What is Insomnia? Insomnia is a Sleep Disorder
Yes, Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty in falling asleep or staying comfortably asleep for a required period. People who suffer from insomnia tend to wake up early and struggle to go back to sleep which makes them lethargic and tired. It affects their daily routine as lack of sound slumber lowers their energy levels and degrades their mood, productivity, and overall quality of life.
Even though the amount of sleep required varies from person to person, if you get at least 7 to 8 hours of carefree sleep on the majority of days, consider yourself lucky as insomnia is the most common of all sleep disorders, especially in adults. Many people suffer from short-term or acute insomnia that can last from 1 night to a few weeks. But in case of chronic or long-term insomnia, the condition might last anywhere between 3 nights to 3 months, or even more!
Types of Insomnia
Insomnia can be categorized into two types:
Primary Insomnia – This is when insomnia is the primary issue.
Secondary Insomnia – When insomnia is associated with a health condition like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or is a result of a particular medication or substance use such as nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine.
Take a look at the symptoms and causes of insomnia to get a better understanding.
Listed below are some common symptoms of insomnia:
- Waking up in the middle of the night.
- Unable to fall asleep despite getting adequate time and opportunity.
- Waking up too early.
- Difficulty in staying asleep.
- Feeling unrefreshed and tired after a night’s sleep.
These symptoms can result in more serious symptoms such as:
- Depression and anxiety.
- Irritability and frequent mood swings.
- Day time sleepiness and tiredness.
- Difficulty in focusing on tasks and remembering things.
- Increased accidents or errors.
Acute or adjustment insomnia can be caused due to:
- Situational stress such as a new job, examination, or a deadline.
- Extreme temperatures.
- Uncomfortable bed/mattress.
- Death of a close friend/relative.
- Problems in an important relationship.
- Jet lag.
- Certain medications.
Note: This insomnia resolves once the stressful situation is removed or the person adapts to it.
When insomnia is the primary problem, it is usually caused by prolonged periods of stress or bad sleeping habits. Secondary and chronic insomnia, on the other hand, are caused due to:
- Severe Stress – Life problems related to work, finances, relationships, health, or school can lead to a lot of stress which disrupts sleep. Traumatic events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, etc. may also cause chronic insomnia.
- Mental health disorders – Insomnia is a side-effect of various mental disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety.
- Medications- Various antidepressants or drugs prescribed for a particular disease like asthma or blood pressure are known to interrupt the sleep cycle. Some medicines used for pain, allergies, cold, or weight-loss contain ingredients that hinder the natural course of sleep.
- Substance Use – Caffeine is a stimulant which prevents a person from falling asleep. That’s why people drink coffee to stay awake for longer hours. But consuming caffeinated drinks in the evening or late at night can lead to insomnia. Similarly, nicotine is also a stimulant that disrupts sleep. When it comes to alcohol, you might believe that it helps you fall asleep. But what many people don’t know is that alcohol prevents deeper stages of slumber which leads to waking up in the middle of the night.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle – This is a major cause of insomnia among youth. Binge-watching T.V. shows all night, eating unhealthy, lack of physical activity, increased screen time, and excessive caffeine consumption, all these add up to be the reason behind several psychological and sleep disorders including insomnia.
So, what to do?
For a night full of deep restful slumber, you can take the following measures:
- Avoid using devices/smartphones before going to bed as the light coming out of the screen keeps you up for longer.
- Fix a sleeping routine.
- Avoid taking long naps in the day time. Take short naps instead.
- Don’t exercise or consume caffeine before going to sleep.
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