Ever had a night where you can’t fall asleep? You just lay there wondering when you’ll finally be able to shut your eyes and get some rest. Some people get insomnia confused with sleep deprivation. But the two are quite different. Sleep deprivation is when the person has the ability to fall asleep, but doesn’t give themself adequate time to get rest. Insomnia is the opposite. The person does have the time to fall asleep, but physically cannot.

Who is effected: Insomnia effects roughly 10% of the population. This means that about 30 million people in the United States are suffering each night from insomnia. Although some are effected without any other outside factors, there is also a correlation with disorders and the prevalence of insomnia. 23.9% of those suffering from anxiety disorders also suffer from insomnia, while 14% with depression also suffer from insomnia. There seems to be a strong link between emotional regulation and insomnia. Thus, emotional states greatly effect sleep, and visa versa.

Being Diagnosed: Doctors will look for the following symptoms when giving an accurate diagnosis for insomnia

  • Difficulty initiating sleep, or maintaining sleep throughout the night
  • Impairs emotional state, distress
  • Does not occur exclusively with another sleep disorder and or mental disorder
  • Not due to substance abuse
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up throughout night
  • Difficulty returning to sleep
  • Difficulty waking up early
  • Waking up feeling unrested, unrefreshed
2 Classifications of Insomnia:
  • Sleep Onset Insomnia: This type of insomnia means the patient has trouble falling asleep.This can greatly effect sleep because the patient will fall asleep later in the night, getting less hours of sleep than recommended.
  • Sleep Maintenance Insomnia: This type of insomnia is when the patient can fall asleep, but cannot sustain sleep throughout the course of the night, waking up frequently.
Insomnia and Stressors:  Insomnia can be caused by many things. One cause of insomnia is from stressors or life changes. These stressors can make insomnia last for a week, or for long-term.
  • Acute Insomnia: Short lived insomnia can occur from a change in one’s life, like a loss, a newm stressful job or a change in lifestyle. Although it effects the patients sleeping patterns, the insomnia does go away. It usually lasts about a week, and goes away once the stressor has dissipated.
  • Chronic Insomnia: One has chronic insomnia when they experience symptoms for over one month.
Treating Insomnia: Treating insomnia through medication is a very popular option. There are two FDA approved drugs to help treat the symptoms of insomnia, although there is still no cure.
  • Melatonin  Receptor Activating Drugs: These types of drugs help to mimic melatonin, a hormone secreted to help with circadian rhythms. Taking these drugs helps the body to realize that it’s night time, a time for the body to rest and sleep. Melatonin receptor activating drugs have shown hope in helping to treat short-term insomnia.
  • Gaba Receptor Activating Drugs: These types of drug target the part of the brain that turns off neurons. These drugs help to change the sleep architecture by reducing NREM SWS, which keeps you in a light sleep.  The problems with these drugs is people can  get side effects like that of a hangover, and the body can build up a tolerance to the drug, making it ineffective over time. Because of this, a newer version was developed that helped to lower the negative side-effects.
Psychological and Behavioral Interventions: There are alternative ways to treat symptoms of insomnia that can be very effective. The main idea behind these types of treatments is to alter the factors that are contributing to the sleep disruptions, thus causing the person to experience insomnia.
  • Sleep Restriction: This is a common method for treating insomnia. Restricting the person of sleep builds up the bodies desire to sleep, which can help the patient to sleep throughout the night if their body is in dire need of sleep.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy has also shown positive effects on insomniac patients.
  • Relaxation based interventions: This type of intervention is also common to treat symptoms of insomnia. The methods presented to the patient help to calm the patient and help them to get a good nights sleep without the anxiety of not being able to fall asleep.
Insomnia is something that effects many people, yet has no cure in sight. There are ways to help alter the symptoms and gain some insight into a better night’s sleep. Sleep is so important for overall health, daily functioning, and even learning! It’s important to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night to better function each day, and be productive.

One Response to Insomnia…. Falling asleep is not an option

  1. Mike Rosenthal says:

    Check this article out: http://www.talkaboutsleep.com/circadian-rhythm-disorders/circadian-rhythm-sleep-disorders/index.htm One the best, most accurate and well informed I have ever read on sleep cycles. Not surprisingly, was contributed to by Jed Black, head of Stanford’s sleep research center.

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