UNDERSTANDING SLEEP DISORDERS
You know your body needs sleep. You know you want to sleep.
But, you can’t.
And this sleep deprivation problem is also depriving you of a quality life during the day. Does this sound all too familiar, or is this describing someone else you know?
What is Insomnia?
This is a type of sleep disorder where an individual finds it difficult to fall asleep, to stay asleep, OR is always waking up too early and can’t get back to sleep. When they do wake up from sleeping, oftentimes they don’t feel refreshed –which leads to fatigue and other symptoms.
This can affect anyone but cases are more common in women and in older adults. It can last only a few days, several weeks, or extend over a longer period.
According to the APA (American Psychiatric Association), insomnia is the most common among all sleep disorders stating that one-third of adults report insomnia symptoms. However, 6 - 10% of all adults show symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed with insomnia. Doctors make clinical diagnosis of this disorder IF both these criteria appear:
Sleep difficulties occur (at least) 3 nights per week for a minimum of 3 months.
Sleep difficulties create major distress and/or functional issues in an individual’s life.
Causes of Insomnia
The causes depend on the type/s of sleeplessness you experience. Short-term ones may be due to an upsetting/traumatic event, stress, or changes to sleep habits. Chronic ones can last for (at least) 3 months and is usually secondary to a different health problem (or combination of problems), which include: substance use, psychological issues (depression or anxiety), and medical conditions that make it more difficult to sleep (such as back pain or arthritis).
Types of Insomnia
The different types of insomnia are characterized by how it affects your sleep, how long it lasts, and its inherent causes.
1) Acute insomnia
This is the most common type of insomnia and can last from a few days to a few weeks. This is also called ‘adjustment insomnia’ because it happens during a stressful event (i.e. starting a new job or the death of a loved one). Other causes include: illness, jet lag, environmental factors (e.g. noise or light), sleeping in unfamiliar bed/surroundings (in a new home or hotel), certain medications, or physical discomfort (e.g. inability to get a comfortable position).
2) Chronic Insomnia
It’s considered chronic if it happens 3 days per week for at least a month. Chronic insomnia can be primary (doesn’t have obvious cause or underlying medical condition) or secondary (also called ‘comorbid insomnia’ which occurs alongside another condition). Causes of chronic insomnia include: lifestyle factors (frequent jet lag, graveyard work shifts), chronic medical conditions (hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and obstructive & central sleep apnea), mental conditions (anxiety, depression, ADHD), caffeine and other stimulants, AND medications (antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs). How frequent chronic insomnia is? In the general population, there’s 1 incident for every 10 people –which is about 30% of the total population at any given time.
3) Onset Insomnia
This is the problem of initiating sleep and can be short-term or chronic. Psychological/psychiatric problems are its most common causes. Individuals experiencing this often have another disorder, such as periodic limb movement disorder or restless leg syndrome.
4) Maintenance Insomnia
This is a person’s difficulty with staying asleep or waking up too early. This type of insomnia causes you to worry about falling back asleep and not getting enough sleep. Consequently, this ‘worry’ further interferes with sleep –creating a vicious cycle. In addition to mental health conditions, other causes are: sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma and other respiratory conditions, periodic limb movement disorder, and restless leg syndrome.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Those experiencing insomnia report at least one of these:
- unrefreshing sleep
- trouble falling/staying asleep
- waking too early in the morning
These symptoms consequently lead to other symptoms like:
- mood changes
- inability to focus on a task
Treatment for Insomnia
Depending on the type of insomnia you have, you may need to consult your doctor, go through a diagnostic/physical test, have a sleep-habit review, or be referred for a sleep study (to check for other sleep disorders, i.e. apnea).
There are conventional (pharmaceutical) treatments, non-medical (cognitive and behavioral) treatments, as well as alternative remedies for insomnia. It’s been proven that behavioral interventions in treating insomnia are more effective than medications. You may need to try a number of different treatments before finding the one that fits you perfectly.
Hypnotherapy is one of the most effective remedies for this disorder. If you need help understanding what treatment works best for you or for your loved one (who is experiencing this disorder), consult with our therapist at Jarvis HynoTherapy. We have the proper knowledge and training to help you with insomnia problem.