What is insomnia?
In simple terms, insomnia is a sleeping disorder whereby you find it difficult to fall asleep, or stay asleep. It can either be a short-term (acute) condition or a long-term (chronic) condition. Aside from these types of insomnia, this article will also cover several other types, so that you may learn more about insomnia and perhaps pinpoint which category you belong in.
ACUTE vs. CHRONIC INSOMNIA
Insomnia is usually classified as acute when it occurs anywhere from 1 night to a few weeks, and is often known as the most common type. It is usually caused by an emotional stimulus like intense stress, grief or sadness. If this is the case, you should consider reaching out to a therapist to assist you with these emotions.
Insomnia is usually considered as chronic when you experience difficulty with sleep for 3 days a week for 3 months or longer. This can be further subdivided into two categories: primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is when the long-term sleeping disorder has no obvious cause, while secondary insomnia (also known as comorbid insomnia) is usually caused by another condition.
Here are some other potential causes and way that you could resolve them:
*Please bear in mind that these are just some of the common causes of acute insomnia
Disruptive environmental factors (e.g. bright light, disruptive noise, etc.)
Identify the source of the problem and find ways to decrease its impact on your sleep quality (e.g. place opaque tape over bright light sources in your room, where ear plugs to sleep, negotiate with your neighbors etc.)
Poor sleeping habits
Habits like taking long naps, using electronics before sleep, using your bed for work, or eating too much before bed can result in insomnia. Making responsible changes to your life can help reduce your insomnia.
Consuming these stimulants in the late afternoon can result in difficulty falling asleep, or, in the case of alcohol, reduce the depth and quality of your sleep.
Change in sleep environment
Develop a sleep routine so that your brain recognizes that it’s time to sleep (e.g. meditation, drinking chamomile or lavender tea, read a book etc.)
Physical discomfort ( injury or unable to find a comfortable position)
If you are having difficulty finding a comfortable position, click on this website to find some top tips on sleeping more comfortably in bed: https://bestlifeonline.com/15-genius-tricks-for-getting-more-comfortable-in-bed/
According to the National Jewish Health Organization, some medications that can cause insomnia are as follows: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, some medications to lower blood pressure, caffeine, alcohol. If you find that this is a cause of your insomnia please consult your doctor before making any changes.
This can range from short term illnesses like a common cold or acute bronchitis to long term illnesses like chronic pain or asthma. In this case, your best shot is to maximize your comfort depending on your illness. Please do not take any drugs before you consult a medical professional.
This could be caused by school, work, family, finances or any concerns. Another common cause is simply the stress of sleeping. It is recommended that you look for a therapist to aid you with your stress. Other tips on reducing stress can be found here: https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-related-insomnia-3144827#:~:text=Think%20of%20getting%20up%20and,during%20the%20afternoon%20and%20evening.
Mental health conditions
Anxiety, depression and PTSD often result in insomnia. If this is the cause of your insomnia please contact a therapist or a doctor for suitable treatment.
Travel or Work Schedule
You have a body clock in which your body gets used to certain activities or habits at certain times of the day. Disrupting a sleep schedule due to travelling or workload can cause insomnia. Developing a pre-sleep ritual will help signal to your body it’s time to sleep.
Results of Insomnia:
Lower performance at work or school
Slowed reaction time (especially when driving resulting in higher risk)
Mental health disorders (depression, anxiety)
Increased risk or severity of long-term medical conditions
OTHER TYPES OF INSOMNIA:
Behavioral insomnia of childhood (approx. 10- 30% children):
Sleep-onset association: children are separated from a sleep associated, habitual action/ activity
Limit-setting: children refuse to go to sleep, potentially due to lenient sleep schedules
Sleep onset insomnia:
You have trouble falling asleep, often a direct result of stress or daytime consequences.
Sleep maintenance insomnia:
You have trouble staying asleep, often a direct result of over worrying about not getting enough sleep and hence initiating a detrimental cycle.
Early morning awakening insomnia:
Waking early in the morning and unable to return to sleep. This is most common in older adults and often associated with aging.
This is an informal term used to describe patients suffering from a combination of sleep onset, sleep maintenance and early morning awakening insomnia.
This is a medical name for insomnia caused by psychiatric conditions (e.g. depression, bipolar, PTSD etc.)
About 30% of adults have symptoms of insomnia
About 10% of adults have insomnia severe enough to result to daytime consequences
<10% of adults have chronic insomnia
Acute insomnia is more common in women than men and in older adults than younger adults and children
Insomnia Awareness Day is the second Sunday in March every year