What do you mean by insomnia?
Difficulty in sleeping or inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep long enough to feel rested, especially when this is a problem that continues over time.
It is also explained as:
· Inability to sleep,
· Over a period of time;
· Difficulty initiating sleep;
· Difficulty maintaining sleep;
· Early morning awakening;
· Non Restorative sleep.
Types of Insomnia:
- Transient Insomnia (short term),
- Intermittent Insomnia (on and off),
- Chronic Insomnia (constant).
Insomnia lasting from a single night to a few weeks is referred to as transient. Temporary insomnia (transient insomnia) usually is due to situational changes, such as travel and stressful events. It lasts for less than a week or until the stressful event is resolved. Short-term insomnia lasts for 1-3 weeks,
If episodes of transient insomnia occur from time to time, the insomnia is said to be intermittent.
Insomnia is considered to be chronic if it occurs on most nights and lasts a month or more. Chronic insomnia continues for more than 3 weeks.
Insomnia may also be classified into:
- Primary insomnia-
It occurs in the absence of other medical problems
- Secondary insomnia
It occurs as a result of a medical condition such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn, etc. causing wakefulness.
Who suffer from Insomnia?
Insomnia is found in males and females of all age groups, although it seems to be more common in females (especially after menopause) and in the elderly. The ability to sleep, rather than the need for sleep, appears to decrease with advancing age.
What are the causes of Insomnia?
- Advanced age (insomnia occurs more frequently in those over age 60); the melatonin – a chemical that is needed in order to induce sleep, decreases and, at the age of sixty, very little is produced by our bodies. Without the presence of this chemical, the amount of sleep that the body receives diminishes. This may either mean rising earlier in the morning or the inability to sleep at night.
- Female gender affected most; Women tend to be the victims of insomnia more often than their male counterparts. This is partially due to the fact that hormonal changes which are intrinsic to females can bring about this particular condition. These changes may include PMS, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Any number of things can happen when an influx or decrease of hormones takes place in the body, and insomnia is one of the more common side effects
- A history of depression.
- Stress, anxiety.
- A medical problem or the use of certain medications occur along with the above conditions, insomnia is more likely.
- Various medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, allergies, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson’s disease.
- Physical disorder- congestive cardiac failure, pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, nocturnal asthma and nocturnal seizures.
- Painful or uncomfortable syndromes- toothache, arthritis and restless legs syndrome.
- Difficulty in initiating sleep may be due to psychiatric illness such as; anxiety, phobia, schizophrenia and depression.
- Drugs withdrawals such as caffeine, antidepressant, beta blockers, alcohol, sympathomimetics and hypnotics.
- Reversal of sleep rhythm, seen in jet-lag, head injury, encephalitis, sedative misuse, irregular night shift work.
- Nocturnal enuresis [bed wetting in the children], sleep walking, taking while asleep and night terrors can cause sleep disturbance in children.
- Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation (pause of breathing, airflow) during sleep and may cause sleeplessness.
- The predisposition to insomnia tends to run in family lines. It is believed that genetics play some role in whether or not a person will suffer from this illness; which is unknown to the medical community
- Transient and intermittent insomnia generally occur in people who are temporarily experiencing one or more of the following- stress, environmental noise, extreme temperatures, a change in the surrounding environment, sleep/wake schedule problems such as those due to jet lag, or medication side effects.
What are symptoms of insomnia?
Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets or how long it takes to fall asleep. Individuals vary normally in their need for, and their satisfaction with, sleep. Insomnia may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
Insomnia patients generally complain of:
- Inadequate or poor-quality sleep.
- Difficulty falling asleep; early wakening, waking frequently during the night, un-refreshing sleep, or a combination of these.
- Waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep.
- Waking up too early in the morning.
- Persons without adequate sleep can experience tiredness, lack of energy, and concentration problems.
How insomnia is diagnosed?
Patients with insomnia are evaluated with the help of a medical history and a sleep history. Specialized sleep studies may be recommended in Secondary insomnia, to find the medical condition.