In any given year, thirty to forty percent of adults will suffer from insomnia. Moreover, about half of us will encounter the disorder at one point in our lives. Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall and/or maintain sleep.
There are three general types of insomnia:
- Transient/acute insomnia
- Short term insomnia
- Chronic insomnia.
Transient insomnia usually lasts less than one week, short term insomnia usually lasts between one to three weeks, and chronic insomnia lasts longer than three weeks.
Causes of Insomnia
There are several different causes of insomnia.
Generally, transient insomnia and short term insomnia are caused by:
- Stressful events
- Changes in the environment
- Time zone changes
- Changes in shift work
- Jet lag
- Excessive or unpleasant noise
- Uncomfortable temperatures
- Presence of another medical condition in which insomnia is a symptom of
- Withdrawal from drugs, alcohol, sedatives, or stimulants found in medication.
Chronic insomnia is typically caused by underlying psychiatric and medical conditions. Psychiatric conditions that can trigger insomnia include:
- Bipolar disease/mania
Chronic insomnia may possibly be an indicator of depression; in fact aside from other secondary causes of insomnia, anxiety and depression are the most common causes of insomnia.
Medical conditions that can initiate insomnia include:
- Chronic pain syndrome
- Congestive heart failure
- Nocturnal angina from heart disease
- acid reflux (GERD)
- Nocturnal asthma
- Obstructive sleep angina
- Degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers
- Brain tumors or trauma to the brain.
Furthermore, certain medications and stimulants can also lead to insomnia. Some over-the-counter and prescribed cold and asthma medications contain stimulants which can instigate insomnia. Also a number of high blood pressure medications were sourced to poor sleep; medications treating anxiety, depression and schizophrenia have also been associated with insomnia. Stimulants which are suspected to cause insomnia include caffeine and nicotine. It is recommended that sufferers of insomnia do not consume any of these stimulants around bedtime hours and to limit their daily intake of nicotine and caffeine.
Another cause of insomnia is the consumption of alcohol. Although alcohol is sometimes used to induce sleep the reality is that alcohol is associated with sleep disruption, and can create a sense of non refreshing sleep even after hours of sleep (misperception of sleep). Lastly, a partner who snores loudly and/or has periodic limb movement disorder can disrupt sleep and cause insomnia.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Symptoms of insomnia include:
- Not being able to fall asleep and/or maintain sleep
- Waking early in the morning and not being able to fall asleep once more
- Experiencing poor quality sleep
- Not feeling refreshed or rested after hours of sleep (misperception of sleep
During the day one may feel:
- Unable to concentrate or focus
- Have frequent headaches
- Experience difficulty with memory
- Suffer from irritability
- Maintain impaired motor coordination
- Be unable to interact socially
- Sleep deprived drivers are at risk for motor vehicle accidents.
Symptoms may actually worsen if insomniacs attempt to self treat themselves with over-the-counter sleep aids or alcohol. Many people suffering from insomnia are unable to initiate sleep when intentionally taking a nap during the day.
Insomnia Treatment/Cure Insomnia
To treat insomnia, it is vital to identify the cause of it. Once the trigger is identified, insomnia may be eliminated by treating the cause. Merely treating the symptoms of insomnia will not be helpful in treating the sleeping disorder itself because that would be a temporary fix and would not cure insomnia. In the majority of cases, chronic cases of insomnia are cured when underlying medical and psychological problems are treated properly.
There are both medical and non medical therapies available to treat insomnia, however studies show that therapies involving both medical and non medical usually have higher success rates than therapies based on only one or the other.
Non medical therapies involve:
- Sleep hygiene
- Relaxation therapy
- Stimulus control
- Sleep restriction.
These therapies are referred to as cognitive behavioral therapies.
Medical therapies involve prescribing medication to patients, although it is advised that patients should not be using only medical therapy to treat their insomnia. Medications commonly prescribed to treat insomnia include:
- Nonbenzodiazepine sedatives (Lunesta, Ambien, and Sonata)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives (Restoril, Dalmane, Halcion, ProSom, Ativan, and Klonopin)
- Ramalteon (Rozerem)
- Certain antidepressants (Elavil)
The majority of these prescription drugs are classified as narcotics and therefore not available on Online Pharmacies Canada
Who’s At Risk?
- Menopausal and pregnant women
- Young adult students
- Shift workers with frequent shift changes
- People who abuse drugs and/or alcohol