Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can disrupt one’s life. Characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, insomnia can have a profound impact on an individual’s physical and mental well-being. Sleep is a necessity which leads the organs in the body to rest, allows the body to repair and recharge itself, and refreshes the mind. 

1 in 10 Australians experience some form of Insomnia in their life. This is more prominent with age and is also more common in females than males. A report commissioned by Sleep health foundation Australia states that more than half of adult Australians are suffering with at least one chronic sleep symptom out of which 14.8% of people have symptoms that could result in a diagnosis of clinical insomnia. 

Types Of INSOMNIA

Insomnia can be classified into several types based on its duration and underlying causes. Here are the main types of insomnia.

  • Acute Insomnia: This is a short-term condition lasting a few nights to a few weeks. It is often triggered by a specific event or stress, such as a significant life change, trauma, or a stressful situation. Acute insomnia tends to resolve once the situation that causes the stress is addressed or the individual adapts to the change. 
  • Chronic Insomnia: This is a long-term condition. A person is diagnosed with chronic insomnia if the sleeplessness lasts for at least three nights a week for three months or more. Chronic insomnia may result from a combination of factors, including underlying health conditions, persistent stress, ongoing life issues, or the presence of another sleep disorder, mental health issues or hormonal changes (prominently in women). It often requires comprehensive intervention for management. 
  • Childhood Insomnia: Primarily seen in infants and young children. Some of the symptoms of this type of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep or resisting bedtime, often due to bedtime routines or behavioural issues. Behavioural patterns and parental responses can contribute to sleep difficulties in children, necessitating intervention to establish healthy sleep habits.

What Are The Causes Of INSOMNIA?

There are many causes for Insomnia, primarily relevant to poor sleep hygiene, underlying medical conditions, stress and more. Some of the main causes of insomnia are: 

  • Stress and Anxiety: Persistent stress and anxiety such as work-related pressure, relationship issues, or major life changes can contribute to insomnia by making it difficult for individuals to relax and quiet their minds before bedtime.  
  • Poor Sleep Hygiene: Irregular sleep schedules, lack of a bedtime routine, and exposure to the blue light of electronic devices before bedtime can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep. 
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions such as chronic pain, asthma, obstructive sleep apnoea, gastrointestinal issues, menopausal changes, mental health disorders can interfere with sleep. 
  • Medications: Some medications, such as certain antidepressants, stimulants, and medications for asthma or blood pressure, may have insomnia as a side effect. 
  • Environmental Factors: Noise, light, and an uncomfortable sleep environment can contribute to insomnia. Shift work and irregular work hours can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, making it challenging to establish a consistent sleep pattern. 

What Are The Symptoms Of INSOMNIA?

The symptoms of insomnia can vary in intensity and duration. Here are the common symptoms associated with insomnia: 

  • Difficulty Falling Asleep 
  • Frequent Awakenings 
  • Waking Up Too Early 
  • Waking up feeling unrefreshed and tired 
  • Low energy levels, lethargy, and a general sense of tiredness during the day. 
  • Irritability and Mood Disturbances 
  • Difficulty Concentrating and Memory Impairment 
  • No motivation to do regular work or attend school. 
  • Tension Headaches 
  • Physical Symptoms such as muscle aches, gastrointestinal discomfort, etc

When To Consult A Doctor?

If you are experiencing persistent insomnia or sleep difficulties that significantly impact your daily life and well-being, it is advisable to speak to a doctor. While occasional sleep disturbances are normal, chronic insomnia can have profound consequences for both physical and mental health.   

It is important for a doctor to understand the underlying conditions or stressors to begin the treatment plan. For example, the doctor might want to assess if pain, hormonal changes, digestive issues, or any other physical health conditions could be a cause for your Insomnia. If mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety are the causes for insomnia, the doctor might suggest getting onto the Mental health treatment plan. 

Sleeping habits, conditions, timings will be assessed to understand whether the patient has good sleep hygiene or if they are contributing to the insomnia.

What Is Good Sleep Hygiene?

Good sleep hygiene involves adopting healthy habits and practices to promote consistent and restful sleep. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can create an environment conducive to quality sleep. Here are some key components of good sleep hygiene: 

  • Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.  
  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in activities that signal to your body that it is time to wind down, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practising relaxation techniques. 
  • Make your bedroom comfortable and conducive to sleep. Ensure your mattress and pillows are supportive, and the room is cool, dark, and quiet.  
  • Limit Exposure to Screens Before Bed 
  • Maintain a healthy diet and do regular exercise, but avoid strenuous activity too close to bedtime
  • Avoid heavy meals and stimulating activities close to bedtime
  • Limit day-time naps or staying in bed for more than 8 – 9 hours. 
  • Manage Stress: Practise stress-reducing techniques. This may include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Manage worries and anxieties through relaxation methods. 
  • Be mindful of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other substances. Using alcohol as a sleep aid can disrupt sleep patterns and worsen insomnia in the long run.
Sleep is extremely important in ensuring a healthy body and mind for any individual. By adopting healthy sleep habits, managing stress, and seeking appropriate medical guidance, individuals can take proactive steps towards better sleep and overall well-being. If insomnia persists, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential to identify and address underlying factors contributing to sleep disturbances. 

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.