Insomnia affects millions of people around the world. A silent, but often extremely damaging problem, this sleep disorder can make your life quite difficult. Find out here how to solve the problem of insomnia.
What are sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders are conditions that change the way you sleep, whether it is time to fall asleep or to continue sleeping. There are several different sleep disorders. These conditions lead to sleep deprivation and affect health, safety and quality of life.
The DSM V, medical manual, points out that, in primary care, between 10 and 20% of people complain about sleep problems. In addition, a third of adults report symptoms of insomnia.
Some of the most common disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome (or Willis-Ekbom's disease), as well as delayed sleep phase. Other disorders include narcolepsy, a disorder characterized by extreme sleep during the day and falling asleep suddenly.
What is insomnia?
One of the most common sleep disorders is insomnia. Unlike what some people think, insomnia does not mean a complete lack of sleep. It is characterized by some symptoms such as:
- difficulty falling asleep
- wake up in the middle of the night
- waking up too early in the morning
- sleep that doesn't rest
A global survey by Philips revealed that 36% of Brazilian adults have insomnia. In other words, more than a third of people in Brazil have difficulty sleeping, and when they are able to rest, they have poor quality sleep.
Types of Insomnia
It is the term used for short-term insomnia that can last from a few days to a few weeks - it is the most common type of insomnia. It usually happens after a stressful or traumatic event, and therefore it is usually transient. Acute insomnia can also be the result of diseases and certain medications, and also of specific circumstances such as physical discomfort or sleeping in an unfamiliar place.
Insomnia becomes chronic if you have been experiencing constant symptoms for more than a month. It can be primary or secondary. Primary is when insomnia is not a symptom of any other disease and has no obvious cause. Secondary occurs when insomnia occurs along with another health condition, for example, diabetes, Parkinson's, hypothyroidism, etc.
What are the causes of insomnia?
To find out the causes of insomnia, it is necessary to do an investigation. After 7cups therapy review, we found that several factors can lead to insomnia, such as stress, medications, breathing problems, unhealthy habits and lifestyle, chronic pain, among many others. So you can start by asking yourself a series of questions:
- Are you under stress?
- Are you depressed?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety?
- Have you had a traumatic experience recently?
- Are you taking any medication that may affect your sleep?
- Do you have any health conditions that may interfere with your sleep?
- Is your resting environment quiet and comfortable?
- Do you try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day?
It is important to ask these questions because most of the time, insomnia is psychophysiological. That is, there is a relationship between psychological and physiological factors - the main cause may have as much to do with your resting environment as with external stressors. Some other common causes for insomnia are:
- Change of work
- Loss of loved one
- Conflict situations
- Bad sleep habits
- Body pain
Are there any risk factors?
Anyone can have insomnia, but there are certain groups that are more likely to have this disorder:
- People over 60 years old. Elderly people are less likely to sleep fully because of changes in their bodies and other health issues.
- People with chronic diseases. Often, the pain associated with the disease increases the risk of insomnia. Diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are some examples.
- Smokers, alcoholics and drug users.
- Women. Female people are more prone to insomnia, due to hormonal changes that can make sleep difficult.
- Individuals in a situation of continuous stress.
- People with negative sleep hygiene habits. Some examples are those who exercise close to bedtime, who consume alcohol or caffeine, or who perform demanding tasks close to bedtime.
- Night shift workers.
- People on long trips to other time zones.
- People with bad sleep environment. Noisy, very hot or very cold, and very light places can disturb sleep.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
Whoever suffers from this disease feels an inability to rest properly during the night. There is a feeling of restlessness for hours before sleep comes - and afterwards, the person may wake up in the middle of the night. Even when sleep lasts a long time, it is not repairing enough.
This all results in feelings of tiredness, lack of energy and bad mood, which leads to a worse performance in social and professional life, fatigue and sleep throughout the day, in addition to impaired motor coordination.
What is the treatment for insomnia?
The best way to address insomnia is to take a series of small steps to improve your sleep habits. As insomnia is usually not specifically linked to a serious illness, it is possible to treat it individually with just these factors.
- Have fixed times to lie down and wake up;
- Do relaxing activities before bed, such as taking a warm bath, having tea or listening to quiet music;
- Use curtains, blackouts, eye masks and ear protectors to prevent external stimuli such as lights and sounds from disturbing your sleep;
- Eat light foods overnight;
- Calm your mind with techniques like meditation;
- Do physical activity in the morning or in the afternoon;
- Create a cozy place to sleep;
- Expose yourself to plenty of natural light during the day;
- Go to bed when you are sleepy, but get out of there if you are turning around without sleeping;
- Turn off cell phone message and email alerts.
- Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugar and certain medications and exercising at night;
- Use of electronic device screens right before bed; at least 30 minutes before sleep time;
- Taking naps during the day;
- “Fighting” with insomnia while staying in bed without sleep;
- Perform activities in bed other than sleep and sex;
- Eat within two hours of bedtime.
When should I look for a professional?
See a doctor if the symptoms of insomnia last for more than a month or start to interfere with your ability to function normally. It is also recommended to seek professional advice if you believe you are also experiencing sleep apnea or another related problem.
Other situations in which it is indicated to see a doctor are:
- If you are taking a new medication that interferes with your sleep;
- You wake up at night because of physical pain;
- You notice changes in mood, energy and appetite - which may indicate that insomnia is a symptom of a more general picture of depression, for example.
Is insomnia curable?
The good news is that insomnia is curable, and on its own. By discovering the causes behind insomnia and following the directions to improve your habits, it is possible to solve the problem of insomnia. In addition, in more severe cases, with proper medical help it is quite likely that it will be possible to cure insomnia and get a good night's sleep.