Everyone needs their sleep and it is very important for your mental and physical health. If you’re not getting enough sleep you could be in serious trouble and if the problem persists, you may have a clinical condition. The condition I am referring to is known as insomnia and it affects millions of people around the world. The condition is crippling and can leave people anxious and tired. Insomnia is more than just a few short nights, however, as it has to persist over a long period of time for it to be properly classified.
Insomnia is present all over the world and is caused by a range of factors. It can happen to anyone and it is key that you know as much as you can about the condition as well as prevention techniques. This will ensure you never suffer from the horrible condition and live a sleep-full life.
To help you with your knowledge of insomnia, this article will go through everything you need to know about the condition. We will investigate the possible cause of the condition, the treatments as well as the prevention techniques you can use today to prevent yourself from developing insomnia. If this all sounds appealing and interesting, I suggest you continue to read on.
What is Insomnia?
Although many people believe that insomnia is whenever you cannot fall asleep, it is actually much more than that. Insomnia is a crippling condition which prevents you from sleeping or at least sleeping properly. We have already talked about the repercussions of not getting enough sleep in another article here. So, as you should know, not getting enough sleep can become a very serious issue.
Statistically, one in three people suffer from insomnia in the UK alone and it is quite widespread. When you are suffering from insomnia, you could have some of these symptoms:
- Not feeling great during wake-up
- Finding it difficult to sleep at night
- Having a rocky sleep with several wake-ups in the night
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
I will also state that we aren’t doctors or are not supplying you with critical diagnosis, you if you feel you are suffering from several of these symptoms, consult a doctor. It should also be noted that you may not suffer from insomnia for a continuous period and may suffer in periods. Some period you may sleep absolutely fine whereas, in others, you may sleep incredibly badly. In some cases, insomnia might last for a year and then disappear randomly without a trace.
Critical, persistent insomnia has serious issues. This is insomnia that continues for years. People who suffer from this kind of insomnia are likely to have serious mental, physical and social problems. Some individuals might even lose their jobs or relationships because of the issues.
What Constitutes as “Enough Sleep”?
So to actually have insomnia you have to not be sleeping the required amount of hours, right? Well, not exactly. The truth is that there is no exact number of hours you need to sleep every night. In fact, the number differs for everyone and varies more depending on your age. In general, smaller children and babies will sleep longer, around 9-10 hours. In contrast, normal adults normally need around 7-8 hours’ sleep, so you can see the difference is rather small.
So, the takeaway message here is to realize that insomnia is not about the exact number of hours you’re sleeping but actually the quality of your sleep. This is what really matters. If you are not getting a quality sleep you may suffer even if you got “enough” hours. Conducting a sleep-assessment might be helpful if you’re unsure.
What Causes Insomnia?
Just like any condition, the number of causes for insomnia are vast and there is no one, specific cause that you can easily pinpoint. There are several factors that contribute to insomnia and anyone by itself can work independently of the others.
It is important to get a full assessment by a professional, as they will be able to identify the main causes of your insomnia and will be able to help from this information. Here are a few suggested causes of insomnia that you need to be aware of.
Drink, Drugs, and Lifestyle
This is a pretty obvious one but if you are drinking a lot or taking recreational drugs there is a higher chance of you developing insomnia. These sort of things can disturb your sleep and can persist over a long period of time if you don’t cut down. This is especially true when you consider stimulants like nicotine, which can stay in the body for hours, keeping you awake at night even if you only drunk coffee 4 hours before bed.
Your occupation can also have an effect on your sleep. This is truer with shift workers who might experience late nights in the office or nightshifts in a gas station. All of this can contribute to bad sleeping habits and insomnia.
Stress and Anxiety
This is one of the more common reasons to develop insomnia. If you are stressing over an event that happening in the past or is about to happen in the next day the thoughts can keep you up at night. This is truer for individuals who have experienced a particularly stressful event, such as a family death or financial difficulty (debt, etc.). Although this is more severe, individuals can also experience stress from normal day events which can keep them up at night.
If this persists, the stressful event can become associated with sleep, leading to sleep becoming an anxious event by itself. This is when things get serious and you may need professional help in order to overcome the issue.
Physical Health Conditions
Although mental conditions are more likely to give you insomnia, you can also develop the condition through physical problems. If you have a painful injury, you might be able to sleep throughout the night, messing with your sleep routine and patterns. It is also possible to associate the pain with sleep, which can result in the rejection of sleep altogether. There are a number of conditions that have been associated with insomnia, including heart conditions, respiratory conditions, and hormonal conditions.
This relates to the drugs paragraph slightly but is associated more with prospection drugs as opposed to recreational drugs like nicotine. These drugs are usually over-the-counter and help with a range of issues. There are a number of known medication that can result in the development of insomnia. These include antidepressants, beta blockers, and steroid meds.
Treatment for Insomnia
The treatment for insomnia vary and you can also perform some self-treatment if you don’t want to go to your doctor. However, if you have been sleeping badly and have been experiencing the symptoms described above for more than 4 weeks, you may have insomnia and should see a professional.
Your doctor will advise you on a number of things and will also offer some sort of cognitive behavior therapy to see if they can shake you of those anxious beliefs. The main aim of the treatments to get your sleeping pattern back to normal so you can experience a decent night’s sleep. Each treatment has its pros and cons and it will be up to you to decide which is best. Here are a few treatments that could be suggested.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
This is normally a last resort kind of treatment but if you are experience critical insomnia and other treatments aren’t working, they may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a form of psychological treatment that is focused on ridding your mind of the unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that may be preventing you from sleeping. There is a special kind of CBT called CBT-I, which is developed for insomnia patients. From the results, it is very effective and has long-lasting results.
Sleeping pill is a way to try and overcome insomnia and they have been found to be effective. There are a number of pills that you can get and some can be purchased over-the-counter like normal medication. If you’re looking for something stronger, you may have to consult your doctor.
Sleeping pills are not used as frequently these days and are only used in severe cases of insomnia. They are also usually used along with other therapies (like CBT-I) and are used in the short-term. The main issue with pills is that people can become dependent on them and will be unable to sleep without them. They don’t tackle the cause of insomnia and act as a cover.
Sleeping Habit Correction
This is one of the more common procedures when it comes to insomnia treatment. These are self-treatment techniques that your doctor will suggest when you come in and talk to them about insomnia. They are basic techniques that have been discussed in previous articles on Sleepei.com. Here are some of the things you can do to overcome insomnia:
- Set bedtimes and wake times and stick to them
- Get relaxed before you go to bed
- Avoid daytime naps
- Make sure you have the perfect sleep environment
- Avoid caffeine and heavy meals before bed
Insomnia is a critical problem that can lead to a range of health problems if it is not sorted. Some people will have insomnia for a short period of time whereas others may have it for years. The problem has a range of causes and no one knows what the underlying, true cause is. There is a range of treatments for insomnia and it can be quite easy to overcome. In any case, you should go and see your doctor if you feel you have insomnia to see what things they suggest.