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How Too Tell If Your Sleep Problem Is Insomnia

Aug 17, 2007
About 35% of adults claim that they have some form of insomnia occasionally and about 12% of these people claim to have severe insomnia. Insomnia complaints often increase with age and are more common in women.

Insomnia is not considered a disease but it is a condition of lack of correct, satisfying sleep. Someone with insomnia will generally have the sensation of daytime fatigue and impaired potential performance. Insomnia relates to the inability to sleep even though one is tired and can include waking up too early and having too fitful of a sleep leaving one tired upon waking. Insomnia can result in irritability, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and tiredness.

There are two generally recognized types of insomnia, acute and chronic. Both acute and chronic insomnia have many shared characteristics and a combination of symptoms may blur the actual lines.

Acute insomnia is often caused by physical or emotional discomforts that can usually be corrected fairly easily. Acute insomnia may be caused by stress, illness or disturbing loud noise, temperatures too high or low, or unacceptable light levels. Additionally, acute insomnia may be caused by jet lag or disturbances of the daily biological rhythm, such as the night shift.

Chronic insomnia is the more difficult insomnia to deal with and often is associated with many different factors either acting alone or in combination and often includes medical problems.

Chronic insomnia is often associated with medical, neurological and or psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders accounts for about 45% of the cases. Chronic insomnia can be associated with a variety of nonprescription drugs, prescription drugs and drugs of abuse.

There are many causes of insomnia and often an insomniac has more then one cause to blame for this condition. One of the main causes of insomnia are drugs. Some of the drugs associated with insomnia include stimulating antidepressants, steroids, decongestants, beta blockers, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and recreational drugs.

Anxiety and mood disorders can be the cause of insomnia, as well as medical problems such as pain, immobility, menopause, hormonal changes, and difficulty breathing.

Insomnia can be associated with specific sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, sleep apnea and circadian rhythm sleep problems. Additional causes of insomnia include poor sleep hygiene, poor sleep surfaces such as bad mattresses, hyper arousal, and behavioral conditioning.

Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS is a condition where the sufferer feels unpleasant sensations in the legs which are temporarily alleviated by moving around. Symptoms are increased during relaxed times and sleeping times. This makes it difficult to fall asleep.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder describes jerking, rhythmic, repeated movements in the legs and lower extremities every 15 to 90 seconds. Sufferers who have this problem report having less refreshing sleep.

Sleep Apnea which is associated with snoring can cause sleeplessness and insomnia.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders refer to a mis- match between when a person can sleep and when his body needs and wants to sleep.

Other causes of insomnia include poor sleep hygiene, stress, hyper arousal and negative behavioral conditioning.

Often acute insomnia (insomnia that lasts less than several weeks) may warrant some kind of medical intervention if you can not correct the problem yourself. This is important because good sleepers that suffer just a few hours of sleeplessness may become significantly sleepy during the day and be a danger to him self and others, especially during driving or operating equipment. There is also the danger that acute insomnia may develop into a learned chronic insomnia.

There are two basic approaches to the treatment of insomnia. Basically one approach is to use drugs and the other approach is behavioral.

Behavioral treatment includes correcting poor sleep habits and changing sleep beliefs and attitudes. Several of the therapies include relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy, stimulus control therapy, and cognitive therapy.

Pharmacological therapy includes hypnotic medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, melatonin, and other drugs like barbiturates.

In conclusion, there are effective solutions to insomnia and sleep deprivation. The patient can do much to help themselves in this matter and the physician has many tools to aid in this. Improved sleep will help in your quality of life, and health both mental and physical.
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