What is insomnia? How to treat it!

What is insomnia? How to treat it! 2
What is insomnia? How to treat it! 3
asian man in bed suffering insomnia and sleep disorder thinking about his problem at night

Introduction

Are you having trouble falling fast asleep? If so, there are chances that you have insomnia. It is a very complicated condition. Hence, it is important to understand the causes and find out ways so that you can have a good nights’ sleep. 

If you are finding it hard to fall asleep or remaining asleep, you are suffering from insomnia. People suffering from this sleep disorder are not satisfied with their quality of sleep. They may even suffer from other symptoms such as mood swings, low energy, decreased concentration, and weak performance at school or at work.

What is the main cause of insomnia?

It has been found out that insomnia may last for a few days and tends to fade away on its own. This happens when it is associated with a temporary cause such as jet lag, a painful breakup, or stress for a stipulated period. But other times it is connected with a physical or an underlying mental issue.

Sleep disorders – Although insomnia is itself a sleep disorder, it can also be a sign of other sleeping disorders. This may include restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. However, it may include circadian rhythm disturbances when it is connected to late-night work shifts or jet lag.

Illness or medical problems – Certain diseases and medical conditions may contribute to the cause of insomnia. These include allergies, hyperthyroidism, asthma, acid reflux, cancer, kidney disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Chronic pain is one of the common reasons for developing insomnia. 

Stress, anxiety, and depression – If you have chronic insomnia, there are chances that you may be suffering from these conditions. Having difficulty sleeping can make depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms worse. However, there are other common psychological and emotional causes that result in these symptoms. They include trauma, bipolar disorder, grief, worry, and anger. It becomes necessary to treat these hidden problems for resolving insomnia.

Medications – Prescription drugs may interfere with your sleep patterns. These include antidepressants, thyroid hormone, corticosteroids, stimulants for ADHD, contraceptives, and medications for high blood pressure. Certain medications for cold and flu that contain alcohol, diuretics, slimming pills, and pain relievers containing caffeine cause discomfort in your sleep. 

How can I stop my insomnia?

What is insomnia? How to treat it! 4
Photo of a young woman lying in bed at night, wide awake with a case of insomnia

When you are suffering from insomnia, there are certain things you can alter in your lifestyle and behavior so that it can help you sleep. Here are some tips for stopping insomnia.

Wake up at a definite time daily – If you are facing trouble because of insomnia, make it a habit to wake up at the same time every day. This will program you to wake at a definite time every morning.

Exercise regularly – It will improve the duration and quality of your sleep. Don’t exercise right before bedtime because it will have a stimulant effect on your body. The gap should be of 3 hours between exercise and going to bed. 

Limit naps – While it may be tempting to take a nap for catching up on lost sleep, but it is not helpful. You need to organize and maintain a sleep pattern. Train yourself to connect with sleep through a consistent bedtime. Napping affects the quality of sleep at night.

Limit activities while going to sleep – When you suffer from insomnia, it is better not to study, make phone calls, listen to the radio, and watch TV. These activities will increase alertness and you will have difficulty in falling asleep.

Don’t eat and drink right before bedtime – When you take a late dinner or snack before bedtime, it activates the digestive system and keeps you awake. Quite similar, drinking plenty of fluids prior to sleep will require frequent visits to the toilet and disturbs your sleep.

Make your bedroom comfortable – Lighting, noise, and temperature of your bedroom should be controlled to aid fast asleep. Make use of a comfortable firm mattress and pillow for deep sleep.

Keep your worries out of the bedroom – If you want to review your day, or plan for the following day, set aside sometime after having dinner and work on them. Make sure to avoid these things while trying to sleep.

Avoid alcohol, stimulants, and caffeine – Alcohol will lead to frequent arousals during the night and hamper your sleep. Consult a doctor if you are on medications that have stimulating effects so that they can’t interfere in your sleep. Caffeine makes it difficult to initiate sleep and keep you awake. 

Can you die from insomnia?

This question can keep you up all night. When you are around insomnia, you are never really awake and never really asleep. Lack of sleep will make it harder for you to go through the day. It gives rise to a host of other medical conditions as well. 

Does insomnia actually prove lethal? This is the most common question among the people suffering from insomnia. It appears that there is a lot of misinformation about the harmful effects of insomnia. There are some people who overemphasis the negative aspects of insomnia, whereas some others claim that nothing catastrophic will happen.

Dying from lack of sleep worries many insomnia patients. Some research conducted on rats has shown that sleep deprivation for about 3 weeks has resulted in their deaths. Randy Gardner is the only person in the world who stayed awake for 11 days. Other than sleepiness, he didn’t suffer more. He recovered completely after sleeping for 14 hours. 

However, some researchers from the University of Arizona have found out that people struggling with chronic insomnia are very likely to have a premature death. Persons with persistent insomnia have chances to die from lung or heart problems. Chronic insomnia can be the indirect cause of death in many cases.

It is seen that insomnia is the direct cause of death for a very small number of cases. Fatal familial insomnia or FFI is an extremely rare genetic disease. It leads to dementia, exhaustion, and ultimately death. People who have FFI can’t sleep and stays in between sleeping consciousness and normal waking. 

What are the 3 types of insomnia?

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Insomnia has been categorized into 3 types and measured by the duration of time you are having it. They are transient, acute & chronic. Each of these types has its own causes. No matter how major your condition is, insomnia can be cured in most cases with proper treatment. Here are the 3 different types of insomnia.

Transient insomnia – This type of insomnia stays for a few days or last for a week. All the effects of transient insomnia are of short term. Hence, you tend to return to your regular sleep once the time has been passed. During this stage, you need to maintain a calm and steady sleep routine. Allow sleep to happen naturally. Transient insomnia is caused by:

  • Stress, worry
  • Illness
  • Jet lag, from long-distance flights
  • Excitement about a vacation
  • Sleeping in a new environment
  • Change in sleep pattern

Acute insomnia – This one will stay for several weeks. When you are suffering from acute insomnia, all you need to do is follow some good sleep practices. These include avoiding stimulants after evening and sticking to usual sleep patterns. Acute insomnia is caused by short-term changes in your mind. This may obstruct your sleep timing. When this problem continues, your body associates with a poor sleep environment. This creates a cycle of insomnia. It is caused by:

  • A longer illness
  • Upset or stressed
  • After the death of a closed one

Chronic insomnia – It is considered as long-term insomnia that can continue for months to years, and beyond. One out of every ten people tends to suffer from this type of sleep disorder. During this stage of insomnia, you will suffer from many sleep deprivations effects. The causes of chronic insomnia are similar to that of the acute one. Here are the causes.

  • Unfavorable sleep environment
  • Pre-existing health problems
  • Stress and anxiety for a prolonged time
  • Mistiming of sleep

What foods cause insomnia?

Insomnia casts a serious impact on your health and well-being. Several studies have found out that some portions of your diet may contribute to insomnia. A study from Columbia University lay stress that diet rich in carbohydrates especially with added sugars can influence your sleep quality. There is a higher risk of having insomnia.

To understand if there was a connection between choices in diet and the risk of having insomnia, the researchers worked on finding a relation between them. Surprisingly, the team found a probable connection between a diet full of refined carbohydrates and an increased risk of insomnia. 

These include foods rich in added sugars, white rice, soda, and white bread. However, the researchers pointed out that the analysis was unclear whether eating refined carbohydrates may lead to insomnia, or people who were struggling with insomnia tend to consume those foods especially the sugary ones. 

The researchers found that the mechanism might help them to understand that sugar causes sleep disruptions. When the levels of sugar raise quickly, your body releases insulin. The decrease in blood sugar leads to the release of certain hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These elements interfere with sleep. 

The study furthers states that all sugar-containing foods won’t lead to the same effect. Vegetables and fruits contain natural sugar. They won’t raise the blood sugar levels as compared to foods that contain added sugars. 

Do bananas help with insomnia?

When you are experiencing sleeping issues and don’t know how to cope up with it, the healthy way to overcome this situation is to try out natural remedies by eating the right kind of food. Several experts say that consuming the foods rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, tryptophan, and vitamin B may help to relieve insomnia.

Bananas will help you to get a good sleep. Next time when you will have trouble falling fast asleep, grab a banana from the kitchen instead of taking a sleeping pill. Many studies have shown that sleep and bananas are connected with each other. That’s because of the nutritional values found in bananas. 

Bananas are rich in calcium, potassium, protein, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and biotin. Banana is very low in calories and eating them before bedtime doesn’t cause any problems with your sleep. When you eat a banana before bedtime, it will optimize the nutrients for a good night’s sleep. 

Deficiency in potassium, vitamins, magnesium, and tryptophan (an amino acid) can lead to sleep problems. Bananas have magnesium at high levels. Magnesium is greatly helpful in combatting insomnia. As such, you will have a fast and good quality of sleep. 

Potassium along with magnesium helps to relax nerves and muscles, promote healthy digestion, and regulates blood pressure. Deficiency in potassium causes cramping, heart irregularities, and fatigue. As such, it affects sleep. Vitamins and tryptophan are very helpful in encouraging deep sleep. 

Is insomnia a mental illness?

When you have poor quality sleep, it will take you down, stressed, and worried. Hence, there is no surprise that the quality of sleep cast a direct impact on your physical and mental well-being. Insomnia is a common sign of much mental illness. These may include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and schizophrenia. 

The relationship between mental illness and insomnia acts in both directions. That means they are bidirectional. Studies show that about 50% of adults struggling with insomnia are having a mental illness. Whereas, about 90% of adults suffering from depression are experiencing insomnia. 

There are possibilities that insomnia can create a slow recovery from any kind of mental illness. It is seen that people who have depression and continue to suffer from insomnia, can’t respond to certain treatments used for curing depression. Their conditions seem to worsen day by day as compared to people without sleep disorders.

However, there is still more research to come to show how insomnia can make a person develop a mental illness. Some studies show that it affects your ability to compute negative emotions. In another study, it was found that sleep-deprived people emotionally react to unpleasant images as compared to the pleasing ones. 

The brain scans conducted in one research show that people suffering from insomnia have shown activity in the emotional processing area of the brain. This study reflects that insomnia makes it hard to react to negative emotions. 

What is a person with insomnia called?

A person who is struggling with insomnia is called an insomniac. Any person can be an insomniac, provided they can’t sleep because they have trouble in doing that. The reason for this behavior can be many. An insomniac tends to stare at the ceiling without any trace of tiredness throughout the entire night.

An insomniac person will watch every minute that the clock will display on it. They will have a hard time falling asleep. A recommended 8-hour sleep is necessary for your body to perform all the activities the following day. But insomniacs don’t get enough sleep, and not even close to the suggested hours of sleep.

If you are an insomniac, the thing is that you won’t need sleep. The irony is that even if you want to have some good sleep, you can’t get any at all. Insomniacs have to face a difficult time obtaining a sound sleep or find it extremely hard to continue staying asleep.

Is insomnia lifelong?

As you have known the reasons for the underlying causes of insomnia, it may be possible for you to consider whether it will remain for a lifetime, or not. The reason that insomnia can develop over time can’t be changed. Hence, given this understanding, insomnia may continue or reoccur in the near future.

For a clear understanding, consider insomnia as a rock that is submerged under a lake. When the water levels will drop significantly, the rock will get noticed. Insomnia can come back again in your life in a similar way. The related factors that will create this susceptibility can’t be changed. It is genetically determined within your brain.

However, the good news is that those triggers or factors may be intervened. As such, many of them will get resolved on their own. For instance, a night of no sleep before an exam will vanish away soon as the exam is over. Many other symptoms can be reduced once they are identified properly. 

The CBTI (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) is considered as an effective treatment for coping with insomnia and manages to do what has been mentioned. A professional will identify the triggers for insomnia and help to defuse them. In general, medications are used in treating insomnia. But many people avoid it because of the side effects of sleeping pills.

It is very important to discuss any chronic issues that may contribute to insomnia. This sleep disorder co-exists with depression or anxiety. These medical conditions often continue if the other one is left untreated. When insomnia is related to certain sleep environment problems, it should be addressed prior to providing relief.

Conclusion

Insomnia is a pretty common sleeping disorder where you find it hard to fall asleep, remain asleep for a longer time or both. People suffering from insomnia often tend to make necessary changes in their lifestyle with the hope that they may improve the situation.

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