A deep and continuous sleep everyday can be refreshing for everyone. But it is reported that about one in three people in the world is suffering from sleeping disorder or insomnia. Insomnia is the difficulty in falling asleep, which is a common health problem seen today. This problem largely occurs with old age and it is found that women are more affected by it than men. Insomnia may be because of its own medical problem or may be seen as a symptom of other diseases. A person suffering from it cannot sleep at all or may wake up frequently during the sleep. Insomnia can be short term insomnia lasting for a few days or few weeks called acute insomnia or can be long term one which may proceed indefinitely called chronic insomnia.
On the basis of duration and severity insomnia can be classified in to three types
Transient insomnia: which is a temporary insomnia caused due to travel, relocation or due to some external factors like light, sound etc which curbs the normal sleep. It may last for a night or two.
Short term insomnia: this type of insomnia may extend for a few weeks or so, caused mainly due to some mental stress. It will end when the stress or worry is resolved.
Chronic insomnia: this one may last for a long time. It is mainly caused by the secondary insomnia which occurs as a symptom of other diseases.
There are numerous causes for the occurrence of insomnia. The most common causes are depression and other psychological factors. The people with considerable life stress, anxiety, schizophrenia etc normally have poor sleep. Another factor can be some physical discomfort or illness like the disorder of heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, digestive system etc. The problems like breathing disorders, heartburn, chronic pain, menopause, diabetes, arthritis etc can be a disturbance for normal sleep. Some people have problem called restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder in which there will be a creepy-crawly sensation when keeping their limbs idle, so they are forced to make an involuntary movement of their limbs even during the sleep. There can be problems like psycho physiologic factors which is the worry about not having sleep. This can also lead to insomnia.
Some environmental factors like light, sound, temperature, humidity, stale air etc in the bedroom can interfere with your sleeping. Life style and habits can also become a cause for insomnia. Sedentary behavior, sleeping during the day, irregular sleeps and over consumption of drugs, alcohols, caffeine etc can also curb your sleep. Certain medications like over-the-counter drugs and prescribed medications for cold, asthma, depression, allergies, high blood pressure etc can lead to insomnia. Another problem is circadian rhythm disorder caused mainly due to jet lags and night shift works. Traveling over different time zones in air plane can interrupt the body’s biological clock and may give you sleepless nights. Night shift works can create problems till you get adjusted with that routine.
You may have variety of signs and symptoms if you have insomnia. Most generally you will have trouble in falling asleep. You may get awaken while sleeping and may find it difficult to get sleep afterwards. Some may wake up very early in the morning and some can feel sleepy at the day time. You may suffer from general tiredness and impaired motor coordination after waking. You can have depression, irritability, problem with concentration and poor memory if you have insomnia.
Before going for the sleeping pills which are not so good for your health, you must try to follow some routines from your side to get rid of insomnia. Always maintain a regular time for going to bed and waking. Don’t go for sleeping at the day time. Always do exercises but never do it just before you are going to sleep since exercise can arouse you preventing you from sleeping. Always take light foods before sleeping. Keep your bedroom comfortable by making dark, quiet and warm. Try to read books or listen to light music etc before going to sleep which may bring your drowsiness. Consuming alcohol, nicotine, caffeine etc before sleep awakens you all over the night, so avoid it.
Normally acute insomnia can be overcame with the above routines. If tiredness and sleepiness in the day time associated with it is a problem for you. Physician can prescribe you some medications for a few days which are not much strong. Never go for over-the-counter medications in this case which can have detrimental side effects and they also lose their effectiveness during continuous use. If you have chronic insomnia you have to consult the physician for finding out the root cause of the problem for taking the appropriate measures to cure it. Behavioral therapies, changing the lifestyle routines and medical treatment can bring out the underlying cause. If you are using any drugs, don’t forget to mention about it to your doctor, since it can be a cause for insomnia.
Let us now discuss about some medications used for insomnia treatment. Some of the sleeping medications available today use Benzodiazepine sedatives like Halcion, Restoril, ProSom, Dalmane, and Ativan and non-benzodiazepine sedatives namely Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. Even though they give you sufficient sleep, they have side effects and are also found to be addictive. Antihistamines are the major components of over-the-counter drugs. They have the side effect of morning sleepiness and dry mouth. For people who have depression antidepressant drugs are also available nowadays. All of the above drugs can cause variety of side effects like poor coordination, stomach problems, poor memory, vision problems, vomiting etc. So the better way is to go for natural treatments.
A number of natural substances like 5-hydroxytryptophan, choline bitartrate, phosphatidlyl choline, s- adenosyl-methionine, D-phenylalanine, hops, valerian extract, chamomile, passion flower etc are found be very effective in providing relax and giving you better sleep.