Insomnia

Insomnia

As quoted by the New York Times:
“Americans are taking sleeping pills like never before. About 42 million sleeping pills prescriptions where filled last year”.” More sleeping pills are used in the United States as a result of our modern day lifestyle”.” Careful investigation and history are needed to overcome this problem”

What causes Insomnia?

Insomnia is a result of another problem and has a wide variety of causes including.

Psychological factors: Some people are more predisposed genetically. This together with a precipitating event such as loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job or other major life events could lead to insomnia. Some people turn to the following in order to deal with these stresses, which are non productive.

Use of stimulants: As caffeine, nicotine and some over the counter medications can alter sleep if chronically used
Alcohol: The majority thinks that it helps people to sleep. Yes, it makes you fall asleep, but it also makes you sleep more broken throughout the night.
Other factors: This could include erratic work hours, shift work, periodic leg movement, GERD, inactive behavior, a quiet lifestyle or misuse or overuse of sleeping pills.
What is sleep and why do we sleep?

Sleep is a phenomenon that needs to take place to pay a debt accumulated during the day. There are several research theories to why we sleep ranging from temperature regulation and immune system protection to brain energy restoration. Sleep is a complex phenomenon with many neurotransmitters regulating it and keeping it checked to assure adequate body function during sleep as well as awakening.

What is the impact of insomnia on your daily life and activity?

If you have not slept well, during the day you will experience:

Decreased energy
Poor memory
Poor intellectual functions Fine,
complex functions are impaired
Mood alteration
Decreased productivity
Increased use of stimulants such as coffee and tea, that will later affect your heart and disturb your sleep even more
During the night you will experience:

Increased frustration
Decreased intimacy to loved ones
Increased worry about the next day’s responsibilities
Months and years of this problem could result in loss of job, relationships and depression.
Does everyone who has difficulty sleeping have insomnia?

No, this is simply not true. Sleep misperception is an entity where an individual believes he or she is not sleeping well despite a good adequate sleep time on a sleep study. Therefore, history taking and a sleep study can better outline true versus false insomnia.

When should you seek help?

If your sleep has been disturbed for more than one month and it has affected your daily performance or your current job.

How we can help you?

A sleep specialist will perform a full history & examination to outline all possible predisposing and precipitating factors. Then a sleep study and/or actigraphy (a device used to evaluate the pattern and duration of your sleep) will be done. Once that is complete a treatment plan will be directed according to our findings.

Insomnia Overview

Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other conditions.

Chronic insomnia is usually a result of stress, life events or habits that disrupt sleep. Treating the underlying cause can resolve the insomnia, but sometimes it can last for years.

Common causes of chronic insomnia include:

  • Stress. Concerns about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events or trauma — such as the death or illness of a loved one, divorce, or a job loss — also may lead to insomnia.
  • Travel or work schedule. Your circadian rhythms act as an internal clock, guiding such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and body temperature. Disrupting your body’s circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia. Causes include jet lag from traveling across multiple time zones, working a late or early shift, or frequently changing shifts.
  • Poor sleep habits. Poor sleep habits include an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for work, eating or watching TV. Computers, TVs, video games, smartphones or other screens just before bed can interfere with your sleep cycle.
  • Eating too much late in the evening. Having a light snack before bedtime is OK, but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. Many people also experience heartburn, a backflow of acid and food from the stomach into the esophagus after eating, which may keep you awake.

Chronic insomnia may also be associated with medical conditions or the use of certain drugs. Treating the medical condition may help improve sleep, but the insomnia may persist after the medical condition improves.

Additional common causes of insomnia include:

  • Mental health disorders. Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, may disrupt your sleep. Awakening too early can be a sign of depression. Insomnia often occurs with other mental health disorders as well.
  • Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain antidepressants and medications for asthma or blood pressure. Many over-the-counter medications — such as some pain medications, allergy and cold medications, and weight-loss products — contain caffeine and other stimulants that can disrupt sleep.
  • Medical conditions. Examples of conditions linked with insomnia include chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Sleep-related disorders. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing periodically throughout the night, interrupting your sleep. Restless legs syndrome causes unpleasant sensations in your legs and an almost irresistible desire to move them, which may prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Drinking them in the late afternoon or evening can keep you from falling asleep at night. Nicotine in tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes awakening in the middle of the night.

Insomnia and aging

Insomnia becomes more common with age. As you get older, you may experience:

  • Changes in sleep patterns. Sleep often becomes less restful as you age, so noise or other changes in your environment are more likely to wake you. With age, your internal clock often advances, so you get tired earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. But older people generally still need the same amount of sleep as younger people do.
  • Changes in activity. You may be less physically or socially active. A lack of activity can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Also, the less active you are, the more likely you may be to take a daily nap, which can interfere with sleep at night.
  • Changes in health. Chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis or back problems as well as depression or anxiety can interfere with sleep. Issues that increase the need to urinate during the night ―such as prostate or bladder problems ― can disrupt sleep. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome become more common with age.
  • More medications. Older people typically use more prescription drugs than younger people do, which increases the chance of insomnia associated with medications.

Insomnia in children and teens

Sleep problems may be a concern for children and teenagers as well. However, some children and teens simply have trouble getting to sleep or resist a regular bedtime because their internal clocks are more delayed. They want to go to bed later and sleep later in the morning.

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night. But your risk of insomnia is greater if:

You’re a woman. Hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle and in menopause may play a role. During menopause, night sweats and hot flashes often disrupt sleep. Insomnia is also common with pregnancy.
You’re over age 60. Because of changes in sleep patterns and health, insomnia increases with age.
You have a mental health disorder or physical health condition. Many issues that impact your mental or physical health can disrupt sleep.
You’re under a lot of stress. Stressful times and events can cause temporary insomnia. And major or long-lasting stress can lead to chronic insomnia.
You don’t have a regular schedule. For example, changing shifts at work or traveling can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

Insomnia symptoms may include:

Difficulty falling asleep at night
Waking up during the night
Waking up too early
Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
Irritability, depression or anxiety
Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
Increased errors or accidents
Ongoing worries about sleep

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