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Insomnia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

by Ana

Many adults suffer from Insomnia and sleeplessness at some time in their life. It is estimated that 30-50% of people are affected by this disease and 10% have severe Insomnia.

Insomnia is a disorder, in which it is very difficult to maintain or initiate sleep. The sleep is of poor quality and not peaceful.  Insomnia is therefore caused due to insufficient sleep. Insomnia is not characterized by the number of hours of sleep but it varies in the needs and practices.

Classification of Insomnia

Insomnia is classified as follows

  1. Transient Insomnia

    The symptoms of Insomnia lasting less than 1 week are known as Transient Insomnia.

  2. Short-term Insomnia

    The symptoms between 1-3 weeks are known as Short-term Insomnia.

  3. Chronic Insomnia

    Symptoms longer than 3 weeks are known as Chronic Insomnia.

Photo by : Mimi_K

Source by : flickr

Insomnia affects everyone, adults, men and women of any age. This condition increases with the increase in age. It is more common in the people of lower Socioeconomic groups, Alcoholics and mentally ill. Stress can also enhance an Acute Insomnia. If don’t treat Insomnia, it may change into Chronic Insomnia.

Surveys report that 30% to 35% of Americans find difficulty to sleep, during previous years. There is a link between Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia. People suffering from depression and Anxiety are more likely to develop Insomnia.

Causes of Insomnia

There are many causes for Insomnia. These causes can be classified into Situational Factors, primary Sleep Disorders and Psychiatric Conditions.

Causes of Transient and Short Term Insomnia

Following are the Causes

  • Jet Lag
  • Excessive noise
  • Unpleasant noise
  • Changes in routine
  • Extreme room temperature (very hot or very cold)
  • Stress
  • Surgical illness
  • Hospitalization
  • Withdrawal from drugs, Alcohol or medications
  • High Altitudes

Causes of Chronic Insomnia

Most of the causes of Chronic Insomnia are linked to the Psychiatric and Physiologic conditions.

Psychological Causes for Insomnia

Following are the causes

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional Stress
  • Mental Stress
  • Situational Stress
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mania

Physiological Causes for Insomnia

Following are the common causes of Insomnia. These causes can enhance severe Insomnia.

People who are at a Risk of Insomnia

  • Travelers
  • Seniors
  • Adolescents
  • Young students
  • Pregnant Women
  • Women in Menopause
  • Employees who work in shifts
  • Drug abusers
  • Alcoholics

Insomnia related to Medication

Certain medicines can cause Insomnia, which are

  • Asthma’s medications
  • Medicines of High Blood Pressure
  • Medications used to treat Schizophrenia, Anxiety and Depression

Photo by : babblingdweeb

Source by : flickr

Other Causes of Insomnia

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Snoring
  • Continuous Leg movement

Symptoms of Insomnia

Following are the symptoms of Insomnia:

  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Breathing Problems
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to sleep
  • Bad concentration
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Accident due to fatigue and lack of sleep

Diagnosis of Insomnia

If the symptoms of Insomnia last for more than 3 to 4 weeks then it requires a doctor’s attention.

  • If these symptoms cause difficulty in the person’s daily routine than it definitely needs an urgent check up by a doctor.
  • Insomnia is a symptom of a hidden situation and it should be addressed immediately.
  • People are not mostly hospitalized for this condition; the accidents may from lack of concentration and sleep.
  • Chronis pain and difficulty in breathing at night shows that a person requires urgent medical assistance.

Diagnosis of Insomnia

A doctor will start with the complete medical history. Medical history and physical examination is important for the treatment of Insomnia.

Doctor will identify any Psychological illness that may contribute to this disease.

A complete medical history, examination including tests for Psychiatric disorders, drugs and Alcohol is evaluated with the sleep problems.

Physical examination mostly focuses on the Heart, Lung examination and tests of neck and Nasal Air passages.

A doctor may ask about the severe snoring and weight gain. The doctor may take an overnight sleep test.
Studies are done in special “Sleep Labs” by the health practitioners in Sleep medicines with Pulmonary Specialists.
Sleep history is helpful for evaluating patients with Insomnia. Sleep routine, bedroom and Sleep habits are useful for the evaluation.

Use of medications, Alcohol, Drugs, stressful situations, Sleeping routine, Snoring, bed partner and work schedules are some of the topics that doctor discusses.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a questionnaire is used to assess the daytime Sleepiness.  This scale is helpful in the evaluation of Insomnia.

Actigraphy is another technique to evaluate the Sleep-wake patterns. It is a small, wrist-device that measures the movement. They contain Microprocessors that provide data on daytime activity.

Sleep diary is also maintained for r period of 2 weeks. The patients is requested to write the timings for going bed, fall asleep, awake from Sleep, stay wake on bed and getting up in the morning.

It diary will also record of daily exercise, Alcohol, Caffeine and intake of medicines.

Treatment of Insomnia

Transient Insomnia is treated when the underlying causes are corrected. Most people go for the medical treatment, when their condition becomes severe.

The main aim of the treatment for Insomnia is directed for finding the cause. If a cause is identified, then it is important control the disease.

Treating symptoms without addressing the main cause cannot be successful. In majority of cases, Severe Insomnia is cured if the Medical or Psychiatric causes are treated carefully.

Therapies are used to treat the underlying medical causes of this disease.

These therapies may include

  1. Non medical therapy or Behavioral Therapy
  2. Medical Therapy

Prevention of Insomnia

Following suggestion can help to reduce the symptoms of the Insomnia

  • Do exercise regularly.
  • Learn to relax.
  • Go for relaxation breathing.
  • Avoid noise, light and extreme temperatures.
  • Avoid reading books and watching TV on bed.
  • Sexual activity reduces the effects of Insomnia.
  • Maintain bedtime routine.
  • Avoid large meals
  • Avoid Nicotine, Caffeine and fluid intake.
  • Try relaxing activities like listening to music or reading books.
  • Restrict daytime Naps to 15 Minutes only.
  • Discuss the Sleep issues with your doctor too.

Prognosis of Insomnia

The recovery of Insomnia varies from a patient to patient:

  • If Insomnia is caused by Jet Lag, the symptoms will disappear in few days.
  • If it is caused due to depression and the symptoms are for many months, then it is likely that symptom will go on their own. You may need examination and treatment.
  • The result of the treatment depends on the medical conditions including (Heart Failure, Chronic Pain Syndrome and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease etc), underlying causes, treatment therapy and the stage when this condition is diagnosed.

The life of people has become fast and stressful. Many people are suffering from Insomnia now days. If the symptoms are severe they should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Insomnia is a curable disease and it has almost 100% chances of recovery.

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