Insomnia refers to a sleeping disorder where the individual finds it difficult to fall or stay asleep or both. Individuals who suffer from this sleep disorder often find it tough to fall asleep when they go to bed, wake up too early in the morning complaining that they are unable to continue sleeping for long, have a tendency to wake up often in the night and feel exhausted when they get up in the morning.
Such people often experience problems related to memory loss, find themselves getting irritated for nothing, experience difficulty in motor coordination, find it tough to concentrate on daily activities and are hesitant to interact freely and socially with others around.
Insomnia that arises out of an existing health problem, intake of medicines, pain or substances intake is often categorized as secondary insomnia whereas the disorder that arises out of a reason not associated with a health problem is termed as primary insomnia.
Based on the time duration for which insomnia is experienced, it can be of three different types. Transient Insomnia can last for a few days to a week, while acute insomnia lasts for one to three weeks and chronic insomnia lasts for more than 3 weeks.
The insomnia causes in case of the acute variant can be unavoidable changes in sleep patterns like shift changes and jet lag, illness or intake of medicines, environmental factors like noise, humid air or too high/low temperature levels and other physical or emotional discomforts.
Chronic Insomnia is usually caused due to medical or psychological conditions of the individual. The physiological factors constitute falling prey to pain and fatigue syndromes or degenerative diseases, trauma associated with prolonged illnesses and the like while the mental/psychological factors include acute stress, hallucinations/depressions, contraction of schizophrenia and the like.
- The scale of Epworth Sleepiness is often used to understand the day time sleepy feelings of the patients.
- Actigraphy is yet another technique that is used to get an idea about the daytime activities of the patients. It entails wearing of actigraphs, the small wrist worn devices, which are useful in monitoring the movements of the patients’ daytime activities.
- The medical practitioner might look for triggers that can cause insomnia in the patient. The triggers might include alcohol abuse, stressful scenarios and a thorough checkup of other medications taken by the patient. A personal note that keeps track of the sleeping time and day time activity proves to be utile in this regard.
Transient and acute insomnia usually do not need medications. They are short lived and can disappear with time as and when the trigger for it disappears. Developing good sleeping habits also help in curing acute insomnia. However, taking sleeping pills sold over the counter is highly discouraged. If this becomes unmanageable, it is better to seek the advice of a doctor.
In case of chronic insomnia, it is advisable to seek doctor’s help and resort to relaxation work outs, meditations and sleeping therapies that can bring down the agony experienced by chronic insomnia.