Anyone who has suffered from the symptoms of insomnia knows the debilitating effects it causes in person’s life. Severe sleep deprivation can make even regular daily activities difficult as well as impact the ability to enjoy life. Chronic or long term conditions can even contribute to serious health complications. If you suffer from this problem, it is important to know that you are not alone and that treatment is available.
What Exactly is Insomnia?
The term is often used to describe any lack or difficulty of sleep but is actually much more complex. It is not a single disorder, but more accurately described as a symptom of another problem. Frequently, it can accompany many mental, and physical disorders. It is characterized by an extreme difficulty in getting to or maintaining sleep, or waking up still feeling tired. Since every person needs a different amount of sleep to feel refreshed, insomnia is primarily defined by the quality of rest, not by duration or the difficulty. Common symptoms include:
- Feeling tired and groggy during the day
- Problems concentrating
- Waking early
- Difficulty in getting back to sleep if awakened
- Waking up frequently throughout the night
- Trouble falling asleep no matter how tired
- Never feeling refreshed in the morning
- Needing to rely on alcohol or sleeping aids
According to WebMd experts, There are two main types of insomnia, Primary and secondary.
- Primary is not related to any other health condition.
- Secondary is a result of or other health problems.
What is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic?
The condition can also be categorized by the duration for which it is experienced. Both chronic and acute insomnia may be experienced for a period of time with symptoms going and retuning at a later time.
- Acute is short term, lasting from a few nights to a few weeks.
- Chronic is experienced for more than three nights a week and for longer than a month.
The causes of insomnia can be many, according to Mayo Clinic staff. Rather than a condition all on its own, it is often a result or an indicator of other health concerns. Some of the most common causes include:
- Depression (can both be a cause and a result)
- Stress (the most common contributing factor)
- Anxiety disorders
- Medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, stroke, Parkinson, and Alzheimers diseases and heart disease.
- Working nights
- Jet lag
- Stimulants such as caffeine, and nicotine
- Chronic pain conditions
- Sleep apnea
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is important to talk to your physician about any difficulties you experience sleeping or if your sleep is not restful. If your symptoms are acute or mild, only changes in lifestyle may be recommended. If the problem is more severe or long term, you may be asked to complete a sleep study to more precisely define the problem. Some of the treatments include:
- Mild medications
- Changes in lifestyle
- Behavioral or biofeedback training
- Relaxation, meditation, and stretching exercises
- The treatment of the underlying medical causes of the insomnia
Anyone can develop unhealthy patterns that can lead to long term insomnia. It is important to discuss any problems with your physician so they can rule out any more serious health condition.