
- Jet lag
- Unhealthy habits (drinking alcohol, coffee or caffeine-containing drinks before bed, etc)
- Recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy
- Work shift
- Poor sleep hygiene such as Scanning your smartphone in bed, Working in bed
- Hormones: A decrease in estrogen in postmenopausal women causes severe hot flashes which are strongly associated with chronic insomnia.
Symptoms of insomnia
Some symptoms of insomnia include:
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Feeling tired after waking up.
- Difficulty falling asleep after waking up
- Waking up several times during the night
- Difficulty taking a nap during the day even when you are exhausted
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Lying awake all night and cannot find sleep.
Complications of Insomnia
- Excessive daytime sleepiness leading to impairment
- High risk of auto-mobile accidents (The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that one out of every six (16.5%) deadly traffic accidents, and one out of eight (12.5%) crashes requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving. (AAA, 2010). One analysis estimated the cost of automobile accidents attributed to sleepiness to be between $29.2 to $37.9 billion. (Leger, 1994)
- Difficulty concentrating
- It affects our overall health.
- Weight gain
- Low your sex drive
- Weaken immune system
Some Test Done to Diagnose Insomnia
- Sleep log: This helps your doctor track your sleep patterns helping him reach a diagnosis. find out more
- Polysomnogram: A test measuring activity during sleep.
- Human electroencephalogram (EEG): These are electrodes used to record your brainwaves to help categorize the states of sleep
- Actigraphy: A test to assess sleep-wake patterns over time. These are small devices worn on the wrist almost like a wristwatch.
Medications can be used to treat insomnia some of which includes
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medication like an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). They have long-term side effects so, it’s advised that you see your doctor before starting any OTC medication to treat insomnia.
- Prescription medications that could be used to treat insomnia are eszopiclone (Lunesta), zolpidem (Ambien), ramelteon (Rozerem), trazodone (Desyrel, zaleplon (Sonata), etc. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement rushed Source for Ambien. For some people, this drug caused a risk of “next-morning impairment“. These causes decreased alertness mostly in women because they metabolize the drug slowly. Speak with your doctor before using any medications or supplements to treat your insomnia.
Note: Not all sleep medication is appropriate for everyone.
Also, making some lifestyle changes or trying various home remedies can help manage many cases of insomnia.
Some Lifestyles Changes That Can Help
- Stay active: Regular activities and exercise help you sleep well at night.
- Check your medications: Avoid medications that prevent sleep. See your doctor if you are on prescription medication. Also, check labels of OTC products to ensure they do not caffeine or other stimulants. Click here to find out a list of medications that can cause insomnia
- Avoid large meals at night: Light snacks can help avoid heartburn. Drink fewer fluids before bedtime to avoid frequent urge to urinate.
- Speak to your doctor about getting a remedy for a pain reliever if you have pain.
- Decrease the number of naps you have during the day because it makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Do not nap after 3 p.m.
Sleep education and hygiene
- Ensure your bedroom is comfortable: Keep it quiet, dark, and cozy. Avoid texting or reading on the bed. The bed should be for sleep and sex only. Let the temperature be comfortable.
- Stay consistent with a sleep schedule: Sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
- If you are not sleeping, do not say in bed.
- Warm milk, herbal tea, red wine (With an extra glass of wine at night, we enhance our body’s melatonin peak, thereby ushering in a restful night) and valerian are just a few of the natural sleep aids you can try.
- Try to relax: You can have a warm bath, a massage, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, meditation, soft sleep music, prayer, or yoga.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care, diagnosis, or treatment. it is intended for informational purposes only. Ensure you seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or in the case of a medical emergency.