Insomnia: what you should know

Insomnia, a kind of sleep disorders has an uprising Public health problem in the modern society. It describes a condition of having problem with sleep which results in feeling unrefreshed during the day and difficulty with daytime function. 

The worldwide prevalence of insomnia symptoms is approximately 30-35% but in spite of its prevalence and burden, the aetiology is poorly understood. The inconsistency in definitions and diagnostic criteria for insomnia creates variability in its prevalence. Insomnia has been linked with adverse long-term health outcomes such as obesity (as it is related to stimulate higher amounts of a stress hormone- cortisol which could result to anxiety, stress and frustration contributing to emotional eating and poor nutritional habits), heart attack and stroke (as lack of adequate sleep disrupt the parts of the brain that controls the circulatory system or cause inflammation that makes more blood clot), hypertension, reduced quality of life and psychological morbidity. Older adults are more likely to develop insomnia symptoms than younger people. Hormonal changes during menstrual cycle and menopause, proneness to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, the overlap role of caregiver and work which may wreak havoc with regular schedules and sleep leaves women more vulnerable to insomnia than men.

Symptoms includes

having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and constant awakening during sleep.

Major types of insomnia are:

Primary Insomnia which is a sleep problem that is not associated with other health problems.
Secondary Insomnia which occurs due to another health condition, pain, medicine or substance use.
Primary insomnia is usually short-term lasting days or weeks while Secondary insomnia is long-term and lasts for months.

Causes of Insomnia

Sudden occurrence of events such as death of friends and family
Stress from work
Unhealthy individual lifestyle (high alcohol consumption, bad sleep hygiene, etc.)
Anxiety and/or depression
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Headache disorder

Treatment of Insomnia

Understanding the fundamental cause of insomnia could be a step forward to overcoming it. Major treatments for primary insomnia is practicing good sleep habit which involves the following:
Avoid exercise close to bedtime
Avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime
Avoid smoking cigarettes and other nicotine products
Reduce exposure to electronics

Cognitive-behavioural therapy and proper intake of prescribed medication may help reduce anxiety linked to insomnia.

Therefore, keeping tab on sleep pattern and maintaining good sleep habit helps in improving quality of life as troubled sleep is considered both a predictive sign and symptom of many illnesses and associated with substantial reduction in the quality of life.

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