Insomnia is a chronic and persistent inability to fall or stay asleep. The American Insomnia Association states that that a third of the U.S. population copes with insomnia on some level.
American Insomnia Association defines insomnia as a chronic inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. A third of the population copes with occasional insomnia. Chronic insomniacs who display a persistent inability to sleep at least three nights a week make up ten percent of the population.
Stress affects people on physical, mental and emotional levels. Stress can keep a person awake at night. If stress is the root cause of insomnia, itís best to practice relaxation techniques before going to bed at night. The bodyís fight or flight is triggered by stress; sleep would be counterproductive to survival in a fight or flight situation and persistent stress can keep the body in this state of alertness and prevent sleep.
Learned insomnia is another type of problem some people may encounter. Learned insomnia occurs when a person cannot let go of their worries and spend the quiet minutes when they should be drifting off to sleep analyzing and troubleshooting problems in their head. The best way to cope with learned insomnia is to change sleep habits up, including sleeping in a different spot for a couple of nights in order to fake the mind out.
In some patients, the inability to fall asleep or to have disrupted sleep patterns may be a symptom of a greater problem. If a person struggles with sleeping or waking constantly throughout the night at least two to three times a week for two or more weeks, they should contact their physician.
Chronic insomniacs experience persistent episodes of sleeplessness at least three times a week. Insomniacs sleep irregular patterns and wake up tired. They may wake up as much as two to three hours before they need to be up. They suffer mood swings and increased irritability. Cognitive functions may be impaired due to lack of constant sleep cycles.
Primary and secondary insomniacs share many of the same symptoms, but due to different causes. Primary insomnia is the actual problem and not symptomatic of a deeper health issue. Primary insomnia may be related to environmental factors like a car alarm going off. Secondary insomnia is a symptom caused by another issue.
A patient who drinks or smokes excessively can experience secondary insomnia. It can also be caused by other health issues such as sleep apnea (or other sleep disorders), cancer, heartburn or depression. The inability to sleep may be pain related or due to medication. Some medications contain stimulants that prevent natural sleep from occurring. In the case of medicine induced insomnia, adjusting to a different medication or a different time of day to take the medication may help resolve the issue. Never change medication without consulting a physician first.
Make a Lifestyle Commitment
In many cases, the causes of primary insomnia can be managed through lifestyle choices and changes. If the primary insomnia is due to stress then developing a better way of coping with day to day stresses such as regular exercise and meditation can help relieve the mind and let it sleep. Insomnia due to too much external noise can be resolved through a humidifier or fan that generates white noise and blots out the sound.
Secondary insomnia is indicative of other issues. While sleep aids can help an insomniac sleep, it is important to address the root causes by seeking medical attention. If a patient reports insomnia that is moderate to severe in intensity, the physician will investigate the possible causes.