Insomnia - A Sleep Disorder: Causes, Symptoms and Remedies

What is insomnia?

One typical sleep issue is insomnia. It is characterized as waking up too early, having trouble falling asleep, or feeling exhausted after a night's sleep for at least three nights each week for at least three months. Most adult women require seven hours of sleep or more each night in order to feel rested.

Routine duties, such as going to work or school and taking care of yourself, become challenging when you suffer from chronic or protracted insomnia. Depression, heart disease, and stroke are just a few of the health issues that insomnia can cause or worsen.

What are the different types of insomnia?

There are two types of insomnia:

Primary insomnia: An illness is primary insomnia. It is neither a sign nor a side effect of another illness. After eliminating out other medical illnesses as the cause of your insomnia, your doctor may determine that you have primary insomnia.

Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia is brought on by, occurs in conjunction with, or as a side effect of other medical problems or medications. It may be chronic or acute (prolonged) (long-term). Secondary insomnia affects the majority of chronic insomniacs.

What causes primary insomnia?

Primary insomnia's actual root cause is unknown. It might be permanent, or it might be brought on by stressful life events, changes in habit while travelling, or both.

What causes secondary insomnia?

  • Psychiatric conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression
  • Neurological (brain) conditions including Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease; Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Medical conditions that make breathing difficult, such asthma and sleep apnea
  • Medical conditions that cause persistent discomfort, like arthritis
  • Hormone issues, particularly thyroid issues
  • Stroke
  • Other sleep disorders including restless legs syndrome; gastrointestinal conditions like heartburn
  • Cancer
  • Menopause symptoms include hot flashes
  • Medicines used to treat cancer, asthma, heart problems, allergies, and colds
  • If you believe that insomnia may be brought on by another medical condition, consult your doctor or nurse

Other things that can keep you from getting enough sleep include:

  • Alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine: Nicotine and caffeine in tobacco products can make it difficult to fall asleep, especially if they are consumed right before bed. Alcohol may initially make it simpler for you to fall asleep, but it can also make you wake up too early and make it difficult for you to get back asleep.
  • A traumatic event: A stressful incident, such as an accident, a natural disaster, a physical assault, or war, can make it difficult for a person to go asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia may improve with treatment for PTSD or anxiety symptoms brought on by the experience.
  • A bad sleep environment: It can be challenging to fall asleep in an uncomfortable bed or in a room that is hazardous, noisy, or overly light.
  • A partner with sleep problems: Your sleep may be more restless and disrupted if your bed mate snores or has sleep apnea. Both sleep apnea and snoring are treatable.
  • Pregnancy: You might wake up more frequently than normal while pregnant, especially in the third trimester, due to discomfort, leg cramps, or the need to use the restroom.
  • Having a new baby: The sleep may be disturbed after childbirth due to altered hormone levels. Young infants typically require feedings every few hours and do not sleep for more than a few hours at a time.

Who gets insomnia?

  • Excessive stress
  • Depression or other mental health issues
  • Travel over vast distances with time changes, such as air travelers
  • Work at night or have an erratic sleep schedule, such as shift workers
  • Suffer from ailments including fibromyalgia, asthma, or sleep apnea

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

The most typical sign of insomnia is having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or staying awake. Those who suffer from insomnia may:

  • Spend a lot of time lying around without sleeping.
  • You wake up during the night and have trouble falling back asleep.
  • Not feeling rested upon awakening.

Other daytime symptoms of sleep deprivation may also exist. For instance, you can feel exhausted when you wake up and have low energy throughout the day. Additionally, it may make you feel agitated, worried, melancholy, or depressed, and it could be difficult for you to focus or recall things.

Why is sleep important?

Health is dependent on sleep. Our bodies and minds heal themselves while we sleep. According to some research, our brains purge poisons that accumulate throughout the day as we sleep. Sleep is essential for memory formation and learning. People who don't get enough sleep are more likely to have health issues like depression, obesity, and high blood pressure.

What can I do to sleep better?

It may be difficult to change ingrained habits, but if you can commit to making some of these changes, your sleep may get better. You might need to use these techniques consistently for a few days in order to improve sleep. Try these ideas to get a better night's sleep at home:

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night or whenever you start to feel sleepy.
  • No of how well you slept, make an effort to get up at the same time every day.
  • Never snooze for longer than 30 minutes, especially between 3 PM and bedtime.
  • Go outside for at least 15 to 20 minutes every day. The natural light will make it easier for you to fall asleep.
  • Prior to going to bed, try to avoid bright artificial light like phones, TVs, and computer screens. The bedroom must not be used for electronic devices.
  • Stick to a calming routine every night at the same time when getting ready for bed.
  • Once you've completed winding down and are ready to sleep, only then should you go to bed. Never read in bed, listen to music in bed, or engage in any other mentally stimulating activity.
  • Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, and cold for sleeping. Use darkening drapes or a sleep mask. Use earplugs, a fan, a white noise machine, or an app on your phone to block out noises.
  • Avoid drinking any alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine at least five hours before bed.
  • Move around frequently during the day. If you exercise or engage in physical activity shortly before bed, or at any point in the five to six hours before bed, it could be harder to fall asleep.
  • Avoid eating or drinking a lot two to three hours before going to bed.
  • If you still can't fall asleep after getting into bed and turning out the light for around 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you do.
  • Consult your doctor or a sleep specialist if you think you may have insomnia or another sleep condition.
Dr. Mrinmay Kumar Das
Senior Consultant
Department of Behavioural Sciences
Book an Appointment