What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder where the sufferer finds it difficult to fall asleep or staying asleep for the desired time. Insomnia, most of the time, does not limit to just not being able to sleep properly but brings along daytime sleepiness, irritability, fatigue, and depressed mood for the sufferer. It is a pervasive sleeping disorder in the United States, as suggested by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This influential institution also informed that around one-third of the adults have Insomnia, some might know about it, and some might have no clue.
Insomnia can be short-term that lasts upto a few days or weeks, and long-term, which can stretch for about a month or more than that. Insomnia, upto a certain degree, is not that problematic. Still, in most cases, it starts intervening with the ordinary course of life by affecting a person’s ability to think and learn things or concentrate over a period that one cannot avoid for the obvious reasons.
Causes of Insomnia
There can be various reasons which might contribute to the generation of this illness in adults. Studies worldwide put heavy weightage over the fact that more than one cause can essentially contribute to people experiencing severe Insomnia. Poor sleeping patterns or not getting regular sleep are the most common reasons for this condition in people. Some other primary causes of Insomnia among adults are :
- The usage of psychoactive drugs such as stimulants is one cause that can generate this condition for you. Using specific medicines, herbs, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, and consuming excessive alcohol are other causes.
- Using opioids or withdrawing from them is also capable of inducing Insomnia in a person.
- Stress can produce Insomnia as a reaction by the body to an unfavorable condition. This stress can come from home, school, or even the workplace. Most sufferers deal with stress-induced sleeping problems.
- Our body works in a specific manner, and when this disrupts, the body produces a reaction. Irregular sleeping pattern is the most prominent cause in this aspect which induces Insomnia in people.
- Injury or pain from an injury can also make it uncomfortable for an individual to fall asleep and later introduce Insomnia.
- Fears, anxiety, emotional and mental trauma are other prevalent causes of Insomnia.
- Mental disorders like bipolar disorder, clinical depression, GAD, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, dementia, and ADHD can also give birth to this illness.
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Ceratin medications
- Substance abuse
- Poor lifestyle
- Hormonal changes
Above are some aspects that can initiate or contribute to Insomnia, but other reasons might be personal. Genetics can, too, play a role in your sleeping habits and how well you sleep. If your ancestors happened to be dealing with Insomnia, then it automatically expands the scope of the same condition in you as well. Insomnia can vary between 38% and 59% in males and females, respectively. You need to get in touch with a doctor to get a full overview of the cause that turned on Insomnia and know how you can treat this annoying condition.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Numerous symptoms can very well depict if someone is dealing with Insomnia or they are just hallucinating things. Not all of them are visible in an individual, but some will most probably show up over a period to alarm you that something is wrong with the body, and it demands your attention. The most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night.
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early after falling asleep late
- Felling of not well-rested after waking up
- Feeling of tiredness and sleepiness in the day time
- Irritability or anxiety or depression
- Having difficulty in paying attention or analyzing or focusing
- Facing errors or making mistakes in everyday activities
- Worrying about not sleeping properly
You need to get an appointment with a doctor if you face any of the above symptoms that persist for an extended time; as soon as they start interfering with your daily life activities, its time to get screened for the illness and get treated accordingly. It is always a wise step to rectify Insomnia early to ensure that the sufferer does not have to sacrifice their lifestyle and invite other hazardous health issues.
How to deal with Insomnia: Treatment of Insomnia
There lie two different ways in which the Treatment of Insomnia in adults takes place.
Both of them have proved their efficiency in tons of cases in the past and trusted by researchers and psychiatrists globally. There are non-medication based procedures to treat the condition and medication-based practices to handle the situation of sleeplessness. It is mostly a combination of both that works wonders for the patients and allows them to live their everyday lives again.
Both procedures focus on improving sleep quality and duration and lowering the daytime aftereffects like sleepiness and fatigue associated with Insomnia. You must talk with your doctor about which approach will be appropriate and will provide you with the best results at the end of the Treatment. If your Insomnia is at an early stage, your doctor will most probably go with the non-medication way. And if you are dealing with it for quite a long time, the combination of both might be the best option for you.
Non-medication based Treatment
This approach charges upon altering the lifestyle and sleeping pattern to ensure long-lasting improvements and work exceptionally well as a long-term management strategy for eliminating Insomnia. It involves behavior sleep medicine (BSM), which works on sleep hygiene, stimulus control, sleep restriction therapy, paradoxical intention, relaxation therapy, patient education, etc. Among this approach, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the one that is of the utmost benefit in treating Insomnia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The most popularly used behavior therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) that helps you control the thoughts or activities that restrict you from falling asleep. This therapy is the first-line Treatment of Insomnia and trusted by psychiatrists to work more or equally well than medications. Doctors stress more on this method for treating sleep issues than medicines because it does not develop any health risks. A few techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy are must to be aware of beforehand committing for the Treatment. These are:
Sleep Education and Hygiene: This involves making the sufferer understands the most prominent cause, which induces Insomnia. Educating the patient regarding a healthy sleeping pattern and habits that he/she can follow to eradicate insomnia symptoms is the priority set by doctors in this technique. Promoting behavior that ensures quality sleep over a long duration is something the doctor tries to implement here.
Stimulus Control Therapy: This technique involves making the mind of the sufferer comfortable with sleep. People dealing with this illness often report anxiety as soon as the bedtime sweeps closer, as their mind has become habitual of not sleeping at night. Through this therapy, the doctor tries to influence the response of the brain towards sleep by
developing a happy relationship between the patient and sleep.
Relaxation Techniques: Most of the patients come up with anxiety issues along with Insomnia. To eliminate anxiety-induced Insomnia, various relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and muscle relaxation have proved their efficiency in promoting a peaceful night sleep again and again over decades. Our body realizes a beautiful sense of calmness after indulging in relaxation activities, precisely what we require to get rid of Insomnia.
Sleep Restriction: This technique mainly focuses on decreasing the time one spends in bed and daytime naps. In this way, the body doesn’t get rest and tires off entirely at night, elevating the possibility of a good night’s sleep for the desired time duration. And once the body starts getting proper sleep at night, more time is allotted to complete the preferred hours of sleep.
Medication based Treatment
This approach is generally the second line of Treatment for Insomnia. Suppose the patient does not show any positive signs even after going through behavioral therapies like sleep hygiene and cognitive-behavioral therapy. In that case, specific medications are still there that help you fall asleep as soon as you gulp them down your throat. Various drugs have proven beneficial in treating and eradicating Insomnia in adults, leaving out some side effects.
Benzodiazepines, sometimes known as ‘benzos,’ are psychoactive drugs that enhance GABA activity; GABA is a neurotransmitter that calms down the brain. If you face sleeping problems, your doctor might prescribe you with this medication class that works quickly and is active for a short period. Even though benzodiazepines work quickly, they last long so that the consumer gets the desired amount of sleep at night. Drugs like lorazepam (Ativan) and Alprazolam (Xanax) work in both anxiety issues and Insomnia.
Non-benzodiazepines, also know as z-drugs, are a class of psychoactive drugs that are very benzodiazepines-like but differ in the overall structure. Unlike benzodiazepines,non-benzodiazepines work on selected receptors of the brain and have fewer side effects than benzodiazepines. They are specially used to treat Insomnia and other sleep-related issues. It includes drugs like Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien. But the most trusted and efficient medication for lowering the symptoms of Insomnia is Ambien.
Ambien is the brand name of the medication Zolpidem used to treat short-term sleeping problems, including Insomnia. The effects of ambien on the brain expand when combined with behavioral therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy. Ambien acts as a sedative and a hypnotic after entering the body of the sufferer. It works by increasing the GABA effect in the central nervous system after binding the GABA receptors in one place.
As it produces a calming effect in the brain, there is always the potential to get abused and transform into addiction over time. That is why it is a schedule II controlled substance in the United States, and one can purchase it online or offline only against prescription. Zolpidem lengthens the sleep time and acts with greater efficiency than other non-benzodiazepines.
There are some side effects too attached to ambien, which you cannot take lightly at any point in time.
As there is a massive possibility of Insomnia, if one is dealing with depression already, there is a class of medications known as anti-depressants that help fight off depression-induced Insomnia. Moreover, these have fewer side effects than benzodiazepines, and hence can be used for an extended period. Anti-depressants have shown to induce sleep quicker by generating effects in the brain. It includes drugs like Mirtazapine (Remeron)and trazodone, which promote sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone that controls and regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Its production by the brain peaks in the late evening when the sleep time is getting closer for most of us. By introducing certain medications that act as melatonin, those dealing with Insomnia can take advantage of the sleep-wake cycle as they increase melatonin production, promoting sleep. It includes drugs like Ramelteon(Rozerem), which act like melatonin after entering the body.