What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleeping disorder in which a person is unable to sleep well even if he or she has a chance to do so. What this means is that even though a person might want to sleep, they cannot manage to fall asleep. It is a very discomforting disorder whichmillions of people worldwide suffer from.
People who suffer from insomnia either have difficulties sleeping at night or do manage to sleep but their sleeping pattern is disturbed. People who suffer from insomnia wake up frequently through the night, leading to an uncomfortable sleeping experience. There are a lot of side effects of this disorder too as it derives from a person’s inability to get the amount of rest his/her body requires on a daily basis.
To put it simply, insomnia is the inability to fall asleep despite all the favorable conditions. However, sometimes without knowing, patients suffer from insomnia not knowing that unfavorable conditions are the cause of it. Anyone can suffer from insomnia despite their age. However, the disorder is more commonly found in adult males and females. Adults tend to suffer more from this disorder because they deal with a lot of work pressure that ultimately leads to stress, depression or anxiety. Children on the other hand suffer from insomnia because of unfavorable sleeping conditions.
Types of Insomnia
Insomnia is usually categorized in to three types which are as follows:
- Transient Insomnia: This happens when the symptoms lasts from a few days to some weeks. It is not very serious because the patient starts shifting back to their sleep routine in a few days.
- Acute Insomnia: This type of insomnia also called short-term insomnia. Symptoms for this keep showing up for several weeks. This is a little more serious than transient insomnia because the patient is discomforted for many days and often weeks.
- Chronic Insomnia: This type of insomnia lasts for at least months and sometimes can last for several years. According to the National Institute of Health, majority of chronic insomnia cases are secondary; this means that insomnia is basically caused by the side effects or symptoms of some other problem.
Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia:
There are several signs and symptoms which indicate that a person is suffering from insomnia. Following is a list of all the signs and symptoms that can eventually lead to insomnia.
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Wakingup frequently during the night
- Waking up earlier than desired and not getting enough sleep
- Daytime Sleepiness or Fatigue
- Irritability, Depression, Stress, Tension or Anxiety
- Lack of Concentration and Focus
- Being Uncoordinated
- Increase in the Number of errors or accidents
- Headaches caused due to Tension and Stress
- Anti-Social Behavior
- Disinterest in regular activities
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms
- Anxiety about not falling asleep despite having the chance to sleep.
- Being Physically And Mentally Ill And Daytime Sleepiness
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Insomnia
Chronic insomnia is long term insomnia which has its own signs and symptoms. These include:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Constant feeling of being tired
- Constantly feeling half-awake and half asleep
- Lethargic Behavior
- Constant sense of being disoriented
- Lack of Focus
- Lack of Concentration
- Memory Loss
- Difficulty in making judgments and decisions
- Difficulty in remembering or memorizing things
- Errors in routine behavior
- Increased number of accidents
Effects of Insomnia
There are various side effects of insomnia which not only include health conditions but also behavioral discrepancies. These might be short lived but in some cases they can have long lasting effects. Let us take a look at some of the major side effects of insomnia.
- Lack of Focus and Concentration: Insomnia can lead to lack of focus and concentration which can heavily affect work and in the case of children, school performance. Moreover, young students who suffer from insomnia may have difficulties in memorizing notes and may develop poor signs of judgment especially in academics.
- Laziness: People who tend to lose focus more frequently are usually found out to be lethargic and lazy. This derives out of the fact that they are not able to get their required amount of sleep.
- Clumsiness: One of the major side effects of insomnia is that people suffering from it tend to get clumsier and the number of errors and accidents dramatically increase.
- Poor Immune System: People suffering from insomnia fall sick often and frequently complain of being ill both physically and mentally. Their immune system starts showing poor performance and their reaction time to incidents and things happening around them also slow down significantly.
- People suffering from insomnia are at a higher risk of developing major chronic disorderssuch as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and increased blood pressure.
- Fatigue: Due to lack of sleep during the night, people suffering from insomnia tend to suffer from day time sleepiness, fatigue and body aches.
Ratio and Statistics – Approximately how many people suffer from it?
There are millions of people who suffer from insomnia worldwide and some of them are not even aware of it. Statistically speaking, according to the National Sleep Foundation; it has been found out that at least thirty percent to forty percent of American adults have experiencedsymptoms of insomnia in the last twelve months or so. Ten percent to fifteen percent of American adults have been reported to suffer from chronic insomnia. This means that the disorder has plagued them for several months or in some cases, several years.
Causes of Insomnia – What are the reason behind the disorder?
Insomnia can be caused by many factors which can be family, work, finance or health related. Here are some of the most common causes of insomnia:
- Disruptions in Cicardian Rhythm: Disrupted Cicardian Rhythm which might be a cause of jetlag, changes in work conditions, high altitudes, excessive exposure to noise and changes in temperature might lead to insomnia.
- Psychological Issues: People with mood disorders, mood swings, bipolar disorders, depression, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders are more likely to have insomnia.
- Medical Conditions: Various medical conditions lead to insomnia as well which include the following conditions
- Brain Lesions and Tumors
- Chronic Pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Angina Attack
- Acid-Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Asthma Attack
- Sleep Apnea
- Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Neurological Disorders
- Neuropathy Disorders
- Hormones: An excess production of hormones such asestrogen often leads to insomnia. Hormone shifts during menstruation and menopause are also leading factors for insomnia.
- Exposure to Technology: Researchers have reported that media technology in the bedroom disrupts sleep patterns in children as well as adults. It was found that children who have TVs, computers, laptops, gaming consoles, video games, DVD players and mobile phones, (especially) smart phones in their bedrooms slept comparatively less than kids without these devices in their bedrooms. In addition to that, a study that was conducted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that back-lit tablet computers can affect sleep patterns significantly. It is recommended that kids should stop watching TV an hour before their bed time. This holds true for adults as well. Adults who watch TV before bed often feel their sleep disrupted during the night.
- Other Factors: Sleeping next to a snoring partner, Sleep Apnea, parasites, genetic conditions, overactive or hyperactive state of mind and pregnancies can cause insomnia as well.
Is Insomnia a Mental Illness?
No. Insomnia is definitely not a mental disease. This is mainly because it is known as a secondary disease. Secondary diseases are diseases which are caused due to side effects of some other condition. However, this does not mean that insomnia is not a psychological disorder. There are psychological causes for insomnia, but it cannot be classifies as a mental illness.
Insomnia Treatment Methods – Can Insomnia Be Cured?
Following is a list of treatment methods which can help people suffering from insomnia. In case these do not eliminate insomnia, they might help in decreasing the severity of it.
- Sleeping Pills Prescribed By medical experts or specialists (often Benzodiazepines).
- Use Of Antidepressants
- Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
- Valerian Officinalis
- Change Of Mattress
- Healthier lifestyle which involves yoga, meditation and regular exercise.
Can High Blood Pressure Cause Insomnia?
Insomnia is somewhat associated with high blood pressure but there is no cause and effect relationship to prove it just yet. However, it has been found that people who suffer from insomnia are likely to suffer from high blood pressure. This is mostly due to the anxiety and stress they face after not having enough sleep during the day. As anxiety is directly related to sleep apnea, it can be said that blood pressure is related to insomnia indirectly.
Is it Normal? – Can healthy people suffer from it?
Yes. Insomnia is a completely normal disorder. A lot of people suffer from it without actually knowing it. However this does not mean that patients are supposed to take it lightly. At the end of the day insomnia is a sleeping disorder and proper treatment should be sought in order to avoid long term complications.