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Insomnia refers to trouble falling or staying asleep. It can affect someone for a short time, such as a few nights or weeks. In other cases, the sleep disorder is chronic and can last for months or years.

Types of Insomnia

There are a few main types including primary and secondary. The sleep disorder is considered primary when it is not caused by or associated with a medical condition

psychiatric problem or medication.

Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, is due to a medical condition, such as COPD or chronic pain, that is interfering with sleep.

Sleep Disorder Statistics

50-70 million adults have a sleep disorder 48.0% report snoring.

37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month.

4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month.

Drowsy driving is responsible for 40,000 fatalities and 200,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the word

Insomnia is the most common specific sleep disorder, with short term issues

reported by about 30% of adults and chronic insomnia by 10%

100 Million adults have obstructive sleep apnea

9-21% of women have obstructive sleep apnea

24-31% of men have obstructive sleep apnea

3–5% of the overall proportion of obesity in adults could be attributable to short sleep

Sleep Deprivation

37% of 20-39-year-olds report short sleep duration

40% of 40-59-year-olds report short sleep duration

35.3% adults report <7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period.

Causes of insomnia

In some instances, the cause of difficulty falling asleep cannot always be easily identified. But in other cases, it might be apparent what is causing problems falling or staying asleep. Below are a few common causes.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can interfere with getting proper shuteye. For example, COPD, GERD and congestive heart failure can all make it difficult to fall asleep. But physical conditions are not the only culprit. Psychological and emotional issues, such as stress, anxiety and depression, can leave you tossing and turning.

Medications

Side effects from certain medications can also make falling asleep difficult. SSRI antidepressants, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers may cause difficulty falling asleep in some people. Medications for emphysema, blood pressure and allergies can also sometimes lead to the sleep disorder. It’s also important to understand that people respond differently to medications. Even a drug that should not cause sleep disturbances may do just that in some people.

Disruption in circadian rhythm

We all have a natural sleep-wake rhythm. For most people, their circadian rhythm involves sleeping at night and being awake during the day. When this rhythm gets disrupted, it can cause it. Working overnight shifts and traveling across time zones are two factors that can alter your circadian rhythm. 500,000 deaths occur each year in hospitals due to medical errors

and sleep deprivation have been shown to make a significant contribution.

Environmental Factors

Sometimes our environment makes it difficult to fall asleep. Most people sleep best in a cool, dark and quiet environment. When your bedroom is not conducive to sleep, it can leave you wide awake or cause you to wake several times a night.

Risk factors for developing insomnia

It can affect anyone at any time in their life. But certain factors may increase your risk. For example, women are more likely than men to develop the sleep disorder.

According to a research, people over the age of 60 are also at a higher risk, possibly due to changes in sleep patterns as you age. Having an irregular sleep schedule is also a risk factor. For instance, if you go to bed at all different times or work different shifts, which disrupts your regular sleep hours, it can increase your chance of developing the sleep disorder.

Symptoms of Insomnia

The severity of symptoms may also vary. The sleep disorder can have an accumulative effect, which means the longer it goes on, the more severe symptoms may be. For instance, not getting a good night’s rest may leave you a little tired the next day. But if you don’t sleep well for a week or a month, you might feel the effects of sleep deprivation more severely.

Daytime sleepiness, Irritability, Problems concentrating, Fatigue and Forgetfulness.

Treatments for Insomnia

The treatment may depend on the cause. For example, treating an underlying medical condition may also cure it. Also, if a certain medication is to blame, switching to a different drug may help.

In other cases, over the counter or prescription medication may help treat it, especially in the short-term. Cognitive behavior therapy can also help some people overcome insomnia by decreasing anxiety and targeting the thoughts that cause poor sleep.

Sleep Needed by Age Group

Adult: 7 – 9 hours

Teenager: 8 – 10 hours

Child 6 – 12 years: 9- 12 hours

Child 3 – 5 years:  10 – 13 hours (including naps)

Child 1 – 2 years: 11 – 14 hours (including naps)

Infants 4 -12 months: 12 – 16 hours (including naps)

Self-Help Strategies for Treating Insomnia

In certain instances, self-help strategies may be all it takes to treat the sleep disorder. Following these non-medication-based actions is good first step to dealing with sleep problems.

Tips to treat your insomnia

Keep a sleep journal Consider recording your sleep patterns for a couple of weeks. Keeping a sleep diary can help you identify things that may be interfering with your sleep and make the needed changes.

Stick to a regular bedtime

Sticking to the same bedtime and waking the same time each day may help you get into a routine and improve your sleep.

Avoid caffeine several hours before bed

Caffeine is often a sleep stealer. Caffeine can stay in your system for several hours. Your best bet is to limit caffeine about four or five hours before bedtime.

Put away your cellphone, laptop and tablet

Your tech habits at bedtime may be preventing you from falling asleep. The light from your tech gadgets tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so the production of melatonin is decreased. Less melatonin may make falling asleep more difficult. Consider making your bedroom a tech-free zone.

Relax before bed

With all the things on your plate, it can be hard to unwind. But relaxing before bedtime is essential to drift off to dreamland. It can be hard to fall asleep if you have a million things on your mind. Before hitting the sack, consider doing something that helps you relax, such as deep breathing, reading or listening to music.

If these actions don’t work, talk to your doctor as you may have issues that need to be addressed.

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