Causes and Treatment of Insomnia

Getting enough sleep everyday is an important aspect of healthy living. Difficulty in initiating or maintaining the sleep is defined as insomnia, and this can lead to impaired daytime functioning. Insomnia is classified based on the duration of the condition. Transient or short-term insomnia is most common, and normally lasts for few days only.

Insomnia lasting less than a week is called transient insomnia, if lasting for more than a week but less than three weeks is referred to as short term insomnia, and if lasting for more than three weeks, is called long-term or chronic insomnia. It is more common among people in lower socioeconomic groups, mental patients and chronic alcoholics. Stress is considered the most common trigger for acute or short-term insomnia. Transient insomnia is usually caused by certain temporary situation in life such as medical illness, argument with the loved one or just jet lag.

Some of the common symptoms of insomnia are impaired daytime functioning, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, anxiety, poor attention, poor social function, and increased mistakes and errors. A person suffering from insomnia does not feel refreshed in the morning, there is difficulty in falling asleep, or the person wakes up in the early hours and is unable to go back to sleep. Some of the physiological conditions causing insomnia include chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain syndrome, night time angina, congestive heart failure, nocturnal asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain degenerative diseases. Unlike few medical conditions, insomnia can be easily recognized because people know when they are not able to get enough sleep.

Determining the right cause is the key to treat insomnia, and doctor takes into consideration several factors while making the diagnosis. Insomnia can be the symptom of any other underlying psychological or medical problem which must be addressed first. Relaxation therapy, sleep hygiene, sleep restriction and stimulus control are the non-pharmacologic therapies to treat insomnia. Most doctors are able to recognize and treat insomnia, but if the patient of chronic insomnia does not respond to any treatment, more extensive testing is done by the sleep specialist.

Insomnia treatment includes eliminating, alleviating or coping with any emotional and physical problems causing the problem. Usually, the treatment of insomnia combines non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic aspects. Other treatments include changes in behavior, body and mind relaxation, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, herbal teas, dream pillows, light therapy, traditional Chinese medicine and so on. To help get a sleep, avoid the use of caffeine, find ways to manage stress in your life, exercise regularly, do not take nap during the daytime, eat only light meals before going to bed, and do not lie in the bed worrying about things.