Insomnia


Difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep–affects one in every three people. Insomnia may be caused by stress, medication, pain, illness, noisy surroundings, even sleeping pills. Short–term insomnia, lasting up to three weeks, may result from anxiety, nervousness and physical and mental tension. Long term insomnia stems from health conditions such as depression, and can also be brought on by chronic drug or alcohol use, excessive use of beverages containing caffeine and abuse of sleeping pills. Types of sleep disorders Sleep Apnea Trouble breathing during sleep–affects more than 12 million people in the United States. Loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, and tiredness are the most common signs. Most people are not aware of having any problem. Treatment of sleep apnea may involve a change in sleep position, weight loss, or other non–invasive interventions. Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that affects one in 2,000 people. Symptoms can include chronic daytime sleepiness, spells of muscle weakness, lifelike hallucinations and paralysis while falling asleep or awakening. Medications and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms. Shift Work Problems These are caused by working non–traditional hours and affect one in five people in the United States. Shift work interferes with sleep, workplace performance, health and home life. Sleep specialists can help shift workers to solve sleep problems and schedule activities to minimize disruption of daily life. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) SAD is a type of depression that reappears at the same time each year (usually fall). SAD is associated with an abnormal response to environmental cycles such as seasonal changes in day length or temperature. SAD is effectively treated with high intensity light. Jet Lag This is the inability to sleep after having traveled across several time zones and your biological rhythms become “Out of sync”. Environmental Interferences These may also play a role in your sleeplessness. A distracting sleeping environment such as a room that’s too hot or cold, too noisy or too brightly lit can be a barrier to sound sleep. Other influences to pay attention to are the comfort and size of your bed and the habits of your sleeping partner. If you have to lie beside someone who snores, can’t fall or stay asleep, or has other sleep difficulties, it often becomes your problem, too. Help your partner get professional advice. Psychological Factors Psychological factors particularly stress, are considered by most sleep experts to be the leading cause of short–term sleeping difficulties. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. However, if short–term sleep problems are not managed properly from the beginning, they can persist long after the original stress has passed. This could even lead to problems like sleep walking. Insomnia can be brought on when depression is suspected. Many depressed people complain of insomnia without recognizing that they are depressed. If you have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy or if you have feelings of hopelessness or suicide, your sleep problems may be a result of depression. Talk to your health care provider about any sleeping problem that recurs or persists for longer than one week. When the depression is treated, the accompanying sleep problems usually disappear.