Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough for an individual to feel refreshed the next morning, even if one has had enough opportunity to sleep. Sleep is the natural state of unconsciousness that enables one’s body to rest. During this state, the body goes through various sleep stages in a cycle like drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep and dreaming. Insomnia or in other word sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder which exhibits an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired.
Definition of normal sleep remains difficult since people differ on the basis of age, diet, environments and lifestyles – factors that play a role in determining the amount of sleep one need. Notably, insomnia is not the only sleep disorder although it is the most common sleep complaints; hence it at times becomes a symptom of another problem which differs from one person to another. Insomnia can be classified as transient, acute or chronic.
Signs and Symptoms
Common symptoms of insomnia include: sleepiness during the day, general tiredness, irritability and anxiety, problems with concentration or memory, waking up during the night and being unable to return to sleep, including difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position and feeling unrefreshed upon waking.
Insomnia is psychologically caused by chronic stress, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. This condition may sometimes last for a few days and then go away on its own. This is especially when the insomnia is tied to an obvious temporary cause like stress over an upcoming event, or a jet lag. Sleep disorders that can cause insomnia include sleep anpea and restless legs syndrome.
People with medical problems like asthma, kidney disease, cancer, chronic pain or allergy are at greater risk. Moreover, taking medications like antidepressants, pain relievers (that contain amounts of caffeine) and cold flu medications causes insomnia.
Insomnia can affect people of different age groups. Those with history of mental health disorder like depression, individuals older than sixty years, working late night shifts, travelling through different time zones and emotional stress brings high chances of insomnia.
It is prudent to recognize or rule out medical and psychological causes of insomnia before settling on the treatment. Other medical conditions that may contribute to insomnia should be identified first, like depression, breathing problems, and chronic pain. Insomnia can be short term or long time. Prevention includes maintaining a consistent sleeping program, like waking up and sleeping at the same time. Again, avoid drinks that are full of caffeine during the 8 hours before sleeping time. Any exercise should be avoided before bed time to create a calm environment.
In conclusion, insomnia is characterized by sleeping during the day and anxiety that causes tiredness. This can be prevented by changing one’s sleeping routines, adhering to sleeping program and avoiding caffeinated drinks. Vulnerable groups should be shielded against insomnia whatsoever.