Insomnia, also known as sleeplessness, is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard for the person to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or cause to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. Insomnia is typically followed by daytime sleepiness, low energy, irritability and a depressed mood. It may result in an increased risk of motor vehicle collisions, as well as problems focusing and learning. How much sleep is enough varies from person to person, but most adults need seven to eight hours a night. Insomnia can occur independently or as a result of some another problem. Conditions that can result in insomnia include psychological stress, chronic pain, heart failure, hyperthyroidism, heart burn, menopause, certain medications and drugs such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Other risk factors include working night shifts and sleep apnea.
Insomnia symptoms may include:-
- difficulty falling asleep at night.
- waking up during the night.
- waking up too early.
- not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep.
- daytime tiredness or sleepiness.
- irritability, depression or anxiety.
- difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering.
- ongoing worries about sleep.
Insomnia may be the primary problem or it may be associated with other conditions. Chronic Insomnia is usually a result of stress, life events or habits that disrupt sleep. Treating the underlying cause can resolve the insomnia, but sometimes it can last for years. Chronic Insomnia may also be associated with medical conditions or the use of certain drugs. Common causes of chronic insomnia include:-
- Stress- concerns about work, school, health, finances, family can keep the mind active and occupied every time, making it difficult to sleep.
- Travel or work schedule- the circadian rhythms of our body act as an internal clock, guiding such things as the sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and body temperature. Disrupting the body’s circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia.
- poor sleep habits- include an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, watching smart phones or other screens.
- eating too much late in the evening- may cause the person to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. Many people also experience heartburn, a backflow of acid and food from the stomach into the esophagus after eating, which may keep them awake.
Additional causes of Insomnia include:-
- Mental health disorders- anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder may also be the reason for disruption during sleep. Awakening too early can be a sign of depression.
- Medications- many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep such as certain antidepressants.
- Medical conditions- such as chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD) etc.
- sleep related disorders.
- caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Good sleep habits can help prevent insomnia and promote sound sleep:-
- keep the bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day.
- staying active- regular activities help to promote a good sleep.
- check the medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
- avoid or limit naps.
- avoid or limit caffeine and alcohols.
- keep yourself calm and relaxed when going to sleep.