Insomnia, also known as sleeplessness, is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for a consistent period of time even when the body is trying to shut down on its own. Having said that, insomnia is not a disease but a symptom, and it affects all age groups. However, the severity of it only increases with age. Each one of us, at some point of time in our lives, has had trouble going to sleep or maintaining it for a good period but that doesn’t mean that we are sleep deprived. Once in a while, it is natural to be unable to fall asleep. But facing sleeplessness constantly is something you should give a serious thought to. Unlike other medical conditions, insomnia doesn’t kill the body, but problems like excess fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, and poor concentration arising out of sleep deprivation are no less than a slow poison taking over the body and making us impaired. Those who have insomnia or have had it in the past know that it puts one in a purgatorial situation, neither here nor there. But it should be noted that deliberately staying awake doesn’t put you in a state of insomnia. It’s just a bad decision to be doing that unless it’s once in a blue moon. Treatment for insomnia depends on the state of it and their causes; so before moving on to it let’s discuss about the types of insomnia and their causes.
Types Of Insomnia And Their Causes
Transient insomnia generally lasts for less than a week, and is caused by stressful situations (divorce, death, exams etc.), jet lag, and changes in work hours, uncomfortable room temperature, and presence of some medical illness.
Acute or short term insomnia generally lasts for less than a month, and is caused by above disorders when they prolong themselves coupled with physical illnesses like pain, breathing problems, diarrhea, nasal and chest congestion, and fever.
Chronic or long term insomnia lasts for more than a month, and is caused by both psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, some sort of trauma, schizophrenia; and physical disorders like long term pain and fatigue, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Any of the above type of insomnia can also be caused by medications being prescribed for the disorders and intake of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before going to bed.
Treatment For Insomnia
The treatment for insomnia begins with proper diagnoses with your complete medical history in the hands of a qualified practitioner. The focus will be on a thorough examination and identification of the contributors to the problem. Most of the times, merely curing these causes is enough to induce sleep back into your life. Cure for insomnia can be provided by both non-medical and medical treatments.
Non Medical Treatment
Non medical treatment calls for designing and implementing proper sleep hygiene including exercising, shunning caffeinated beverages or alcoholic beverages and smoke. Eating properly before going to bed, adjusting the room temperature and lighting, following relaxation therapies (meditation, walking before going to bed, or light music), avoiding sleeping in the daytime and maintaining a regular sleep routine will definitely make a difference.
Medical treatment works best when combined with non-medical treatment. Medications like benzodiazepine and nonbenzodiazepine sedatives, ramelteon, antihistamines, melatonin, antidepressants, and valerian may be prescribed by the practitioner depending on the diagnoses and your current and previous medical state.
It’s better to seek treatment for insomnia than hoping and waiting for sleep to fall over you. Unless you eliminate the cause for your sleep deprivation, it’s no good waiting for sleep!