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Insomnia Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

By Born Tough on

1. What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition in which you have difficulty sleeping regularly. It normally improves with a change in sleeping patterns. The majority of people have sleep issues at some point in their lives.

Insomnia is a common sleep condition that affects up to 35% of individuals. It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying awake all night, and sleeping through the morning. It can have major consequences, such as drowsiness during the day, an increased risk of car accidents, and huge health problems from sleep deprivation.

It's usually not difficult to figure out whether you have insomnia. Most of the time, you'll be aware if you're not sleeping well. According to Meskill.

"Most people come to see me already knowing what their diagnosis is."

Causes of insomnia can vary from person to person depending on their lifestyle or routine.

2. Root Causes of Insomnia

Some of the most common causes of insomnia include stress, poor sleep schedule, and irregular sleep cycle. The major reasons behind the cause of insomnia include mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, stressed muscles, medical conditions, etc. A combination of these factors can cause or worsen insomnia among people.

Insomnia is thought to be characterized by a condition of hyperarousal that prevents people from falling or staying asleep. Hyperarousal (state of anxiety) can be mental or physical, and can be causeed by a variety of situations and medical conditions.

Insomnia can affect both men and women but it occurs more often among women than in men, especially at old age. However, it is common among teens too. An estimate of 23.8% of teens are affected by insomnia due to having an irregular sleep schedule.

Even if they are sleeping late, they still require an average of nine hours of sleep per night. Because most teenagers have to get up early for school, it is critical that they get enough sleep.

Root Causes of Insomnia

2.1. Two Common Factors of Causing Insomnia

Insomnia can be a long term condition if not taken care of in the early stages.

There are two main factors of insomnia:

  • Primary factors of causing insomnia
  • Secondary factors of causing insomnia

Primary factors:

  • Stress or fatigue (personal matters, workload, etc.)
  • Change of environment (place, noise, weather, etc.)
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • Genes (insomnia may run in families)

Secondary factors:

  • Mental health issues
  • Too much intake of caffeine, alcohol and illicit drugs
  • Medications (as per health issues)
  • Pregnancy
  • Periods or menopause

Two Common Factors of Causing Insomnia

2.2. Symptoms and Complication

Insomnia symptoms can begin at any age which can result in the following conditions:

  • Sleep deprivation
  •  Fatigue or sleepiness during the day
  • Irritability, sadness, and anxiety
  • Panic attacks that are unusual
  • Problems that people face at work, school, and in their personal lives.

Insomnia complications include poor immune system, psychological complications, risks of illness, etc.

2.3. Immune system:

The immune system requires sleep to function properly. Getting enough sleep allows for a well-balanced immune system, including robust, innate, and adaptive immune responses, an efficient vaccine response, and less severe allergy reactions.

2.4. Psychological complications include:

  • High risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Poor performance and slowed focusing on tasks.
  • Struggling remembering.

2.5. Physical Illness:

Insomnia can affect you both physically and mentally depending on the conditions. People suffering from insomnia tend to have a lower quality of life when compared to people with a stable sleep cycle.

3. Types of Insomnia:

Specifically, there are two types of insomnia:

  • Acute Insomnia
  • Chronic Insomnia

Acute Insomnia: Acute insomnia is also referred to as short-term insomnia. It can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It's the most frequent form of sleep deprivation. Acute insomnia often occurs when you are confronted with a stressful situation like going through a tough phase of life, personal struggles, etc.

Chronic Insomnia: Chronic insomnia, also known as long-term pattern of discomfort in sleeping. It can last for a few weeks to years depending on the diagnosis. Chronic insomnia can be either primary or secondary. Common causes of chronic insomnia include medical conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, mental conditions, etc.

If insomnia is affecting your ability to function during the day, consult your doctor to determine the source of your sleep problem and how to cure it.

4. Diagnosis and Tests:

You've been having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep all night. Your symptoms appear to hint to insomnia, but the only way to be sure is to seek medical help.

  1. Examination of the body: If the cause of your sleeplessness is unknown, your doctor may conduct a physical examination to check for evidence of medical issues that could be linked to insomnia. A blood test may be performed on occasion to screen for thyroid disorders or other illnesses that are linked to poor sleep.
  2. Examine your sleeping habits: Your doctor may ask you to complete a questionnaire to determine your sleep-wake pattern and level of daytime sleepiness, in addition to asking you sleep-related questions or requesting you to keep a sleep journal for a few weeks.
  3. Results: If the cause of your insomnia isn't apparent, or you're showing signs of another sleep-related problem like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, you might need to spend the night at the clinic. A number of body functions related to insomnia include:
    • Brain waves
    • Respiration
    • Heartbeat
    • Eye movements
    • Body movements

Medical issues, as well as your pre-bedtime routines, can have an impact on your sleeping habits. Finding out what's causing your insomnia and the best method to treat it can take a few visits and more than one doctor.

5. Treatment

Focusing on your habits, routines, sleeping environment, and mattress might help you sleep better. This is referred to as sleep hygiene, and even simple things like sticking to a consistent sleep schedule and not using cell phones in bed will help you get a decent night's sleep.

  • If you're having trouble doing ordinary tasks due to exhaustion, your doctor may prescribe sleeping drugs for a limited duration. Medicines that work rapidly but only for a short time can help you avoid difficulties the next day, such as drowsiness, minor fatigue, etc.
  • For people with severe insomnia, tried-and-true sleep hygiene measures such as maintaining consistent waking and sleeping schedules, limiting stimulating activities before bed, and turning off electronic gadgets 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime frequently aid, if not fully eliminate, sleep problems. These are the same measures that are recommended to prevent insomnia. These approaches aren't as effective in reversing sleep issues once they've become chronic, but they're still suggested to keep insomnia from getting worse.
  • Get physical therapy such as massages, strength exercises, and stretches.
  • Go to the doctor and get examined both mentally and physically. Get a proper diagnosis for proper medication and better results.

Treatment

6. Prevention:

Stress and anxiety are the root causes of insomnia. If the things you do before going to bed makes you feel anxious or disturbs your mental peace, you need to avoid such activities to lessen the chances of insomnia.

The optimal strategy will vary depending on the underlying reason and type of insomnia, however, here are a few possibilities:

  • Stable sleep cycle
  • Regular physical activity
  • Limit caffeine/alcohol intake
  • Prescription drugs
  • Counseling
  • Avoid eating heavy meals at night before going to bed
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Healthy diet
  • Meditate

Sleep deprivation can cause a number of issues, ranging from minor exhaustion to chronic sickness.

If you're having trouble sleeping, don't hesitate to get assistance from your doctor. They might be able to provide you advice on how to deal with issues that make it difficult for you to sleep. Many people who suffer from insomnia find that modifying their diet, lifestyle, and nightly routines helps them to sleep better.

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