Insomnia can occur under many different conditions, and at almost any time throughout life.
Tough times, difficult sleep
Adults going through a stressful time in their lives, or who have a history of depression, may experience symptoms of insomnia which include trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, waking very early, and experiencing un-refreshing sleep. Women appear to experience insomnia more often than men, and may be at particular risk for insomnia during menopause. Some even report pre-travel or “first night in a hotel” insomnia.
Insomnia is complex and commonplace
The truth is that insomnia is a complex and not very widely understood sleep disorder. A third or more of U.S. adults experience some symptoms of insomnia, while millions more people worldwide cope with insomnia and other sleep problems. Chronic insomnia is a persistent form of the sleep disorder that lasts for more than one month. Chronic insomnia affects an estimated 10 to 15 percent of American adults. It’s a condition that can drastically diminish a person’s quality of life.
There’s a lot of evidence that ties insomnia to serious clinical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and sleep apnea.
But what are the facts? How much do we actually know about insomnia?
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep at night or to stay sleeping throughout the night. Insomnia can come and go at throughout certain times in life, particularly during periods of stress or when a person is taking certain medications. It can occur as a result of jet lag or after getting assigned the night shift at work.
Different sources of the sleep problem
Sometimes, insomnia is a symptom or complication of another medical condition. This form of insomnia is referred to by sleep experts as “secondary insomnia.” But insomnia doesn’t only exist as a symptom or complication of another disorder: primary insomnia occurs without a symptomatic link to any other illness or condition.
Sleep Fact: People who just happen to be fully functional after getting only 2 or 3 hours of sleep every night (1-3% of the general population) are not necessarily insomniacs. Everybody requires a different amount of sleep every night in order to function. It is only when the quality of your sleep is being compromised that insomnia may be a real issue.
Why can’t I sleep?
Insomniacs experience symptoms of sleep deprivation during the day, including:
- Decreased creativity and productivity at work
- Decreased energy at work and in social situations
- Increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of obesity
Links to depression and anxiety
Problems falling asleep and staying asleep originate in a variety of different causes, but one of the most prevalent is the presence of depression or anxiety. The three conditions have been very closely tied in research. Insomnia is often a side effect of medications used to treat other conditions, including heart problems, depression, and arthritis.
Most temporary medical conditions are a shock to the body, which needs time to adjust to changes. As such, seeking treatment for the underlying condition will most likely improve a person’s insomnia.
What to do
If you think you may be suffering from insomnia, and your symptoms last for longer than one month, you may need to consult a medical doctor or a sleep center for help with your insomnia. A trained sleep specialist will take you through your options for temporary insomnia treatment.
When insomnia persists
In the presence of chronic insomnia, more serious measures must sometimes be taken to preserve one’s quality of rest. A doctor will first work at properly to identify any possible underlying cause of insomnia. Your physician may suggest moving forward with a number of different insomnia treatment techniques or a combination of several techniques:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Sleep Hygiene
- Relaxation Therapy
- Stimulus Control
- Sleep Restriction
- Sleep Management Tools and Devices
Sleep Medicine and Medical Therapy
- Sleep Medicine and Medical Therapy
- Prescription Sleep Aids
- Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
- At-Home Herbal Remedies
Recovery takes time
Reversing chronic insomnia can take time and effort. However, with proper diligence (and perhaps the help of a sleep professional), the symptoms of insomnia can be significantly reduced so that you can enjoy life to its fullest.