Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Consequences And Solutions
Insomnia: Causes, symptoms, consequences and solutions to improve sleep quality
Insomnia is no longer a disease of the elderly, it is becoming more and more common among young people due to the stresses and strains of the modern life. Currently, up to 15% of the world’s population is suffering from this sleep disorder, which causes not only fatigue, weakness, but also heart problems and strokes. . In this WEWELL’s article, we will give you an overview of insomnia, helping to better understand this disease so that you can find suitable as well as effective prevention and treatments.
1.What Is Insomnia?
Nowadays, more and more people have to face insomnia or sleeping difficulties causing many obstacles in their daily life. It is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.
Symptoms of insomnia are variable from difficulty falling asleep at night, waking up during the night, waking up too early, not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep to daytime tiredness or sleepiness, irritability, depression or anxiety, difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering and increased errors or accidents. According to statistics, up to 33% of the population suffers from one or more symptoms of insomnia, 15% will show drowsiness, daytime dozing, 18% of the population is not satisfied with their own sleep and about 30% of the population suffers from insomnia related to mental illness.
Types Of Insomnia
Insomnia can be divided into 3 main categories:
- Transient insomnia: This type means having sleep trouble for less than 1 week
- Short-term insomnia: is facing difficulty in sleeping for 1-4 weeks
- Chronic insomnia: is insomnia that has been going on for a long time from 1 month or more.
Among these three, chronic insomnia is the most serious. As for transient insomnia and short-term insomnia, if they are not taken care of and treated promptly, they may turn into chronic insomnia and cause dangerous consequences.
There are numerous potential causes of insomnia, and in many cases, multiple factors can be involved. Poor sleep can also trigger or worsen other health conditions, creating a complex chain of cause-and-effect for insomnia.
On a holistic level, insomnia is believed to be caused by a state of hyperarousal that disrupts falling asleep or staying asleep. Hyperarousal can be both mental and physical, and it can be triggered by a range of circumstances and health issues.
Insomnia and Stress
Stress can provoke a profound reaction in the body that poses a challenge to quality sleep. This stress response can come from work, school, and social relationships. Exposure to traumatic situations can create chronic stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The body’s physical response to stress contributes to hyperarousal, and mental stress can have the same effect. The inability to sleep may itself become a source of stress, making it increasingly harder to break the cycle of stress and insomnia.
Researchers believe that some individuals are more vulnerable to stress-induced sleeping problems. These people are considered to have high “sleep reactivity,” which is tied to other issues affecting their sleep and their physical and mental health.
Insomnia and Irregular Sleep Schedules
In an ideal world, the body’s internal clock, known as its circadian rhythm, closely follows the daily pattern of day and night. In reality, many people have sleep schedules that cause misalignment of their circadian rhythm.
Two well-known examples are jet lag and shift work. Jet lag disturbs sleep because a person’s body can’t adjust to a rapid change in time zone. Shift work requires a person to work through the night and sleep during the day. Both can give rise to a disrupted circadian rhythm and insomnia.
In some people, circadian rhythms can be shifted forward or backward without a clear cause, resulting in persistent difficulties in sleep timing and overall sleep quality.
Insomnia and Lifestyle
Unhealthy habits and routines related to lifestyle and food and drink can increase a person’s risk of insomnia.
Various lifestyle choices can bring about sleeping problems:
- Keeping the brain stimulated until late in the evening, such as by working late, playing video games, or using other electronic devices.
- Napping late in the afternoon can throw off your sleep timing and make it hard to fall asleep at night.
- Sleeping in later to make up for lost sleep can confuse your body’s internal clock and make it difficult to establish a healthy sleep schedule.
- Using your bed for activities besides sleep can create mental associations between your bed and wakefulness.
Though often overlooked, choices about your diet can play a role in sleeping problems like insomnia.
- Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for hours, making it harder to get to sleep and potentially contributing to insomnia when used in the afternoon and evening. Nicotine is another stimulant that can negatively affect sleep.
- Alcohol, which is a sedative that can make you feel sleepy, can actually worsen your sleep by disturbing your sleep cycle and causing fragmented, non-restorative sleep.
- Eating heavy meals and spicy foods can be hard on your digestive process and have the potential to generate sleeping problems when consumed later in the evening.
Insomnia and Mental Health Disorders
Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder frequently give rise to serious sleeping problems. It is estimated that 40% of people with insomnia have a mental health disorder.
These conditions can incite pervasive negative thoughts and mental hyperarousal that disturbs sleep. In addition, studies indicate that insomnia can exacerbate mood and anxiety disorders, making symptoms worse and even increasing the risk of suicide in people with depression.
Insomnia, Physical Illness, and Pain
Almost any condition that causes pain can disrupt sleep by making it harder to lie comfortably in bed. Dwelling on pain when sleepless in bed may amplify it, increasing stress and sleeping problems.
Health complications related to Type II diabetes can be part of an underlying cause of insomnia. Pain from peripheral neuropathy, more frequent need for hydration and urination, and rapid blood sugar changes can interrupt sleep. There is also a correlation between diabetes and other health conditions that are known to interfere with sleep including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and depression.
Other types of physical illness, including those affecting the respiratory or nervous system, may pose challenges to sleep that can culminate in short-term or chronic insomnia.
Insomnia and Medications
Sleeping problems and insomnia can be side effects of many types of medications. Examples include blood pressure drugs, anti-asthma medications, and antidepressants. Other drugs may cause daytime drowsiness that can throw off a person’s sleep schedule.
It’s not just taking medications that can interrupt sleep. When someone stops taking a drug, withdrawal or other aspects of the body’s reaction can create difficulties for sleep.
Insomnia can be easily recognized by the following prominent symptoms:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night, staying asleep, or staying asleep
- Frequent waking in the middle of the night or waking up too early and not being able to go back to sleep.
- After waking up, there is no feeling of sleeping and resting.
- Drowsiness, fatigue, daytime sleepiness.
- Irritability, anxiety, depression.
- Difficulty concentrating, trouble remembering.
- Stomach and bowel discomfort.
- Feeling restless, easily angered.
- In severe cases, hallucinations may be seen.
Factors That Increase In The Risk Of Insomnia
- Gender: women are more prone to insomnia than men. Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and menopause can play a role in this;
- Age: especially when you are older than 60 years because of changes in sleep patterns and health, insomnia increases with age;
- Psychological problems: if you have a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Job: it may be because you have to work night shifts or often overtime, which leads to insomnia;
- Traveling: you have a higher risk of insomnia if you travel long distances. Traveling across multiple time zones can cause insomnia.
Harm Of Insomnia
Puffy eyes, dark circles, dizziness, slow decision-making (or poor decision making), dry eyes, headaches, nausea,… these are just a few of the issues you may have the day after just one sleepless night.
But what if you accumulate a series of sleepless nights? The sleep debt you create by under-sleeping on a regular basis gets bigger and bigger, to the point where you cant ever fully repay your body the sleep it needs to run properly.
Chronic insomnia like this poses more serious health challenges beyond the short-term side effects of a single night spent tossing and turning. Researchers have found that chronic, ongoing, or intermittent insomnia may have an effect on multiple systems in the body, including the nervous system, immunity, the endocrine system (hormones), and cardiovascular health (the heart).
Untreated insomnia can put you in a higher-risk category for heart disease. Under-sleeping can also contribute to the severity of existing conditions like:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
According to the National Sleep Foundation, an adult over 45 who sleeps less than six hours per night may have double the likelihood of stroke or heart attack, when compared to someone the same age who sleeps between six and eight hours.
Insomnia can lead to insufficient time spent in each of the phases of sleep. This, in turn, can disrupt how the brain stores experiences and learning in short-term memory. Some cognitive effects of insomnia include:
- Attention, concentration, and focus problems
- Difficulty reasoning and making decisions
- Learning difficulties
- Memory impairment
Lack of sleep slows your thinking and can affect your judgment and reaction times, which can create additional problems if your job depends on making fast decisions.
Mental health and mood problems
Sleep is an important part of regulating mood. Not enough sleep can trigger psychiatric illness and mood disorders or make existing conditions worse. Insomnia and sleep deprivation have been linked to:
- Irritability, anger, or aggression
- Impulsive behavior
- Low energy
- Lack of motivation
- Mood swings
Sleep-deprived individuals can often find themselves on-edge and may overreact to frustrations, lash out at others, or make reckless decisions.
Obesity, and obesity-related health problems
Sleep plays a role in your body’s balance of hunger hormones (ghrelin and leptin) and insulin. Insomniacs may find themselves overeating or choosing the wrong foods (or caffeinated drinks) to counteract daytime drowsiness. The result can be:
- Excessive weight gain
- Heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Joint strain and injury
- Lower back pain
- Metabolic disorder
- Posture problems
Teens and kids are often affected by these issues, too. One study with teens indicated that the odds of become obese increased with each lost hour of sleep.
Waking up tired or being excessively sleepy throughout the day is a classic sign of insomnia (and of many other sleep disorders). You may have:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Microsleeps instances of tiny naps, just a few seconds long, over which you have little control
- Physical exhaustion and fatigue
This tiredness can become dangerous if it causes you to lose strength when you need it or fall asleep on the job or behind the wheel.
Sleep deprivation can lead to muscle tension and headaches. Often, pain disrupts and fragments sleep; then lack of sleep leads to more pain, creating a vicious cycle. If you have ongoing insomnia, you may notice:
- Increased pain sensitivity
- Delayed sleep onset
More studies need to be done on the link between sleep and pain. What researchers do know is that many chronic pain conditions contribute to insomnia. If you have such a condition, alleviating the pain itself may improve your sleep.
Social Consequences of Insomnia
The above side effects of insomnia are mental and physical responses to lack of sleep. However, theres a human, social cost that goes hand-in-hand with these health problems. Being robbed of sleep takes a toll on relationships and your ability to function at your highest ability.
People with frequent or chronic insomnia may also suffer from:
- Academic struggles
- Alcohol and drug abuse (including prescription painkillers)
- Financial difficulties
- Relationship troubles
- Work or job performance problems
The increased stress from these burdens can exacerbate any existing health problems and, frustratingly, make a good night’s sleep even harder to come by.
Public Health Consequences of Insomnia
Insufficient sleep contributes to public health problems, too.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive like you have a blood alcohol level of .05. Untreated insomnia can therefore contribute to dangerous situations like:
- Automobile accidents
- Occupational accidents
7.Solution To Treat Insomnia
Changing your sleep habits and addressing any issues that may be associated with insomnia, such as stress, medical conditions or medications, can restore restful sleep for many people. If these measures don’t work, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, medications or both, to help improve relaxation and sleep.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake and is generally recommended as the first line of treatment for people with insomnia. Typically, CBT-I is equally or more effective than sleep medications.
The cognitive part of CBT-I teaches you to recognize and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. It can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake. It may also involve eliminating the cycle that can develop where you worry so much about getting to sleep that you can’t fall asleep.
The behavioral part of CBT-I helps you develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviors that keep you from sleeping well. Strategies include, for example:
- Stimulus control therapy. This method helps remove factors that condition your mind to resist sleep. For example, you might be coached to set a consistent bedtime and wake time and avoid naps, use the bed only for sleep and sex, and leave the bedroom if you can’t go to sleep within 20 minutes, only returning when you’re sleepy.
- Relaxation techniques. Progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback and breathing exercises are ways to reduce anxiety at bedtime. Practicing these techniques can help you control your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and mood so that you can relax.
- Sleep restriction. This therapy decreases the time you spend in bed and avoids daytime naps, causing partial sleep deprivation, which makes you more tired the next night. Once your sleep has improved, your time in bed is gradually increased.
- Remaining passively awake. Also called paradoxical intention, this therapy for learned insomnia is aimed at reducing the worry and anxiety about being able to get to sleep by getting in bed and trying to stay awake rather than expecting to fall asleep.
- Light therapy. If you fall asleep too early and then awaken too early, you can use light to push back your internal clock. You can go outside during times of the year when it’s light outside in the evenings, or you can use a light box. Talk to your doctor about recommendations.
Your doctor may recommend other strategies related to your lifestyle and sleep environment to help you develop habits that promote sound sleep and daytime alertness.
Prescription sleeping pills can help you get to sleep, stay asleep or both. Doctors generally don’t recommend relying on prescription sleeping pills for more than a few weeks, but several medications are approved for long-term use.
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- Ramelteon (Rozerem)
- Zaleplon (Sonata)
- Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist)
Prescription sleeping pills can have side effects, such as causing daytime grogginess and increasing the risk of falling, or they can be habit-forming, so talk to your doctor about these medications and other possible side effects.
Over-the-counter sleep aids
Nonprescription sleep medications contain antihistamines that can make you drowsy, but they’re not intended for regular use. Talk to your doctor before you take these, as antihistamines may cause side effects, such as daytime sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, cognitive decline and difficulty urinating, which may be worse in older adults.
Unlike western medicine which cares mostly about symptoms, traditional medicine focuses on the cause of the disease, treating the root that leads to it. From there, it will help patients to have a good and deep sleep, as well as the body and nerves at ease.
Moreover, you can also consider using Health supplement – WEWELL Polyscias Fuiticosa Herbal Beverage which supports to a better and deeper sleep.