Most people associate insomnia with restless nights, tossing and turning, and an overall feeling of unwelcome wakefulness. While this is certainly what insomnia entails, there are many nuances to this condition that are easy to overlook. Since it’s so important to have a healthy sleep schedule, learning about insomnia will benefit you by giving you the proper tools to have a better night’s sleep.
In this article, we will cover just that!
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, with 1 in 4 adults developing it each year. Luckily, 75% of those adults recover from it without developing more serious sleep disorders. It is relatively rare in children and teenagers up to age 13, but gets more and more prevalent as one moves up the age groups. It is also more prevalent in pregnant women.
Symptoms and Classification
Insomnia is a broad term that actually encompasses several types of insomnias that range in severity and symptoms.
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up without feeling rested
- Trouble focusing
What is Considered Insomnia?
Insomnia can be classified as sleep-onset insomnia or sleep maintenance insomnia. Sleep-onset insomnia occurs when the patient has difficulty falling asleep. This could be due to the inability to relax when trying to fall asleep, or lifestyle factors, like jet lag or irregular work schedules.
Sleep-maintenance insomnia occurs when the patient has difficulty staying asleep after their initial lapse into unconsciousness. This type of insomnia is often seen more as people get older, as well as in people who consume a lot of caffeine, alcohol, and/or nicotine before bed. Other sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder can feed into this type of insomnia.
Insomnia can also be classified into the duration in which the symptoms last. Insomnia that resolves itself in a relatively short time is called acute insomnia. It is characterized by having symptoms of insomnia three times per week for less than three months.
If the insomnia persists for more than three months, it is then classified as chronic insomnia. In this category, the type of symptoms don’t matter to the classification, only the duration in which they last.
Insomnia can have many causes, and is often a symptom of an underlying reason. Some lifestyle causes of insomnia include stress, poor sleeping habits, work or travel schedules, consumption of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol, or eating too much before bed. Different medications can also cause insomnia, as well as medical or mental disorders, and other sleep disorders.
If you feel that your sleep schedule has been off lately, it is best to talk with your physician to get to the bottom of the issue. They can best help you come up with a treatment plan that works for you.
Above all else, remember that insomnia is a disorder, and thus, should not be fought alone. Consulting a doctor is always a good idea, even if you think it’s not that bad. Having that communication line open will help you get the care if you ever happen to need it, and will give you peace of mind if you don’t. You are not alone.
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