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Insomnia

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Insomnia can be defined as a sleeping disorder wherein a person affected by it has difficulty of going to sleep or maintaining sleep. With sleep deprivation, a person may not be able to function normally during the day or during waking hours. Insomnia will greatly affect a person's physical state more so his or her psychological condition.

INSOMNIA CAUSES

But insomnia is also a result of physical and psychological causes. Anxiety, depression and stress are some of the psychological causes of insomnia while physical causes can be because of a certain physiological disorder. This would include congestive heart failures, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other degenerative diseases are some of the physiological conditions that may cause insomnia.

INSOMNIA SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Insomnia can be categorized into three types namely transient insomnia, acute insomnia and chronic insomnia. Transient insomnia is a type of insomnia that lasts from days to several weeks. Acute insomnia is the inability of a person to sleep for a duration of three weeks to six months. Chronic insomnia on the other hand could last for several months to several years. Anyone afflicted with any type of insomnia though will have the same manifestations which is the loss of a person's alertness. Some people are more vulnerable than others. Anyone with a mental disorder has a great chance of experiencing insomnia. Travelers, pregnant women, senior citizens, shift workers and menopausal women are also predisposed of being insomniacs. But it can affect anyone regardless of age, sex and race.

There are several causes of insomnia. It can be categorized to sleeping environment, physical condition, psychological condition, medications and sleep hygiene. When talking about sleeping environment it means that the factor which causes a person's insomnia can be credited to the environment of the place where the person sleeps. This would include noise, sleeping distractions (TV, radio, etc.), temperature of the bedroom, humidity of the bedroom, softness or hardness of the mattress, softness or hardness of pillows, quality of blankets and comforters, and ventilation of the bedroom. It could also be that the person may be used to sleeping alone and now is sleeping together with somebody or it could be the other way around – he or she is used to sleeping with somebody now he or she is sleeping alone.

INSOMNIA RISK FACTOR

The physical condition of a person can also be a factor that could cause insomnia. An example would be the hormone shifts that occur with women. Menstruation as well as menopause can cause several changes in the body and may induce insomnia. People suffering from Wilson's syndrome or hyperthyroidism is also prone to becoming insomniacs. A disturbance in the circadian rhythm (time zone shifting) is another physical factor that could cause insomnia. A person who has suffered neurological trauma, traumatic brain injury or brain lesions are also predisposed to experiencing insomnia.

Another factor that could cause insomnia would be the mental state or the psychological condition of a person. Depression, which is a kind of mental state, has been known to cause insomnia. Bipolar disorder as well as general anxiety disorder also has the same effect. The feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress are also common causes of insomnia.

Medications have also been known to cause insomnia to people. Anyone taking stimulants such as caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine, ephedrine, methamphetamine, modafinil, and methlphenidate is most likely to increase insomnia. Even sleeping aids such as sleeping pills, if abused can cause rebound insomnia.

The last category that may cause insomnia is sleep hygiene. Having poor sleep hygiene, not following any guidelines before sleeping, will cause insomnia over time. This is quite common to people who are always on the go.

The symptoms of insomnia will include the verbalization of a person that he or she has difficulty in sleeping. A person with insomnia may also manifest poor concentration as well as poor focus. He or she may also have poor memory. Impaired motor function, lowered alertness, impaired social interaction, and behavioral changes are also other symptoms of insomnia.

INSOMNIA TREATMENT

Since insomnia is considered to be more of a symptom rather than a stand-alone condition, the treatment would usually focus on treating the underlying condition. But as initial treatment, medications such as sleeping pills may be given. Aside from the sleeping pills other medications such as benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, antidepressants, melatonin, antihistamines, and atypical antipsychotics may be requested by the doctor.

Other than medications, a person suffering from insomnia may also undergo therapy. In therapy, patients are taught on how to improve their sleeping habits. There are also unconventional ways of treating insomnia. Eating a light dinner, drinking warm milk prior to sleeping, exercise, avoiding mentally stimulating activities before bedtime, sleeping early, waking up early, and aromatherapy are just some of these unconventional methods.

INSOMNIA PREVENTION

Preventing insomnia would mean taking care of your sleeping environment, physical condition, psychological condition, medications as well as your sleeping hygiene. As for your sleeping environment, it is imperative that you ensure everything in your sleeping area makes you feel comfortable. Make sure that you have the right room temperature, the right ventilation, the right mattresses, the right pillows and other materials in your sleeping area. If having a TV or a radio proves to be very tempting, then do not put a radio or TV inside the room. Turn your sleeping area into something that you are comfortable with and is conducive for sleeping.

When talking about physical condition, it all depends on the condition of a person. If he or she has a particular illness that can't be treated right away then there is nothing you can do about it.


Just like with physical condition, the psychological condition of a person may also be hard to manipulate in order to prevent insomnia. Clinical depression, as well as bipolar disorder, is a mental illness that can't easily be treated. It would take time and there is nothing much a person can do about it when it comes to preventing insomnia.

In the aspect of medication, preventing insomnia could be easy. All a person has to do is to avoid drugs such as stimulants. But there are also medications for a certain illness (mental or physical) with insomnia as its side-effects. In this case, it would be a matter of prioritization whether preventing insomnia is more important than treating the illness or vice versa.

Last but not the least a person should develop an effective sleeping hygiene. All you need is to have discipline and follow your guidelines. In time, you will get used to the guidelines and will have undisturbed sleep.
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