Insomnia Information

Health condition


People with insomnia have trouble getting quality or quantity of sleep and sometimes keep themselves awake by worrying about going to sleep. Keeping sleep in perspective can be difficult for people with insomnia and, they are normally frustrated or annoyed by it. This emotional state contributes to keeping them awake.

This problem can result from stress, jet lag, diet, or many other factors like an overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, violent muscle twitching, or drinking caffeine-containing beverages before going to bed, but experts estimate that in three-fourths of all cases the reason is a psychological one. Sleeping problems occur in almost all people going through emotional problems or have mental disorders, including those with depression and schizophrenia, and those who have just experienced traumatic events like death of a loved one or even losing one’s job.

People with depression, for example, often awaken in the early hours of the morning and find themselves unable to get back to sleep. The amount of sleep a person gets also strongly influences the symptoms of mental disorders. Sleep deprivation is an effective therapy for people with certain types of depression, while it can actually cause depression in other people. Another cause could be medical related. For example, problems like stroke and asthma attacks tend to occur more frequently during the night and early morning, perhaps due to changes in hormones, heart rate, and other characteristics associated with sleep.

Over one third of people experience insomnia from time to time, but only around five per cent need treatment for the condition. Sleep disorder can be short term, also known as transient insomnia or persistent insomnia.

Short insomnia is typically caused by stressful episodes like jet lag, change in sleeping environments, some acute medical illnesses and stimulant medications. Normal sleeping habits return once the acute event is over. Unlike the latter, the problem continues.

Persistent insomnia is also called chronic insomnia. The person will experience sleeping difficulties for a month or more and there are many causes of persistent insomnia. They can be categorised broadly into:

1) Secondary insomnia - due to a range of medical and psychiatric problems and the chronic use of drugs and alcohol.

2) Primary sleep disorders - include circadian rhythm disorders, central sleep apnoea-insomnia syndrome, inadequate sleep syndromes and periodic limb movement or restless legs syndromes.

3) Idiopathic insomnia - sleeplessness without a known cause, formerly called childhood onset insomnia.

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