Insomnia is a most common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep, stay asleep, or cause to wake up too early and be unable to sleep again. One can feel exhaustion inspite of a full night's sleep. Insomnia can lead to depletion of your energy, health, attitude, work performance, and overall quality of living.
Sleep problems can be intermittent or persistent.
- A short-term sleep problem is often associated with short-term stress, such as stressful life events(accidents, loss of family members, divorce), jet lag, and changes in sleeping environments. This type of short-term insomnia can last for several days or weeks. It usually improves within a month.
- A chronic sleep problem is persistent. It is known as chronic insomnia. It is frequently a symptom of another medical condition, such as depression or chronic pain. Chronic insomnia is comparatively less common than short-term sleep problems.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Doctors list the following symptoms to tell whether or not you have insomnia. These symptoms, if reoccurring, should not be ignored:
- Difficulty to fall asleep
- Awake during the night
- Sleeping only for short duration
- Restlessness throughout the day
- Daytime sleepiness
- Worries before sleep and stress
- Lack of concentration / Difficulty in paying attention
- Accidents ( or ) increased errors
When To See a Doctor?
Insomnia requires the immediate attention of the doctor if it is lasting more than 3-4 weeks or if it interferes with a person's daytime activities and ability to function.
Causes of insomnia
- We all have different sleeping patterns. A healthy individual requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep. People can have acute insomnia due to certain lifestyle modifications or medications. The condition can be treated easily with the help of doctors.
- If the insomnia is not going away even after months, then it is probably due to chronic disorders. It can be due to stress or stress-related life issues.
- Different types of medications, alcohol abuse, and smoking are the leading causes of insomnia.
Although there are many conditions responsible for insomnia, it is yet treatable. Simple alterations in the routine can be beneficial.
- Old age people have more tendency to experience insomnia.
- People in stressful situations or with medical conditions such as depression, physical discomfort, or pain are more likely to develop insomnia.
- Individuals with extremely irregular sleep schedules are more likely to develop insomnia because irregular sleeping schedules weaken the signals of the biological clock that regulate sleep and wakefulness.
- Women suffer predominantly from insomnia than men.
- People who do not unwind from the stresses of the day are more likely to have a bad night's sleep.
- People with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
- People with a genetic predisposition are also more likely to develop insomnia.
The diagnosis of insomnia may include the following:
- Physical examination- If the cause of insomnia is unknown, doctors conduct a physical examination to check for evidence of any medical problems that could be linked to insomnia. Thyroid disorders, Alzheimers disease, Asthma , CHD ,Parkinson's disease, GERD and other illnesses can also cause insomnia. Blood tests can be performed to know the status of the disease.
- Sleep habits review- Doctor may ask you to complete a questionnaire to determine sleep pattern, waking episodes and level of daytime sleepiness. They also can ask sleep-related questions. You may also have to maintain a sleep diary.
- Sleep study(Polysomnography)- If the cause of your insomnia is unknown, or you are having other sleep problems such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, you might need to spend the night at a sleep center. A number of body functions, including heartbeat, respiration, brain waves, eye movements, and body movements are monitored and recorded during sleep.
- Actigraphy examines your periods of rest and activity to determine the quality of sleep. A small motion sensor is to be worn on your wrist for 2 weeks.