7 MUST KNOW FACTS ABOUT INSOMNIA (SLEEPLESSNESS) WORLD SLEEP DAY SPECIAL: SUNDAY MIRROR

A very happy world sleep day

Insomnia or sleeplessness is a very common disease in recent times. Good sleep is a great treasure. It keeps us healthy both physically and mentally. We sleep for 1/3 rd of our life time. It’s the time when our brain consolidates it’s memories. But as health and diseases are like two sides of a coin, several sleep problems we encounter on day to day basis. Many people suffer due to lack of awareness.

#1: What is insomnia?

Insomnia or sleeplessness is one of the commonest sleep disease. It’s a disorder in which people have trouble in sleeping. They may have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep as long as desired. It’s typically followed by daytime sleepiness, irritability, mood changes, depression. It has secondary complications like increased risk of road traffic accidents, as well as problems focusing and learning. It reduces performances in day time. Insomnia can be short term, lasting for days or weeks, or long term, lasting more than a month.

#2: How common it is!!!

Insomnia or sleeplessness is very common in general population. Between 10% and 30% of adults have insomnia at any given point in time and up to half of people have insomnia in a given year.  About 6% of people have insomnia that is not due to another problem and lasts for more than a month. People over the age of 65 are affected more often than younger people. Females are more often affected than males. Insomnia is 40% more common in women than in men. Its more predominant in stressed people. In COVID-19 times many people suffered from insomnia due to apprehension and fear of pandemic. In young people insomnia has become relatively more common due to increased amount of stress.

#3: Types of insomnia

Insomnia can be transient or acute or chronic. Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. It causes impaired performances. It increases stress, subsequently increasing sleep deficit. Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month. It can continue from a single night to weeks. Insomnia is present when there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or when the sleep that is obtained is non-refreshing or of poor quality. These problems occur despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep and they must result in problems with daytime function. Acute insomnia is also known as short term insomnia or stress related insomnia. Chronic insomnia lasts for longer than three times a week over a month. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. People with high levels of stress hormones or shifts in the levels of cytokines are more likely than others to have chronic insomnia.

#4: Why it occurs?

There are various causes of insomnia. Bad lifestyle, stressful life, several neurological diseases, substance abuse, excess alcohol intake, stimulant drugs, heart diseases, several pain diseases are the primary causes of sleep deprivation. Several mental diseases like depression cause chronic insomnia. Change in time zone can cause insomnia. Some people suffer from sleeplessness due to change in sleep patterns and sleep times. Many females suffer from sleep deprivation due to hormonal changes. Breathing disorders, obesity cause recurrent apnea episode later causing sleep apnea. It causes sleep deprivation. Poor sleep hygiene is also a major cause of insomnia. Sometimes heavy exercise just before sleep causes sleep deficit.

#5: How to prevent it?

Prevention and treatment of insomnia may require change in lifestyle, going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day to create a steady pattern which may help to prevent insomnia. Avoidance of vigorous exercise and coffee a few hours before going to sleep is better habit, while exercise earlier in the day may be beneficial. Other practices for better sleep includes:

  • Avoiding or limiting day time naps
  • Pain medications at bedtime
  • Avoiding large meals, beverages like alcohol before bed
  • Soothing music before sleep
  • Avoid gadgets and blue light
  • Maintain regular exercise
  • Try to do regular meditation
  • Try relaxing activities before sleeping

# 6: When to visit a doctor?

If someone is having chronic insomnia, he/she should visit the neurologist. Many severe neurological conditions start with sleep problems. Sometimes other neurological problems are associated with it. Some patients might need psychiatric consultation. Some patients might need sleep studies. Those patients who are obese and have snoring problem should get evaluated for sleep apnea. In total people having prolonged sleep deficit should never neglect the problem, rather should get medical advice. People having problems of substance abuse should visit deaddiction centre for overcoming sleep deficits.

#7: What will happen when sleep deficit goes untreated?

Insomnia is dangerous both for physical and mental health. Severe insomnia – sleeping less than 3.5 hours in women and 4.5 hours in men – is associated with a 15% increase in death. Consequences of untreated insomnia may include, Impaired ability to concentrate, poor memory, difficulty coping with minor irritations, and decreased ability to enjoy family and social relationships. Reduced quality of life, often preceding or associated with depression and/or anxiety.

Sleep well- counter insomnia

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Reference

“What Is Insomnia?”NHLBI. 13 December 2011. Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016

Qaseem A, Kansagara D, Forciea MA, Cooke M, Denberg TD (July 2016). “Management of Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Adults: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians”Annals of Internal Medicine165 (2): 125–33. doi:10.7326/M15-2175PMID 27136449.

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