Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Feeling tired upon waking
Acute vs. Chronic Insomnia
Insomnia also varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. It can be short-term (acute insomnia) or can last a long time (chronic insomnia). It can also come and go, with periods of time when a person has no sleep problems. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
Kinds of Insomnia
The catch-all term for sleeplessness is general insomnia, a classification of sleep disorders involving anyone who has difficulty getting to sleep at night (though it may also include people who wake up in the middle of the night or wake up too early). Overall, insomnia is simply defined as an overall insufficient amount and/or quality of sleep.
Adjustment insomnia is sleeplessness that results from a major adjustment in the life. Also known as acute insomnia or short-term insomnia, it’s usually the result of stress from a major life event, including relationship breakdown (or divorce), the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the emergence of a serious medical condition, etc.
Kids can also have significant sleep issues that can affect their ability to concentrate at school. Childhood insomnia is a serious issue that can negatively impact the natural development of a child.
This condition mostly occurs when children don't go to bed on time unless a parent or guardian enforces a bedtime. If the children are made to go to bed at a specified time, then they tend to fall asleep at a normal hour
Idiopathic insomnia is one of the most serious sleep disorders. It’s a lifelong problem that starts during a child’s early years and lasts all the way into adulthood. Typically, idiopathic insomnia has nothing to do with stress, medication, or pain.
It may result from an imbalance in your body, such as an overactive awakening system and/or an underactive sleep system, but the true cause of this disorder is still unclear.What is clear is that those dealing with idiopathic insomnia need special treatment unique to their specific condition.
Insomnia Due to Substance Abuse
There are a number of substances that can negatively affect the ability to sleep, including medication, caffeine, alcohol, and certain foods. Some medications can prevent sleep (which means you may need to take that medication earlier in the day). Caffeine can prevent the mind from effectively shutting down.
Insomnia due to a medical condition
Sometimes insomnia is a strictly mental health issue related to stress and anxiety. That can certainly be the case when a person is being treated for a serious medical condition.
But pain is often a symptom of a significant medical issue and can have a dramatic impact on sleep.
Paradoxical or Unspecified Insomnia
Paradoxical insomnia is a complicated matter that takes place without any clear evidence that sleeplessness is a problem. Those dealing with it may actually over-report the problem. That means they claim to have slept far less than they actually have.
This type of insomnia suggests that known substances and other physical causes of the insomnia have been ruled out. This means that the cause of insomnia is most likely due to an underlying mental health disorder, psychological factor, or sleep disruptive behaviors.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
- Sleepiness during the day
- General tiredness
- Problems with concentration or memory
Good Sleep Habits for Beating Insomnia
Good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene, can help you get a good night's sleep and beat insomnia. Here are some tips:
- Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day, because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality.
- Get regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime, because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for at least three to four hours before the time you go to sleep.
- Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime, however, may help you sleep.
- Make your bedroom comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a "white noise" machine to cover up the sounds.
- Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep. Read a book or take a bath..
- If you can't fall asleep and don't feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not overly stimulating until you feel sleepy.
- If you find yourself lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed. This may help you to not focus on those worries overnight.