Essential Health Info

Insomnia Causes and Symptoms

About Insomnia

According to a 2008 report by NPR, roughly 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia every year. If you are one of the people afflicted with this sleep disorder, there may be more options for treatment or medication than you previously realized. Thanks to increased research regarding the effects of smart phones and computer screens, there are more options for the treatment of sleeplessness than there have ever been before.

Types of Insomnia

Acute insomnia is a brief period of sleep difficulty. This can be caused by an important life event, such as losing a loved one, stress from the patient’s career or job, ending of relationships, or travel. Typically these episodes do not last longer than a week, after which the patient’s sleeping schedule should return to normal.

Chronic insomnia is a different situation entirely. Usually those who suffer from chronic insomnia have had difficulties sleeping in the past. There are multiple factors that can cause chronic insomnia. Also, there are a wide variety of treatment possibilities for those who tend to suffer from it. Sleeplessness is a constant battle for those who suffer from this type of sleeplessness and medication is often prescribed to these patients who need help falling and/or staying asleep.

Comorbid insomnia is sleeplessness that is caused by a separate, underlying condition. Sometimes these conditions are psychiatric (such as anxiety or depression) but in other cases these conditions could be physical ailments. Physical ailments like arthritis or back pain can be the cause of comorbid insomnia, simply because the patient cannot lie comfortably in bed.

Onset insomnia is not characterized by the length of its symptoms. This type of sleeplessness only occurs when the patient is attempting to go to sleep for the first time during the night. This type of sleeplessness can be further classified as chronic or acute onset insomnia. This is just a more thorough way of addressing the needs of the patient, by including more information in the name of the disorder.

Maintenance insomnia is just like onset insomnia, but only because it allows doctors to give a more thorough name for a patient’s sleeplessness. However, this refers to patients who don’t have difficulty falling asleep, but have difficulty staying asleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation:

  • Drowsiness
  • Mood Changes(including depression and anxiety)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Weight Gain
  • Poor Balance/Coordination
  • Increased Risk of Heart Disease
  • Increased Risk for Diabetes
  • Low Sex Drive
  • Memory Loss

Possible Causes of Insomnia

Sleep Hygiene

Having an irregular sleeping schedule can increase your risk of developing chronic or acute insomnia. Your body is made to be active while the sun is up and sleep while the sun is down, but this function is not advantageous with the needs of modern society. If you are a shift worker, meaning you have irregular work hours, this may be a primary cause for your sleeplessness. Additionally, working late in the evening after getting up at a regular time in the morning can cause your brain to run late into the night causing it to avoid shutting down for sleep. Finally, afternoon naps can be a large contributor to nighttime insomnia. While naps may help some patients, it can prevent others from falling asleep late into the night.

Diet and Exercise

Patients experiencing sleeplessness should try to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon or evening. The alertness granted by coffees, sodas, teas, and energy drinks are designed to give you energy, making them something to avoid before bed. Nicotine, found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, should also be avoided for patients hoping to alleviate their sleeplessness. Heavy meals late at night can create issues with trying to fall asleep, as your body gains energy by digesting the meal.

Sedentary life can also be an important factor for evaluating someone’s insomnia. If the patient gets little exercise, he or she is not expending all the energy that their body is producing during the day. For this reason, some doctors recommend patients increase their exercise regimen. However, this can have an adverse effect if the patient exercises late at night, as exercise produces adrenaline, a natural energy giving hormone found in your body.

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