Sleep Disorder: When Insomnia Strikes!
Had you been tossing and turning in your bed at night but never able to get some sleep? Ever experienced being sleepy yet you can’t get that shot-eye? Is your brain active at night when everyone else’s had already shut off? Had you stayed up all night long only to realized that the sun is already rising yet you had never really gone to sleep? You did get to sleep but you get up in the middle of the night only to not fall back to sleep? Or you got your enough sleep but you still feel restless, unsatisfied or not refreshed? Does it happen constantly? Ever reached a point wherein it just got so annoying that it makes you want to cry? That my friend is what we call insomnia.
Technically, insomnia, literally no sleep in Latin translation, is not a disease rather, it is a sleep disorder or at times symptom. It is characterized as the persistent difficulty or inability in falling asleep or staying asleep which may, or may not, result into tiredness, negative mood, haziness, slower brain function, and incoordination of body response. This is predominant in women and older adults.
It may fall in any of the following behavior:
- Problem in falling into sleeping.
- Restless sleep that may either result to abnormally short sleeping time, frequently waking up in the middle of the sleep, or simply staying awake for a relative period in the middle of the night.
- Cannot return back asleep no matter how short the sleep was.
This is a very common complaint amongst people and almost everyone had claimed to have experienced this. However, it is important to note that insomnia is not sleep deprivation nor is it an occasional sleeping problem, which happens to everyone at one point in time.
Categories of Insomnia
Insomnia have 2 – 11 categories but in general, we can put them into the 3 categories below.
- Transient Insomnia – occurring for one week or about 1 or 2 nights for a few weeks.
- Acute Insomnia – occurring between one week to one month
- Chronic Insomnia - occurring more than one month
Although bad for the health, afterall, sleep is essential, not all insomnia problems need diagnosis or medical attention. Only those diagnosed as chronic insomnia are advised to seek professional help or at least take a self-help therapy.
Types of Insomnia
Depending on which category one falls into, insomnia may be classified into:
- Secondary insomnia – due to a physical or mental factors like stress, conflicts, excitement, change of environment, asthma and drugs or substances amongst many others. This is the case for transient and acute insomnia. This may also be the case for chronic insomnias however, this only happens if the patient seeks no treatment after identifying the underlying cause during the early stage of insomnia or the illness that cause it is severe.
- Primary insomnia – the cause is unknown as this is not directly linked to any specific condition, it is more like a behavioral matter. This is the case for acute and more so on chronic insomnias.
- Idiopathic insomnia – though it can be placed under primary insomnia, this one is for those long-time chronic insomniacs who’d experienced insomnia as early as the time of birth to childhood stage. Unlike primary insomnia, this has no identifiable medical cause and for that matter, no known medical cure. However, this does not mean that its entirely untreatable (read more in The Late Night Zombie Diary: How I Cope with Chronic-Idiopathic Insomnia).
Causes of Insomnia
As identified above, insomnia may or may not have a definite cause. For transient insomnia, the cause is temporary and will go away immediately. Same may be the case for acute insomnia as well but the period of time is longer, may take weeks, But this may not be the case for chronic insomnia, which in most cases has no definitive cause or might be comorbid (existing alongside) with another condition.
There are a lot of factors that may have triggered insomnia, these may be physical, psychological, environmental, and dietary or physiological factors.
- Health problems
- Hormonal problems
- Body ache
- Sleep apnea
- Behavior over insomnia
- New environment (sleeping or lifestyle)
- Work Schedule
Dietary or Physiological Factors
- Food intake
- Drugs and substance
- SSRI antidepressants
- ACE inhibitors
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
- H1 antagonists
Treatment for Insomnia
Transient insomnias don’t need any treatment as it will go away immediately. However, if sleep is desperately needed, one can intake over-the-counter sleeping pills. Other than that, transient insomniacs need not worry too much.
Chronic insomniacs, on the hand, are the only ones who are in need of professional help. However, it doesn’t mean that there is no self-treatment that you can try, whether acute or chronic insomnia. This self-treatment are actions or rituals, no matter how mundane it may seem, that you can take to condition your mind and body before sleeping. The following actions are some that you do on your own.
- Do not worry or think about sleeping or no being able to at all.
- The bed (or bedroom) is only for sleeping and sex, this is to condition your mind to associate the bed for its purpose.
- Relax and empty your mind of all your problems before going to bed.
- Do not force yourself to sleep or you’ll get more frustrated.
- If not yet sleepy, do not lie in bed for more than 20 minutes, do something until you feel like going to sleep.
- Find your most comfortable sleeping position.
- Lay on the most comfortable mattress.
- If laying still can’t immediately put you to sleep, find something that can without the need of leaving the bed. Its like a ritual that will slowly put your mind to sleep. You can listen to music, play games in your phone, watching tv or read (I do this via my phone).
- Drink a glass of warm milk or eat rich in protein food because the amino acids found in both of these help induce sleep.
- Take a bath, massage, or anything that can help you relax or feel rejuvenated.
- Establish a sleeping pattern like what time to go to bed but do not force sleep.
- Ensure that your sleeping environment is conducive for you.
- Avoid naps.
- No heavy meals at least 3 hours before sleep.
- No drinking of caffeine or alcohol 3-6 hours before going to bed.
- No nicotine intake.
- No exercise or exhausting activity (except sex) 2 hours before going to bed.
- Do not use the computer an hour before going to bed.
- Dress as comfortable as possible. Know whether you prefer a pair of pajama, shorts, or duster when sleeping.
- Think totally boring staff while laying like counting sheep.
- Use sleep mask and earplugs if you’re sensitive to light and sounds, respectively.
- Do not take unnecessary medications.
It is very important to note that:
- The above are treatment for insomnia, not to prolong your sleeping hours. Adequate sleeping hours may vary from one person to another.
- What works for others may not work for you. So self-treatment is more like trial and error. If it doesn’t work, move on and try another one.
- Taking one action above may not be enough, most of the times it takes more than five sleeping conditions before your body responds to the stimuli.
- Sleeping pills are only for transient insomniacs. Unless prescribed by the doctor, some brands, if not all maybe, are actually ineffective for chronic insomniacs.
- The treatment is not a one-time only action. Note whatever worked for you and make it an everyday habit to follow all these conditions. It may take weeks to months before your body will get accustomed to a sleeping schedule without needing the stimuli.
- You may or may not be 100% cured from insomnia but when you experience it at some nights it is not as pertinent as before.
- If none of the self-treatment works, consult a doctor.
DUMB and GENIUS hopes you enjoyed your time here ^-^
- Sleep – insomnia
- An Overview of Insomnia
- Insomnia Means More Than A Bad Night’s Sleep
- Insomnia: Sleep Disorder
- Disorders & Treatments: Insomnia
- Can’t Sleep? What To Know About Insomnia
- Insomnia Categories
- The 3 Types of Insomnia
- What is insomnia?
- Insomnia: When You Just Can’t Sleep
- Idiopathic Insomnia — What Does It Mean and How Can You Deal With It?
- 10 Types of Meds That Can Cause Insomnia
- Does Insomnia Always Have an Underlying ‘Cause’?
- Does Counting Sheep Work? Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
- Prescription sleeping pills: What’s right for you?
- Insomnia Impairs Emotional Regulation (psychologytoday.com)
- Sleep Disorder (dekbeddencom.wordpress.com)
- How Sleep Disorders Can Affect Your Life (jitendravaswani.wordpress.com)
- Insomnia (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Valerian Dreams – A Natural Help For Insomnia (healthymindonline.com)
- Why You Should Never Ignore Insomnia (insomnialiving.wordpress.com)
- Insomnia and Depression: Is insomnia making your depression worse and keeping you from getting better? (insomniacolorado.com)
- My Eyes Never Close: Insomnia pt 1 (derochedecibel.wordpress.com)
- After Military Deployment, Pre-existing Insomnia Linked to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (medindia.net)
- 20 Best Natural Sleep Tips for Insomnia (omtimes.com)