Insomnia is a condition that is characterised by difficulty falling asleep or the inability to fall asleep. Insomnia includes a wide range of different sleeping problems, and is something that regularly affects millions of people worldwide. While it can affect people of all ages, insomnia is typically more common in adult females than adult males.
Insomnia can have several negative consequences on a person’s life. It can impact several things including work and school performance, relationships, and a person’s overall wellbeing. Insomnia also commonly leads to irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Insomnia is generally separated into three different types. These include:
Transient Insomnia: Symptoms last for up to three nights.
Acute Insomnia (short-term insomnia): Symptoms last for several weeks.
Chronic Insomnia: Symptoms last for several months or years.
There are several causes for insomnia, most of which are from an underlying condition such as lifestyle habits or illness. An individual may experience insomnia because of many different physical and psychological problems they are experiencing, with the type of insomnia related to what is causing it. For example, chronic insomnia may be caused by an underlying medical problem, while acute insomnia may be caused by a recent event or something that occurred in a person’s life.
People more likely to experience insomnia include: workers with frequent shift changes, individuals who frequently travel (especially in different time zones), drug and alcohol abusers, elderly individuals, college students, pregnant women, menopausal women, and individuals with mental health disorders.
Common causes of insomnia can include:
There are several symptoms commonly associated with insomnia. These include:
There are countless individuals who experience insomnia that find it goes away after a few days. Others however, may find that insomnia becomes a regular occurrence and that it begins to negatively impact their daily lives. When bouts of insomnia become regular, seeking treatment can help.
The treatment a person receives for insomnia depends on what is causing it. Common types of treatment for insomnia include:
The two systems that affect a person’s sleep cycles is their wake system and sleep system. The wake system gives signals to help wake a person up in the morning and keep them awake. The sleep system gives signals to help a person fall asleep and stay asleep.
In general, adults need approximately 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Insomnia affects everyone differently. Some people may experience insomnia for just one or two nights, while others will develop chronic insomnia that lasts for several months or years.
Sleep hygiene is several different practices and healthy habits that are fundamental in receiving good sleep at night. Good sleep hygiene practices include: limiting caffeine intake at least 6 hours prior to bed, exercising regularly (but avoiding strenuous workouts before bed), avoiding food that can disrupt sleep (fried foods, heavy or rich meals, sugar, spicy foods, and citrus), ensuring exposure to natural sunlight, engaging in a regular bedtime routine, and having a pleasant sleep environment.