Everyone needs to sleep, one of the primary functions of sleep is to reset and replenish the emotional capacity of our brain circuits so we can approach the day’s emotional challenges in appropriate ways. However, there are the unfortunate ones who go through annoying sleep problems.
Sleep problems are a highly common medical issue that affects millions of people each year. While some people suffer from mild sleeping problems, such as occasional nightmare, others have extremely severe sleep disorders that can negatively affect their health, if it left untreated. This astonishing number means that a huge number of people aren’t getting the treatment they need, putting them in danger of permanently damaging their health. If one doesn’t get enough sleep, he or she will eventually make irrational choices due to lack of concentration. If this lack of sleep constantly hounds a person, he or she might be having some sort of a sleeping disorder such as insomnia.
Insomnia is a condition in which a person have trouble falling or staying asleep. Some people with insomnia may be able to get asleep fast but they just as easily wake up. Other people may have the opposite problem, or they have trouble with both falling asleep and staying asleep. The end result is poor-quality sleep that doesn’t leave one feeling refreshed when he or she wakes up.
Insomnia includes any combination of difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep, intermittent wakefulness and early-morning awakening. Episodes may be transient, short term or chronic. Insomnia may also result from psychological or physical causes. The most common psychological problems include anxiety, stress, and depression. Many people will have insomnia during the acute phases of a mental illness. Other medical conditions that trigger insomnia are chronic pain syndromes, congestive heart failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Alzheimer’s Disease.
Common stimulants associated with poor sleep include caffeine and nicotine. One should consider not only restricting caffeine use in the hours immediately before bedtime but also limiting the total daily intake. People often use alcohol to help induce sleep, as a nightcap. However, it is a poor choice. Alcohol is associated with sleep disruption and creates a sense of non-refreshed sleep in the morning. A disruptive bed partner with loud snoring or periodic leg movements also may impair one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Insomnia can be mild to severe depending on how often it occurs and for how long. Chronic insomnia means having symptoms at least three nights per week for more than a month. Insomnia that lasts for less time is known as short-term or acute insomnia. Secondary insomnia often resolves or improves without treatment if an individual can eliminate its cause. This is especially true if the problem can be corrected soon after it starts.
Fortunately, there are treatments for insomnia that can help put a person back on the path to a good night’s sleep. There are cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), hypnotics (FDA approved medications for insomnia), and other treatments such as low dose antidepressant medications.
Better sleep habits and lifestyle changes often help relieve insomnia. One may need to see a doctor or sleep specialist to get the best relief for insomnia that is persistent or for which the cause of the sleep problem is unclear.