Insomnia can cost you health and success in life. It has the power to make you weak. Learn what it is and how to overcome it.
Insomnia is inability to fall asleep and stay asleep evoked by a variety of factors. This sleep disorder has many causes and two major forms. Learning what is insomnia, its causes, symptoms and treatment could help you bring your life back to normal.
What is insomnia: two types of insomnia
There are two different approaches used to differentiate the types of insomnia. One of them is based on the duration of this condition and the other one on its causes.
What is insomnia: chronic vs. acute insomnia
is a condition that lasts over 3 months.
During this period of time a person has a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep or they experience dissatisfaction with the quality of their sleep.
lasts of several days or weeks in a row. It can be evoked by stress or other factors of life. The symptoms are similar to those of chronic condition.
Primary sleeplessness is not related to any medical condition or illness. It is more of a lifestyle thing. On the other hand secondary one is caused by some other disorder and is a concomitant condition.
Causes of insomnia
Learning what is insomnia, we should pay special attention to its causes. They can be divided into two categories:
Poor life/work balance
Even if you do work many long hours a day, try not to plan any work for the late hours. You should not go to sleep right after your work. Your body and mind need some time to relax and shift into the rest mode.
It’s a good idea to take a bath or warm relaxing shower before you go to bed. Turn off all your devices, such as cellphone and computer. Do not check your email or news before the bed time. These things could get you worried or excited when you need to relax and calm down instead.
When a person experiences stress, their bodies produce high level of cortisol. This is a stress and action hormone. It affects your muscles and makes them strained and ready for action. It’s the last thing you need before the night’s sleep.
That is why people, who do not know how to manage their stress and relieve it, have trouble falling asleep. They simply cannot relax their muscles and change the mode they are operating in.
Poor sleeping habits
One may tend to fall asleep watching TV or at the computer. Or, they may have lack of fresh air in the bedroom, heat, uncomfortable bed, synthetic linens, and even wrong sleep position. Yes, you need to teach yourself how to sleep right. Not all the sleep positions are good for you.
Some of them may lead to insomnia. The ideal position is on the right side with your neck in the horizontal position to the bed (i.e. you need the right size pillow). Your legs should be slightly bent in knees with the top leg moved a little forward, so it would not press down the other leg. This way your body has ideal position and blood circulation. All your limbs can relax and you can get a good night rest.
Another poor sleeping habit is related to the time you go to bed. Some people get to bed on a different hour every night. This could lead to insomnia. The better habit is to schedule your bed time and maintain a regimen.
What you eat or drink can greatly affect how you sleep. Maybe you drink too much coffee or tea. Or abuse alcohol and smoke. All these things stimulate your body and get it ready to stay awake and active.
Eating heavy, fatty or sweet food is also a bad idea, especially few hours before the bedtime.
These foods can cause your stomach work hard all night, or which is worse, stop functioning and the food just starts rotting.
Some of them affect the sleep and may lead to insomnia. Check out with your doctor to help you cope with the side effects of such drugs.
Such things as apnea, chronic pain, heart diseases, heartburn, etc. may lead to insomnia.
Insomnia risk factors
- Age (60+ years of age)
- High level of stress
- Travelling and time zone change
- Rapid work schedule change
- Depression and mental health disorders
- Night shifts at work
Treatment of insomnia
The treatment of this condition can be prescribed only once you know what causes insomnia. There are two types of basic treatment for insomnia. They are based on the causes of sleeplessness. If it is caused by lifestyle, then the cure would be to correct it and get rid of them. Medical causes require medical treatment.
- Tracing sleep history
Get yourself a notebook and records such things as time you go to bed and wake up. Also note the time it takes you to fall asleep, number of times you wake up during the night.
As well as, your level of sleepiness during the day, your level of energy throughout the day, etc. Just keep track of things to help you cope with the problem.
There are many relaxation methods out there. You can master proper relaxation breathing to help you fall asleep. Or you can train your mind to relax all the muscles of your body to help you do that. You may listen to soft music or nature sounds, take aroma bath with candles, read a good book. Just learn what assists you in relaxing and start practicing it.
Try to schedule your activities in such a fashion that you would go to bed and wake up on certain hours of night and morning. Follow this regimen even on the weekends. This way you train your body and make it easier for it to relax and fall asleep.
These drugs help your body to calm down and prepare itself for falling asleep. In over 95 percent of insomnia cases people get these drugs prescribed to them.
(Psychoactive drugs) They also cause sedative effect, enhancing natural bodily processes and reaction. However, these drugs can evoke dependence and they should be only used, when prescribed by the doctor.
Consequences of insomnia
Now you can answer what is insomnia question. However, do you know the consequences it can produce? Some of them are pretty grave. They can significantly lower the quality of your life and your ability to enjoy it.
10 surprising effects of insomnia:
- Low sexual potency in men
- Anxiety and depression
- Accidents (on the road and in life)
- Slow reaction
- Development of various diseases (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and strokes just to name a few)
- Aged look of your skin
- Putting on extra pounds
- Impaired judgment
How to diagnose insomnia
There are several methods that can be applied. One of them is monitoring your sleep habits and activities. Another one is PSG (polysomnogram). It is performed at hospitals, where you stay overnight and your brain activities get monitored during the sleep phases. It helps to figure out why you feel fatigue after having a nap. Another method is running some blood tests. They can help you discover any health reflated problems.
Obviously, if this condition is related to medical problems, those primary diseases have to be treated first to cure you of the secondary insomnia. This is how you prevent it. However, if you are dealing with a lifestyle problem, then you can try and fix it on your own.
In fact, the research shows that life therapy can be much more productive in curing or preventing insomnia than the drug ones. Pay attention to your schedule.
Plan your sleep and pre-sleep time. Eat and drink healthy. Reduce the level of stress or learn relaxing and relieving it timely. These are the best ways to prevent such a sleep disorder.
When to consult a doctor?
How do you know when your insomnia has to be taken seriously and you need to pay a visit to your doctor? Regularity of symptoms and reoccurring problems is the key. Of you have a hard time falling asleep night after night for couple of weeks, it’s time to see your doctor. Experiencing constant fatigue and sleepiness throughout the day is another reason to do so.
So, what is insomnia? It is not just a problem, but rather is a medical condition, a sleep disorder. In some cases it can be corrected by you changing habits. In other cases it is just a symptom of a more serious disease that has to be treated with medical means. Watch this video to learn more: