What is Insomnia?
Commonly known to us as sleeplessness, insomnia is the problem that a huge majority of people suffer every single day. Almost every person in the US at some stage of their life suffers from severe sleeplessness, which is medically termed as insomnia.
People suffering from insomnia usually have trouble falling asleep at any time during the day but the severity is usually felt during the night. In many cases even if the patient is able to get some sleep, they are unable to stay asleep for a long period of time.
Most of the patients are unable to function properly in daily life because they feel drowsy, tired and disoriented due to lack of proper sleep. If a person is suffering from insomnia for a period of less than a week, it is categorized as acute insomnia. If the condition lasts more than three months and the patient is unable to sleep properly at least 3 nights every week than they might be suffering from chronic insomnia.
What Are Common Types of Insomnia Disorder?
There are five different types of insomnia. Listed below are these five types and their basic description so that everyone can understand. If you need any further information please try to get in touch with a specialist doctor.
If a patient is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep due to stress or any other issue and it lasts for a few days then it will be categorized as acute insomnia. Usually, people suffer from acute insomnia when they are facing issues or stressful situations in their lives. In most cases, patients don’t even need treatment for acute insomnia it just goes away within a few days as a patient’s life comes to normal.
If a patient has been constantly experiencing issues with sleeping for a minimum period of three months, there is a possibility they are suffering from chronic insomnia. During this three months period, a patient should suffer from sleeping issues a minimum three days every week. The best way to detect chronic insomnia is to have a sleep chart to see how much sleep a patient is able to get every day.
If a patient is having trouble at the beginning of the night or whenever they are trying to sleep, they might be suffering from onset insomnia. This isn’t a serious type of insomnia and can easily be treated by making simple lifestyle changes.
Maintenance insomnia is a patient’s inability to stay asleep through the night or for an appropriate period of time. Patients suffering from maintenance insomnia from sleep and after that have trouble falling asleep. In most cases, maintenance insomnia comes coupled with another type of insomnia.
This insomnia is caused by another health condition. This can be caused by anxiety, depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Obesity, back pain, arthritis, cancer or any other health condition that keeps the patient awake.
What Causes Insomnia?
In most cases, patients suffer from insomnia when they are going through life-altering situations. Situations that stress them out causing anxiety or depression. While on the other hand things such as change of mattress, room, bed, lighting or anything related to the sleeping environment can also cause insomnia.
The majority of people suffering from chronic insomnia are also patients of anxiety or depression. So whenever doctors are treating a patient for insomnia, they also do tests to check if the patient is also suffering from anxiety or depression. Usually treating these health conditions in many cases automatically treats insomnia.
What Are Signs & Symptoms of Insomnia?
Insomnia is a really simple health condition when it comes to detecting signs and symptoms. If someone is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep they are suffering from insomnia. The next part of detecting the underlying cause of insomnia can be a bit tricky and hard. Most of the patients feel tired, drowsy, weak, fatigued, angry, or have trouble concentrating on things. Forgetfulness is also a big problem for people suffering from insomnia.
How Is Insomnia Diagnosed?
Note: If you have doubts that you are suffering from insomnia, please don’t diagnose or start treatment on your own. Make an appointment with a doctor to get a complete diagnosis and correct treatment.
In order to properly diagnose insomnia doctors will first conduct a complete physical exam. After that, they will check the complete medical history of the patient to check for any past traumas or other health issues. In most cases, the patients are asked to record their sleep patterns for a few days so that doctors can have a better idea of the severity of insomnia. There are special sleep centers all over the US, where a patient might need to get tested.
In some cases, patients are referred to physiotherapists who talk to the patients to get a better understanding of what’s happening in their personal lives. Usually, events happening in a patient’s personal life are responsible for causing anxiety or depression which in return cause anxiety.
How Is Insomnia Treated?
There is no sure shot method or treatment for insomnia. Usually, doctors perform an in-depth analysis of the patients, after which they select an appropriate treatment. Like most of the mental health issues, there are two options for insomnia treatment, therapeutic and medicinal.
Treating Insomnia With Medicine
There are many different medications that can treat insomnia. These medications are known as sleep aids or sleeping pills. Almost every American is aware of one or more sleeping pills. Most of the sleeping pills are made to alter the chemicals in the brain to induce sleep. Usually, these drugs suppress the activity of neurotransmitters to calm the brain which in return assist with sleep.
Treating Insomnia With Therapy
The best therapeutic treatment for insomnia is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). CBT usually helps people to put get all their thoughts out to the therapists. In return, the therapist tries to help them get over the thoughts or things that are causing insomnia. Therapy should always be the first option for insomnia treatment as most of the medicinal treatments have serious side effects.
Within CBT there are many different strategies that therapists use to properly treat insomnia. Listed below are some of the commonly used strategies.
SCT (Stimulus Control Therapy)
This method helps remove thoughts and other things in the mind that stop patients from falling sleep. Patients are usually coached to think less when in bed which helps them in falling asleep.
This technique helps reduce anxiety at bedtime. Usually, yoga is a great option to help patients relax before sleep. There are many breathing exercises that also help in relaxing the brain which in return helps with sleep.
In this therapy, the patients are asked to decrease the time they spend in bed. They are also asked to avoid any extra naps or sleep breaks during the day. After making these changes patients usually feel more tired and sleepy when they go to bed, which helps them fall asleep and stay asleep.
In this therapy, light is used to alter the internal clock of the human body to adjust the daily sleep cycle. Usually, doctors will recommend the natural sunlight or a lightbox for proper light treatment.
These are few of the common therapies, patients can always consult their therapists for other available options.
How To Manage Symptoms of Insomnia?
There are many different things that a patient can do to manage insomnia and decrease its impact on their lives. The first thing that a person should do is create a sleep timetable. Set a specific time to go to sleep every night and set an alarm to wake up at the same time every day.
Cutting out drinks that contain alcohol or a high concentration of sugar also relaxes the brain and assists with sleep. Apart from that cutting out caffeine-rich drinks such as tea, coffee. Energy drinks and other stuff also helps.
Taking a healthy diet free of oily and processed foods also helps the body in regulating the chemicals present in the brain. Apart from everything else, exercise has proven to be the best remedy for insomnia. After exercising the body gets tired and falling asleep while tired is easy.
Decreasing screen time helps a lot. Most of the people nowadays spend most of their time in from of the TV, laptop, computer or TV screens. The rays from these screens can affect the sleep cycle. Decreasing screen time and avoiding mobile usage in bed can help many people get better sleep.
Does Insomnia Affect Everyday Life?
Insomnia is as bad for everyday life as chronic anxiety or depression. Most of the people suffering from insomnia are patients of anxiety or depression. As a combination, these health conditions can make the lives of patients miserable.
Patients are unable to think and do things as desired when they don’t get proper sleep. Usually, people forget stuff that they needed to remember. Everything else aside, insomnia patients feel tired all the time. Usually, patients are good enough to half the work as compared to normal people. So never leave insomnia untreated. Seek help from a professional as soon as possible because insomnia is treatable.