Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is not that rare. Despite its occurrence, many people still fail to understand its causes and consequences. Here are four things you should know about insomnia, and how to combat it.
1. What is insomnia?
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, and as opposed to many different medical conditions, it has a pretty simple definition – the inability to sleep. There are a few distinct characteristics of insomnia such as not being able to fall asleep, waking up earlier in the morning, and not being able to stay asleep throughout the night. To be more specific, there are two distinct types of insomnia.
The first type is the acute type, and the second is chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia refers to an insomnia type where you have trouble sleeping for a short time, even if it’s for just one night. Chronic insomnia, however, is the bigger issue. While everyone gets acute insomnia once in a while, chronic insomnia is less common but more severe. Chronic insomnia means having difficulty falling asleep for three or more days per week over a few months. It also disrupts daytime functionality because people are sleepy, irritable, or anxious and have a hard time focusing on tasks.
2. What causes insomnia?
There have been many studies that have been exploring the potential causes of insomnia. The general opinion is that the type of insomnia someone experiences has plenty to do with the underlying cause of it. The possible causes for acute insomnia could be things like stress, a traumatic event, any type of physical pain or illness, jet lag, some medications, and any changes to existing sleeping habits. The cause of acute insomnia could also be a combination of any of these reasons.
Chronic insomnia also has multiple potential causes, which are more severe than the causes of acute insomnia. For example, chronic pain conditions such as back pain can cause chronic insomnia. Furthermore, conditions such as sleep apnea, any heart conditions like diabetes, GERD, or cancer can severely impact chronic insomnia. In addition to physical medical conditions, psychological issues can also cause chronic insomnia. People who suffer from anxiety and depression also experience chronic insomnia.
3. There are ways to sleep better
If you’ve been experiencing either chronic or acute insomnia, there are many steps you can take towards improving your sleep before asking for professional help. Many sleep medicine specialists will tell you that the most common recommendation to people who experience insomnia is to try and keep a regular sleep schedule. This means to lock down the time when one goes to bed and when they wake up. Having a regular sleep schedule will help regulate the circadian rhythm better and will increase the ability to remain awake during the day, and sleep during the night.
Other ways to regulate insomnia can be found all around the internet, on websites that have dedicated their time to exploring ways to improve sleeping habits. For example, websites such as Rouse Good, and many others, note that staying active and creating a quiet bedroom environment significantly reduce insomnia. Being active for at least two hours a day has shown a tremendous improvement in sleeping habits. In addition to this, removing TVs and smartphones from the bedroom also helps a lot. Ultimately, reducing caffeine intake in total or at least nine hours before bedtime can also help alleviate insomnia.
4. Sleep disorders are common
You may be wondering how common acute and chronic insomnia are. Sleep disorders, in general, affect up to 60 million people across The United States. To be more specific, insomnia symptoms show up in 30-50 % of adults, while chronic insomnia associated with distress occurs in about 10% of adults. These numbers are not small, showing just how common insomnia is, and how important it is to find resources to deal with it.
This begs the question of how much sleep do people need. Most adults will require at least seven and nine hours at most (per night). Not only this but the quality of the rest matters just as much as the quantity. The sleep habits of famous people like Elon Musk have been reported to sleep for only five hours, however, this can have big health issues down the line. Establishing a good sleeping routine, a fixed amount of hours, and improving the bedroom are just some starter things you can do to improve sleep.
There are many resources online nowadays that can help with the causes and consequences of insomnia. Many websites have specialized in researching how to get help for insomnia, and there are many specialists to turn to if this fails. Insomnia can be cured.