Insomnia commonly leads to daytime sleepiness, lethargy, and a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically. Mood swings, irritability, and anxiety are common associated symptoms.
Insomnia has also been associated with a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30-40 percent of American adults report that they have had symptoms of insomnia within the last 12 months, and 10-15 percent of adults claim to have chronic insomnia.
Here, we will discuss what insomnia is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and possible treatments.
- There are many possible causes of insomnia.
- An estimated 30-40 percent of Americans report experiencing insomnia each year.
- Often, insomnia is due to a secondary cause, such as illness or lifestyle.
- Causes of insomnia include psychological factors, medications, and hormone levels.
- Treatments for insomnia can be medical or behavioral.
Insomnia can be caused by physical and psychological factors. There is sometimes an underlying medical condition that causes chronic insomnia, while transient insomnia may be due to a recent event or occurrence. Insomnia is commonly caused by:
- Disruptions in circadian rhythm - jet lag, job shift changes, high altitudes, environmental noise, extreme heat or cold.
- Psychological issues - bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, or psychotic disorders.
- Medical conditions - chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, angina, acid-reflux disease (GERD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, brain lesions, tumors, stroke.
- Hormones - estrogen, hormone shifts during menstruation.
- Other factors - sleeping next to a snoring partner, parasites, genetic conditions, overactive mind, pregnancy.
Media technology in the bedroom
Several small studies in adults and children have suggested that an exposure to light from televisions and smartphones prior to going to sleep can affect natural melatonin levels and lead to increased time to sleep.
In addition, a study conducted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that backlit tablet computers can affect sleep patterns. These studies suggest that technology in the bedroom can worsen insomnia, leading to more complications.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the following medications can cause insomnia in some patients:
- alpha blockers
- beta blockers
- SSRI antidepressants
- ACE inhibitors
- ARBs (angiotensin II-receptor blockers)
- cholinesterase inhibitors
- second generation (non-sedating) H1 agonists
Signs and symptoms
Insomnia itself may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. However, there are many signs and symptoms that are associated with insomnia:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night.
- Waking during the night.
- Waking earlier than desired.
- Still feeling tired after a night's sleep.
- Daytime fatigue or sleepiness.
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety.
- Poor concentration and focus.
- Being uncoordinated, an increase in errors or accidents.
- Tension headaches (feels like a tight band around head).
- Difficulty socializing.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Worrying about sleeping.
Sleep deprivation can cause other symptoms. The afflicted person may wake up not feeling fully awake and refreshed, and may have a sensation of tiredness and sleepiness throughout the day.
Having problems concentrating and focusing on tasks is common for people with insomnia. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 20 percent of non-alcohol related car crash injuries are caused by driver sleepiness.
Insomnia has a wide range of causes including stress.
Insomnia includes a wide range of sleeping disorders, from lack of sleep quality to lack of sleep quantity. Insomnia is commonly separated into three types:
- Transient insomnia - occurs when symptoms last up to three nights.
- Acute insomnia - also called short-term insomnia. Symptoms persist for several weeks.
- Chronic insomnia - this type lasts for months, and sometimes years. According to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of chronic insomnia cases are side effects resulting from another primary problem.
Good sleep hygiene, including avoiding electronics before bed, can help treat insomnia.
Some types of insomnia resolve when the underlying cause is treated or wears off. In general, insomnia treatment focuses on determining the cause.
Once identified, this underlying cause can be properly treated or corrected.
In addition to treating the underlying cause of insomnia, both medical and non-pharmacological (behavioral) treatments may be used as therapies.
Non-pharmacological approaches include cognitive behaviorlal therapy (CBT) in one-on-one counseling sessions or group therapy:
Medical treatments for insomnia include:
- prescription sleeping pills
- over-the-counter sleep aids
Home remedies for insomnia include:
- Improving "sleep hygiene": Not sleeping too much or too little, exercising daily, not forcing sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine at night, avoiding smoking, avoiding going to bed hungry, and ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment.
- Using relaxation techniques: Examples include meditation and muscle relaxation.
- Stimulus control therapy - only go to bed when sleepy. Avoid watching TV, reading, eating, or worrying in bed. Set an alarm for the same time every morning (even weekends) and avoid long daytime naps.
- Sleep restriction: Decreasing the time spent in bed and partially depriving the body of sleep can increase tiredness, ready for the next night.
A sleep specialist will start by asking questions about the individual's medical history and sleep patterns.
A physical exam may be conducted to look for possible underlying conditions. The doctor might screen for psychiatric disorders and drug and alcohol use.
The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine explains that the term "insomnia" is often used to refer to "disturbed sleep."
For a diagnosis of insomnia, the disturbed sleep should have lasted for more than 1 month. It should also negatively impact the patient's wellbeing, either through the causing distress or disturbing mood or performance.
The patient may be asked to keep a sleep diary to help understand their sleeping patterns.
Other tests may include a polysomnograph. This is an overnight sleeping test that records sleep patterns. In addition, actigraphy may be conducted. This uses a small, wrist-worn device called an actigraph to measure movement and sleep-wake patterns.
Insomnia can affect people of any age; it is more common in adult females than adult males. It can undermine school and work performance, as well as contributing to obesity, anxiety, depression, irritability, concentration problems, memory problems, poor immune system function, and reduced reaction time.
Some people are more likely to experience insomnia. These include:
- travelers, particularly through multiple time zones
- shift workers with frequent changes in shifts (day vs. night)
- the elderly
- users of illegal drugs
- adolescent or young adult students
- pregnant women
- menopausal women
- those with mental health disorders
Nowadays, sleeplessness, in other word is insomnia, has become a hotly discussed topic when life as well as society is being complex more and more. Many researches have been carried out to discover what are causes and effects of this symptom. My writing will soundly focus not only two major causes: life situation and inputs of human body; but also two effects: serious health problems and behavior impact of sleeplessness. They are according to some researches. The first cause of sleeplessness is life situation. It includes stress, depressed, anxious, or other psychological problems. Many people face to several stressful situations in their life, such as word-overloading, unemployment, exam preparation, loss of a loved one, breaking a relationship, divorce, or separation. These cause lead to they must think or feel bad so much that they don’t feel asleep or can’t have a good and comfortable sleep. Uncomfortable bed, blanket, wrap, room temperature (too hot or too cold) and some kinds of pong also contribute to sleeplessness. As far as I know, depression and anxiety are strongly associated with sleeplessness symptom. Besides, anxiety and depression are the most common feeling people usually face to. The other cause of sleeplessness is inputs of human body. They are some kinds of drug people use, alcohol, some kinds of food or drink, etc.
Nowadays, there are many people have some diseases, health matter, so they use some kinds of drug, such as: Prednisone, arthritis, hypertension, asthma, medications used to treat high blood pressure etc. Then, sleeplessness is created by these drugs. According to some investigates, most people get sleeplessness due to using prednisone after taking their dosage late in the evening. In addition, drinking wine or other alcohols can induce sleep disorders because it disrupts the sequence of sleep states. Aside from, it causes insomnia (or sleeplessness) by altering all sleep time as well as the time required to fall asleep. For example, some people say that when they drink too much or become obviously drunk, they often sleep badly. For more detail, they say that they sleep for two or three hours and then they wake up and can be able to sleep again. Moreover, some fast-food like BBQ or KFC chicken, hamburger, hot dog, etc; and soda, caffeine-drink, etc also are reasons for insomnia. One of the most serious effects of sleeplessness is health problems. This symptom affects people’s brains function. As a consequence of insomnia, there is people’s resistance to illness and disease, increasing negative emotion, despairs and wrecks their appearance. Besides, if people don’t have enough sleep they can’t think clearly, and get good memory. Sleeplessness also causes the body to release too little growth hormone and make skin as well as eyes bad. For special, sleep loss can have effect on lackluster skin and make a dark circles under the eyes. Moreover, according to a research, people who have sleeplessness were 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who sleep from seven to nine hours per day. Some other research in British show that people who lack of sleep are nearly doubled their risk of death.
At the second analysis, sleeplessness leaves effect on behavior impact. This can contribute to the symptoms of depression and lose confidence. Some investigation show that America people who sleep less than six hours at night are likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Besides, people have this symptom are easy to have an accident, making a serious mistake, even the risks. When drivers are lack of sleep, serious motor-vehicle-accidents are likely to occur. In addition, sleeplessness makes people reduce the ability to concentrate or focus on a study, work, and other tasks. Moreover, people usually make impaired social interaction after a long time living with sleeplessness.
Both causes and effects of sleeplessness have just been analyzed above, major causes are life situation and inputs of human body and serious effects are serious health problems and behavior impact. With all of the above, I hope that people can avoid this worse symptom so as to have a comfortable, healthy, and happy life.