What is Insomnia
Insomnia is referred to as a condition related to sleep in which the person suffering from it finds it difficult to sleep, staying asleep, has trouble falling back to sleep or all three. It is the most common sleep disorder experienced worldwide with millions of people having difficulty sleeping and staying asleep for a sufficient amount of time. The difficulty in getting oneself to sleep results in fatigue, lack of energy, irritated mood, and a decrease in performing everyday chores conveniently.
Types of Insomnia
There are two main types of insomnia, namely:
- Transient Acute Insomnia
- Chronic Insomnia or Insomnia Disorder
Transient Acute Insomnia
usually lasts for less than 3 months and resolves on its own, without having to seek medical treatment. Acute insomnia does not count as a disorder as it happens as a result of circumstances. For example, transient acute insomnia occurs when people experience a stressful situation or hear some bad news. As a result, the sleep disruption that takes place is brief and does not require any special treatment.
Also Read: What is REM Sleep? How to achieve REM Sleep
On the other hand, it is a sleep disorder that lasts for more than 3 months and occurs at least three times a week. Chronic insomnia does not tend to go away on its own and usually requires medical intervention/proper treatment.
Apart from acute insomnia and chronic insomnia, some other subtypes of insomnia that are usually experienced include adjustment insomnia, drug-induced insomnia, comorbid insomnia, sleep onset insomnia, middle insomnia, late insomnia, conditioned insomnia, behavioral insomnia, idiopathic insomnia, paradoxical insomnia and sleep hygiene insomnia.
Causes of Insomnia
While there is no specific reason that contributes to insomnia in people, there are certain factors that usually combined together give birth to this disorder. For example:
- Changes in the environment: People are used to the environment they are part of. Once there occurs a change in the environment due to any reason (moving from a place to another, traveling, shifting rooms or apartments, etc.) it can cause insomnia as people find it hard to adjust to the new environment, consequently depriving them of sleep.
- Unhealthy Sleep Pattern: Another common cause of insomnia in adults is the unhealthy sleep habits they are accustomed to. Going to bed at odd hours, using gadgets before bed and having an abrupt sleep pattern contributes to insomnia in so many people
- Shift work: For some people who work jobs that require night shifts, it is not possible for them to get the required amount of sleep at the right time of the night. As a result, they start experiencing insomnia that can either be acute or turns into chronic insomnia if not treated.
- Clinical disorders: A major cause of insomnia relates to clinical disorders that people experience, which costs them their sleep in many cases. Clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, etc. are some of the disorders that cause insomnia in people due to the restlessness and psychological unrest they cause.
- Medications: Sometimes medications used for different health conditions tend to develop insomnia. An overdose of sleep medication, for instance, can adversely affect the patient and cause sleep disorders in them. Similarly, people who are on medication for a certain health condition may start to develop tolerance of that certain medicine and experience insomnia.
Cures for Insomnia
Insomnia can be treated and cured at behavioral, psychological, and medical levels depending on the possible causes of the disorder. Since insomnia is a disorder that is not just physical but also entails psychological reasons, medical health experts recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a treatment for insomnia in adults.
As part of other treatment methods, chronic insomnia patients are told to make changes to their sleep environment as well as their sleeping patterns in order to yield the best results from the treatment.
Medication for chronic insomnia is another common form of treatment. There are certain over-the-counter medicines that are given to insomnia patients however, in many cases these medicines have side effects and the patients need to talk to their doctor before starting any medication.
Top 5 Home Remedies for Insomnia
To combat insomnia without medication and other tedious forms of treatment, researchers over the years have come up with some home remedies that do not require any specialization and are effective for treating insomnia.
The practice of meditation is considered as a solution to a lot of mental and physical health issues. It is said to improve concentration, mindfulness, productivity, and even the quality of sleep. Since meditation works around breathing techniques, it brings peace and contentment to the brain and body alike. One remedy for insomnia is to meditate regularly as it helps to regulate your blood pressure and helps to decrease stress from the body.
Making a habit of exercise daily has proved to be a great cure for insomnia. Apart from meditation and basic physical exercises, yoga is another activity that helps the body to calm down, resulting in a good night’s deep sleep without disturbance. Yoga is similar to meditation in its ability to calm the nerves down, it regulates respiration and helps muscles to relax.
In order to get the maximum benefit from yoga and exercise, try to do simple yoga poses and 15-20 minutes of exercise before going to bed. The exertion will also help you to sleep and the body will be tired enough to get some extra sleep and avoid waking up in the middle of the night.
It may not sound relevant but eating and drinking certain foods before bedtime can cause disturbed sleep and insomnia if consumed over a long time period. If you wish to fight insomnia without resorting to medication, try to limit your food/drink intake at least 2-3 hours prior to going to bed. The use of caffeine also causes sleeplessness therefore, avoiding caffeine before bed should help in combating insomnia.
Another home remedy that has proven effective in curing insomnia is body massage. In the old times, people used to massage specific points on their bodies to deal with insomnia of different kinds. While doing a full body massage may not always be feasible, just massaging your feet with oil for 20-30 minutes before going to bed helps in treating insomnia.
We all know how good warm baths feel. After a tiring day at work, a warm bath could be the best stress reliever for both body and brain. In order to treat insomnia at home without medication or therapy, a warm bath before bed might help in providing a sound sleep throughout the night.
Insomnia is not just a condition but a disorder that affects millions around the world due to various factors including environment, sleep habits, medical conditions, and clinical disorders.
While there are different forms of treatment for insomnia including medication, therapy, and changes in sleep habits, the above-given home remedies have also proven beneficial if followed consistently.
It is important for chronic insomnia patients to take their disorder seriously and get it treated according to the severity of the condition. In case of negligence and lack of proper treatment (be it a home remedy or medical treatment), the symptoms of insomnia can worsen and cause fatigue, stress, demotivation, and other physiological and psychological symptoms in the patient.