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Home / Mind / Sleep / Dear Sleep, I miss you! All about Insomnia and how to Treat it

Dear Sleep, I miss you! All about Insomnia and how to Treat it

“When you have insomnia you’re really never asleep and you’re really never awake.”

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is the feeling of poor-quality or inadequate sleep because of various reasons that does not leave a person feeling rested after an adequate duration of sleep. Remember, Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets; instead, depends upon the quality of sleep. The person experiences distress due to poor quality of sleep.

Insomnia

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What are the types of insomnia?

Insomnia can be classified as:

  • Episodic-Insomnia lasting from one month to three months is referred to as episodic.
  • Persistent– if the symptoms last for more than three months, the insomnia is referred to as persistent.
  • Recurrent– the insomnia is referred to as recurrent, if two or more episodes occur within the period of one year.

Who are more likely to experience insomnia?

Women, the elderly and individuals with a history of depression are more likely to experience insomnia. Factors such as stress, anxiety, a medical problem, or the use of certain medications make its occurrence more likely.

The diagnostic criteria of insomnia disorder include difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, and early-morning awakening with inability to return to sleep

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What causes insomnia?

  • Wake-sleep pattern disturbances
  • Chronic illnesses such as arthritis, Parkinson’s diseases, sleep apnea
  • Grief
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, food, or stimulants at bedtime
  • Excessive sleep during the day
  • Hyperactive thyroid
  • Taking a new drug
  • Alcoholism
  • Inadequate bright-light exposure during waking hours
  • Medications or illicit drugs
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Stroke

⇒ Situational or episodic insomnia can resolve on their own and generally occur in people who are temporarily experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Stress
  • Jet lag
  • Environmental noise
  • Shift work
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Change in the surrounding environment
  • Sleep/wake schedule problems such as those due to jet lag
  • Medication side effects
  • Loneliness
  • Ingesting excessive amounts of caffeine
  • Drinking alcohol before bedtime
  • Smoking cigarettes before bedtime
  • Excessive napping in the afternoon or evening
  • Irregular or continually disrupted sleep/wake schedules
Stopping these behaviors may eliminate the insomnia.

How can insomnia be treated?

Episodic or Situational insomnia does not require major treatments since the episodes last only for a few days at a time. For instance, if insomnia is due to change in sleeping schedule, then the person’s biological clock will reset on its own.

Chronic insomnia treatment trying behavioral techniques to improve sleep, such as reconditioning and relaxation therapy.

Insomnia treatment

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  • Reconditioning

Reconditioning may help some people with insomnia as it helps to recondition them to associate the bed and bedtime with sleep. As part of the reconditioning process, the person is usually advised to go to bed only when sleepy. If unable to fall asleep, the person is told to get up, stay up until sleepy and then return to bed. Throughout this process, the person should avoid naps and wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Eventually the person’s body will be conditioned to associate the bed and bedtime with sleep.

  • Relaxation Therapy

There are specific and effective techniques that can reduce or eliminate anxiety and body tension. As a result, the person’s mind is able to stop racing, the muscles can relax and restful sleep can occur. It usually takes practice to learn these techniques and to achieve effective relaxation.

Breaking the bad sleeping habits will also help you to get your sleep back. Some tips include avoiding caffeine and alcohol, keeping your bedroom dark, exercising for 20 minutes everyday and meditation.

So if you experience any kind of major sleeping issues, it is advice to consult a doctor. A good sleep can ensure a happy you and help you keep people around you happy too.  Remember, never to skimp on sleep.

“Sleep is the best medicine”

-Dalai Lama

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