Introduction to Insomnia
Everyone, at one point or another, has experienced insomnia. It can happen occasionally, as a consequence of a stressful lifestyle, or it can be a chronic condition. An estimated 30%-50% of the general population are affected by insomnia, and 10% have chronic insomnia. In this day and age, especially because of the way of life most of people lead, it has become one of the most urgent problems to be resolved. It can seriously affect one’s life. Lack of sleep may lead to poor concentration, feeling sleepy, anxious, irritable, etc. Insomnia can sap not only one’s energy level and mood, but also their health, work performance and overall quality of life.
Insomnia is itself often a symptom of other problems, rather than being a condition on itself. Typical patterns of insomnia include the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night.
There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary insomnia. In primary insomnia, the person has sleep problems, but they are not directly linked to any other health condition. Secondary insomnia means that the sleep problem is caused by a health problem.
Also, insomnia is classified by the duration of the problem. In this classification, it can be transient (it means that the problem has lasted less than one week), short-term (it has lasted from one to three weeks) and chronic (it has lasted longer than three weeks).
There are a lot of things that can cause insomnia. Among the most harmless are: excessive noise, jet lag, stressful situations, uncomfortable room temperature, caffeine, nicotine, etc. These usually cause transient insomnia.
Other, more harmful reasons for insomnia may be schizophrenia, depression (and manic depression), anxiety, acid reflux disease, obstructive sleep apnea, brain tumors, chronic pain syndrome, some degenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, etc.), and other, serious medical conditions. It is, therefore, important that people who suffer from chronic insomnia consult a physician. He can run the necessary tests to determine the cause and treat it.
The most common symptoms of insomnia are: difficulty sleeping during the night, awakening during the night or too early, irritability, headaches, lack of concentration on daily chores, daytime fatigue and sleepiness, depression, not feeling rested after a night’s sleep, an noticeable increase of errors, etc.
If the insomnia is caused by an underlying condition, its treating should improve the insomnia symptoms, too.
One of the main reasons for insomnia is stress. To relieve stress, one should find its cause and get rid of it.
Also, there are various relaxation techniques and exercises to help one not only deal with stress, but, sleep better.
In case none of the alternative therapies work, it is always possible to talk to a doctor about taking sleeping medication. However, this is the least desirable way of treatment (because that medication is highly addictive).
There are behavior therapies that teach new sleep behaviors and ways to make one’s sleeping environment more conducive to sleep. Some studies have shown behavior therapies are equally or more effective than sleep medications.