Insomnia is a symptom which can accompany several sleep, medical and psychiatric disorders, characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia is typically followed by functional impairment while awake.
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Feeling tired upon waking
Types of Insomnia
There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
- Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
- Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol.
Causes of Insomnia
- Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving).
- Emotional or physical discomfort.
- Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep.
- Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep.
- Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example).
- If you've been lying in bed but are beginning to fear you're not going to drop off, try some of these techniques: Count sheep or count backwards from 100 (one of my favorites) to stop yourself from thinking about the problems of yesterday or tomorrow; breathe deeply for awhile; or visualize some peaceful place.
- If you can't get to sleep after lying in bed for 30 minutes or more, get up for awhile. What to do? Try reading something incredibly boring.
- Develop a bedtime routine and Keep regular bedtime hours.
- Exercise every day, but not shortly before bedtime since exercise gets the adrenaline going.
- If you use an illuminated clock for a wakeup alarm, place it where you can't keep looking at it to check the time.
- Buy a firm mattress and keep your bedroom well ventilated (a cool temperature works best for me).
- And you might also try some of these: a warm bath, warm milk, light bedtime snack, massage, or quiet music (which turns itself off automatically).
- Use earplugs for extreme quiet.
- If you have a painful joint or a headache, take a pain pill before bedtime (but be sure it doesn't contain caffeine).
- Avoid stimulating reading or television shows late at night.
If the insomnia stubbornly persists, check with your doctor to make sure some underlying health problem (such as depression, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) isn't keeping you awake.