How to deal with sleeplessness (Insomnia)
Posted By Joel Akande
Sleeplessness or in professional terms, insomnia, is an extremely common disorder that affects people of all races and of all regions on the world. Insomnia does not discriminate between men and women. Both are affected.
What is Insomnia? Sleeplessness is a condition in which the sufferer has either inadequate volume of sleep (number of hours) that is appropriate for the age and function of the person or having poor quality of sleep, the quality that would have allowed the individual to function sufficiently. Insomnia may also mean no sleep at all. Insomnia may be a condition of not being able to initiate sleep or maintain sleep even after initiating sleep. In this article, I have assumed that majority of human beings sleep at night as we are designed to take majority of our sleep at night. Our biological clock and body get used to this pattern of sleep day in, day out. Any change in this regular pattern may affect our sleep.
In this article, we will further examine the causes of insomnia and the effects that sleeplessness brings upon the victims. There are different types of insomnia. Insomnia can be acute such that it lasts a very brief period.
Acute insomnia can happen as a result of an urgent issue that lays in our mind such as having received bad or stressful news like death of a loved one. Acute sleeplessness may also follow impending issue such as upcoming examination, wedding or upcoming travelling arrangement. Very often, acute insomnia settles or heals as the event that brought the acute impairment get resolved. In some situations, such as in bereavement, acute sleeplessness may require urgent medical support. I have attended to patients in several situations in which the stressful news became unbearable. This led to a lot of agitation and restlessness thus necessitating medical intervention.
On the other side of the coin, sleeplessness can be long standing or what healthcare practitioners call chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is a disrupted sleep that occurs at least 3 nights per week and have lasted a minimum of three months.
This can follow a host of conditions, illnesses, or circumstances such as for example when a person changes the usual environment of sleep. Example is when a person leaves his or her usual room or home and stays elsewhere. Another instance is a lifestyle such as change in what we call changes to our biological lock. A person’s biological clock may be affected by shift work.
Let us take a look at some of the causes of sleeplessness.
Sleeplessness may be due to both mental and physical medical conditions and non-medical circumstances. Let’s start with mental health conditions: Anxiety of any cause, depression of any origin such as grief, dementia of any type, overwork, unemployment, loss of money and materials, life issues and relationship difficulties may cause insomnia.
Psychosis such as schizophrenia, hypomania and other psychosis may lead to sleeplessness. Misuse of substances may lead to insomnia. For certainty, coffee, caffeine and long term alcohol may all cause sleeplessness.
Medically prescribed medications are not spared. As part of the side effects of such medications, sleeplessness may result even though the overall effect of the medication is beneficial.
On the other hand, there are a lot of medical disorders that on their own may result in sleeplessness or the symptoms of the disease may result in insomnia. Diseases relating to breathing difficulties such as blocked nose, cold illness, nasal allergies, asthma and bronchitis may result in sleeplessness.
Illnesses that causes the victim to wake frequently to use the toilet such as diabetes mellitus, prostate enlargement may lead to sleep frustration. Overfunctioning thyroid, arthritis, long standing pain of any cause lead to sleep impairment. Obesity, leading to sleep apnea is another cause of sleeplessness. Short term or long term pain of any origin may cause insomnia.
Your lifestyle and outside influences can have significant effect on your sleep. Examples: hostile domestic environment. If your brain remain very active well too late into the night, or you work from home and the brain become too alert or for too long, sleep may be impaired.
Sleeping in the afternoon which becomes a habit may cause a reversal of normal biological clock to the effect that you lose the ability to fall asleep or maintain your sleep in the at night.
How much sleep do you need? Well, this is a matter of age. However, there are some persons that function at a lower amount of sleep provided the quality of the sleep is good.
That said, most adults will require 6-8 hours of sleep per day. Newborn may spend up to 20 hours or more sleeping. Older children from say 3 years to teenagers require much less hours between or up to 10-12 hours may be sufficient.
Symptoms of Poor Sleep: Fatigue, irritability, sense of frustration, headache, poor concentration, dizziness, poor state of alertness, anger, low productivity, loss of interest and low energy are some of the likely outcomes of sleeplessness.
Solutions to Sleeplessness: For acute sleep disorder, a short course of supporting medication may help especially with the aim to help the person through the stress. Taking sleeping medication when state of alertness such as for driving is anticipated or examination is on the way is not advisable. For chronic sleep disorder, the sufferer should visit a medical doctor for thorough investigations. If a specific mental or medical disorder is excluded, you should take a look at your lifestyle and make a change. Have a structure to your sleep patterns. Stop consuming food late. Eat lightly in the evening. Stop such foods and drinks as coffee and alcohol. Stop smoking. Other measures that may help are physical exercise taken regularly 4 hours before the intended time of sleep.
Culled from The Nation