We know sleep plays a vital role in our health and happiness and it is critical we understand what is preventing us from getting the refreshing and revitalising sleep that we so desperately need every single night. Insomnia is said to be present when you regularly find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. You may have trouble getting to sleep initially, or if you can fall asleep, you might not be able to stay asleep.
Primary and Secondary Insomnia
There are commonly two types of Insomnia, Primary Insomnia which means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem and Secondary Insomnia which means that a person is having sleep problems because of another condition like asthma, depression, arthritis or some other ailment.
Acute and Chronic Insomnia
Insomnia varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. If it is short-term it is referred to as Acute Insomnia whilst long-term is known as Chronic Insomnia. Acute can last from one night to a few weeks whilst chronic usually affects a person at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
The Causes of Insomnia
- Medication and Drugs: Prescription medication, caffeine, alcohol or smoking
- Chronic pain and other uncomfortable illnesses
- Mental Illness: Depression, anxiety, chronic worrying
- Emotional or physical discomfort
- Environmental factors: Noise, light, or extreme temperatures
- Lifestyle: Working night shift or jet lag.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Older people who are in poor health have a higher risk of suffering from Insomnia. Surprisingly, women have twice the rates of Insomnia when compared to men. Shift workers are more at risk of suffering from Insomnia due to their changing sleeping patterns.
Symptoms of Insomnia
- Sleepiness during the day
- General tiredness
- Problems with concentration or memory
Treatments for Insomnia
The treatments for Insomnia vary greatly depending on the causes of the particular case. In many cases Insomnia can be treated by implementing some healthy sleep habits, like limiting alcohol and caffeine use, implementing a regular sleeping pattern and limiting noise and light for a more conducive sleeping environment.
If your sleep habits are healthy but you are still having problems then there are a range of more specialised treatments. Cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia has been shown to be effective in the medium and long term treatment of sufferers. Meditation and mindfulness can help reduce stress and worry. A comprehensive sleep study might be undertaken by a sleep specialist to identify your specific issues. Sleeping pills can be an effective treatment for very short-term use, if you take them often, you will get used to them and they will stop working as effectively.
Take control of your health by taking control of your sleep. Consult your GP for further information.
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