Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide on a daily basis. It is hard for those with insomnia to fall asleep or remain asleep.
Depending on their age, adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep in each 24-hour cycle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Research indicates that about 25 percent of people experience insomnia every year in the United States, but about 75 percent of these individuals do not develop a long-term issue.
Short-term sleeplessness can lead to exhaustion during the day, trouble focusing, and other issues. It can increase the risk of various diseases in the long term.
As well as its causes, signs, diagnosis, and remedies, this article looks at what insomnia is.
An individual with insomnia has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. They will wake up too early regularly.
This can lead to problems like:
- Sleepiness throughout the day and lethargy
- A general sense of being physically and mentally unwell
- Changes in moods, irritability, and anxiety
The above problems can also lead to insomnia; they can be causes, effects, or both.
In addition, in the development of chronic diseases, insomnia can play a role, such as:
It can also undermine the performance of school and work and restrict the capacity of an individual to do daily activities.
A variety of physical and psychological factors can contribute to insomnia. Sometimes, a temporary issue, such as short-term stress, is the cause. Insomnia results from an underlying medical disorder in some other cases.
Common causes include:
- Getting jet lag, changing job shifts, or coping with any other changes to the internal clock of the body
- The room is too hot, cold, or noisy, or the bed is too awkward.
- caring for someone in the house, if it disrupts sleep
- Too little physical exercise
- Catching night terrors or nightmares that are bad
- Usage of recreational drugs, such as ecstasy or cocaine
Stress or a mental health condition in certain individuals is responsible for insomnia. An individual might experience:
Some other health conditions that can limit sleep include:
- restless legs syndrome
- an overactive thyroid
- sleep apnea
- gastrointestinal reflux disease, commonly called GERD
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD
- chronic pain
Symptoms of another health condition or natural transition also cause trouble sleeping. For example, during menopause, hormonal changes can lead to sweating at night, which can disrupt sleep.
Some individuals may have a rare genetic condition called fatal familial insomnia, which prevents sleep and may endanger their lives.
Media technology in the bedroom
Research shows that it can induce a lack of sleep in young people by using devices with screens before bed.
In adults, these devices can also damage sleep patterns. Recreational use after lights-out seems, for example, to raise the risk of insomnia.
The following drugs can cause insomnia, according to the American Association of Retired Persons:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, antidepressants
- angiotensin converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors
- angiotensin II receptor-blockers, or ARBs
- cholinesterase inhibitors
- nonsedating H1 agonists
- a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin
Apart from disrupted sleep, insomnia can lead other issues, such as:
- daytime fatigue or sleepiness
- irritability, depression, or anxiety
- gastrointestinal symptoms
- low motivation or energy
- poor concentration and focus
- a lack of coordination, leading to errors or accidents
- worry or anxiety about sleeping
- using medication or alcohol to fall asleep
- tension headaches
- difficulty socializing, working, or studying
A lack of sleep is a key factor in motor vehicle accidents, according to experts.
Insomnia can be classified by duration:
- Acute, transient insomnia is a short-term problem.
- Chronic insomnia can last for months or years.
Doctors also classify it by cause:
- Primary insomnia is an issue by itself.
- Secondary insomnia is a result of another health issue.
In addition, they classify it by severity:
- Mild insomnia involves a lack of sleep that leads to tiredness.
- Moderate insomnia may affect daily functioning.
- Severe insomnia has a significant impact on daily life.
When determining the type of insomnia, doctors often consider other factors, including whether the person regularly wakes up too early or has trouble:
- falling asleep
- staying asleep
- getting restorative sleep
The best approach will rely on the underlying cause and insomnia type, but some alternatives include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT
- prescription medications
- over-the-counter sleep aids
There is not ample clear proof, however, to show that melatonin helps with sleep.
Home care strategies
A number of remedies and tips can help manage insomnia. They involve changes to:
When possible, it can help to:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times, establishing a routine.
- Avoid using any device with a screen right before bed.
- Start winding down an hour before bedtime, for example, by taking a bath.
- Keep telephones and other devices outside of the bedroom.
- Ensure that the room is a comfortable temperature before bedtime.
- Use blackout blinds or curtains to darken the room.
- Avoid going to bed hungry. Have a healthy snack before bed, if necessary.
- However, avoid eating a heavy meal within 2–3 hours of going to bed.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, especially at night.
- Have a healthful, varied diet to boost overall well-being.
Other health issues
Anyone with acid reflux or a cough might benefit from one or more extra pillows to lift their upper body.
Ask your doctor for ways to treat your cough, pain, and any other sleep-affecting symptoms.
Well-being and relaxation
- Exercise regularly, but not within 4 hours of bedtime.
- Do breathing and relaxation exercises, especially before sleeping.
- Find something that helps you sleep, such as soothing music or reading.
- Try not to nap during the day, even if you feel sleepy.
- Receive medical attention for any mental health issues, such as anxiety.
A sleep specialist can help diagnose and treat sleep problems. They may:
- ask the person about their medical history, sleep patterns, and use of drugs and alcohol
- do a physical examination
- test for underlying conditions
- request an overnight sleep test to record sleep patterns
- suggest wearing a device that tracks movement and sleep-wake patterns
A doctor may diagnose insomnia according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, if:
- A person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- This happens at least three nights a week for 3 months, despite sufficient opportunities for sleep.
- There is a negative impact on daily life.
- No other issue can explain it.
In a diary, it will help to monitor sleep habits and show the doctor the results.
At any age, insomnia can occur but some factors increase the risk. They include:
- traveling across time zones
- working in shifts
- being older
- using caffeine, medications, drugs, or alcohol
- having a family history of insomnia
- experiencing significant life events
- being pregnant
- going through menopause
- having certain physical or mental health conditions
- being female
Insomnia is a frequent issue. It may emerge from a variety of problems that may include physical or mental health. They are environmental or contribute to lifestyle factors in certain situations, such as shift work and consumption of caffeine or alcohol.
A lack of sleep can lead to a number of issues, from moderate fatigue to chronic illness.
Anyone who has continuing sleeping issues and thinks that their daily life is disturbed should see a doctor who can help determine the cause and prescribe a remedy.
- Buysse, D. J. (2013). Insomnia.
- Drowsy driving and automobile crashes. (n.d.).
- Fatal familial insomnia. (2018).
- What is insomnia? Everything you need to know (LINK)
- Hale, H., et al. (2019). Youth screen media habits and sleep: Sleep-friendly screen-behavior recommendations for clinicians, educators, and parents.
- Insomnia. (2018).
- Insomnia. (n.d.).
- Khan, A. M., et al. (2015). Mobile devices and insomnia: Understanding risks and benefits.
- Melatonin: What you need to know. (2019).
- Neel, A. B. (2013). 10 types of meds that can cause insomnia.
- Nuutinen, T., et al. (2013). Do computer use, TV viewing, and the presence of the media in the bedroom predict school-aged children’s sleep habits in a longitudinal study?.
- One in four Americans develops insomnia each year. (2018).
- Saddichha, S. (2010). Diagnosis and treatment of chronic insomnia.
- Sleep and chronic disease. (2018).
- Sleep and sleep disorders. (2017).
- Tepper, D. (2015). Sleep disorders and headache.
- Treatments for sleep changes. (n.d.).
- Wood, B., et al. (2013). Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression.