What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep.

People with insomnia have a few symptoms ranging from difficulty falling asleep; waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; as well as feeling very tired after waking up.

Insomnia may appear trivial and otherwise unimportant until we ourselves have a few sleepless nights then we get to appreciate what beautiful gift sleep is.

To a person with insomnia; Sleep becomes the most desirable thing imaginable; and bestowing it is the best thing the person can do just like relieving pain. Insomnia is the body’s way of saying something isn’t right. No burden is heavier than a state of being in perpetual consciousness .

Many things cause insomnia- things like stress; too much caffeine; depression; changes in work shifts, and pain from a medical problem such as arthritis. Many people have insomnia and to them it is the greatest trouble any one can even encounter. People with insomnia literarily ‘beg’ for sleep and are willing to do anything in order for them to sleep peacefully.

There are two types of insomnia : primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
*Primary Insomnia: Primary Insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly related or associated with any other health problem or condition.

*Secondary Insomnia: means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else; such as a health condition like asthma; depression; arthritis; cancer or heart burn.

Insomnia also varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. It can be short term (acute insomnia) or can last a long time (chronic insomnia).It can also come and go; with periods of time when the person has no sleep problems. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks.

Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least 3 nights a week for a month or longer.

Insomnia is not really a serious problem for your health but it can make you feel tired; depressed and irritable. It can also make it hard for you to concentrate during the day. Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. You know you’re getting enough sleep when you don’t feel sleepy during the day. The amount of sleep you need stays about the same throughout adulthood. However; sleep patterns may change with age. For example older people may sleep less at night and take naps during the day.

Acute Insomnia can be caused by significant life stress (job loss or change; death of a loved one; divorce etc), Illness; Emotional or physical discomfort; Environmental factors like noise; light or extreme temperatures that may interfere with sleep; some medications such as those used to treat colds; allergies; depression; high blood pressure and asthma may all interfere with sleep and also changes in normal sleep patterns such as jetlag or switching from day to night shifts for example.

Chronic or long term insomnia is caused by depression and anxiety; chronic stress; also pain and discomfort at night.

It is important to note that insomnia may also cause problems with concentration and memory therefore; it is necessary to consult your health care provider if you think you have insomnia. An evaluation may include a physical exam; medical history as well as a sleep history.

You may be asked to keep a sleep diary for a week or two keeping track of your sleep patterns and how you feel during the day. Your health care provider may also want to interview your room mate or bed partner about the quantity and quality of your sleep.

The treatment of insomnia may or may not be simple. Often; when the cause of the insomnia is known and taken care of; the insomnia goes away. The key is to find out what is causing the insomnia so it can be taken care of directly. Simply making a few changes in sleep patterns helps many people.

Acute or short-term insomnia may require no treatment. Mild insomnia often can be cured and even prevented by practicing good sleep habits. If insomnia makes it difficult for you to concentrate during the day because you feel sleepy or tired; your health care provider may prescribe sleeping pills for a limited time.

Rapid onset; short acting drugs may can help you avoid the effects of drowsiness the following day. Avoid using over-the-counter sleeping pills for insomnia as they may have undesired side effects and tend to lose their effectiveness with time.

Treatment of long-standing or chronic insomnia may involve first treating any underlying problem or condition that may be causing the insomnia. If the insomnia continues; your health care provider may recommend behavioral approaches which will help you change behaviors that worsen insomnia and to learn new behaviors to promote sleep.

Techniques such as relaxation exercises; sleep restriction therapy; and reconditioning may be helpful.

Tips to make you sleep better includes the following: Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday including on weekends even if you didn’t get enough sleep. This will help to train your body to sleep at night.

Developing a bed time routine may also be useful. Do the same thing every night before going to bed. For example; take a warm bath and then read for a few minutes every night before going to bed. Soon you’ll connect with these activities with sleeping; and doing them repetitively will make you feel sleepy. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. If noise is a problem; use a fan to mask the noise or use ear plugs.

If you must sleep during the day; hang dark blinds over the window or wear an eye mask. Limiting your use of caffeine ( coffee; tea; chocolate)sodas; decongestants; alcohol and tobacco. Exercise more often but not before going to bed. Experts suggest not exercising for at least three to four hours before the time you go to bed.

Good sleep habits also called sleep hygiene; can help you get a good night’s sleep and beat insomnia. Here are some more tips :

*Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day.A light snack before bedtime;however may make you sleep.

*Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. Be sure that is a dark; quiet and not too warm or too cold place.

* A routine before bed such as listening to music; praying ; watching movies or playing games alone may also be helpful.

*Avoid using your bed for any other thing other than sleep or sex.

*If you can’t fall asleep or don’t feel drowsy; get up and read or do something that is not overly stimulating until you feel sleepy.

*If you find yourself staying awake worrying about things; try and make a to-do-list before going to bed. This may help you not to focus on the worries overnight.

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