Insomnia Part I

Wed, May 20, 2009

Insomnia Part I

Insomnia is considered as the main indication of a sleeping disorder. It is characterized by continual problem falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia is just a symptom and not an objective diagnosis or a disease. By definition, insomnia is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both. It may be because of insufficient quantity or quality of sleep. Insomnia is usually leads to functional disturbance while awake. Insomniacs are usually complaining about inability to close their eyes or “rest their mind” for more than several minutes at a time. Divided into organic and non-organic insomnia represent a sleep disorder. In 2007 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that about 64 million Americans suffer from insomnia on a regular basis. Each year insomnia happens 1.4 times more friquently in women than in men.

Types of insomnia

Three types of insomnia have been commonly classified, even there are several different degrees of insomnia. There are transient, acute, and chronic insomnia, as described below:

Transient insomnia lasts from days to weeks. It is usually caused by another disorder, such as: changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. It results in sleepiness and impaired psychomotor activities that are similar to those of sleep deprivation.

Acute  insomnia is inability to maintain regular sleep pattern for a period between three weeks to six months.

Chronic insomnia lasts for years at a time. It can be caused by another health problem. It could also be a main disorder. Chronic insomnia demonstrates itself in different ways, such as: sleepiness, muscular fatigue, hallucinations, mental fatigue, distress, panic disorder, etc. However, people suffering from chronic insomnia often demonstrate elevated alertness and awareness. Occasionally, people with chronic insomnia can see things almost “in slow motion”, whereby different objects appear blended to one another. In this case a double vision might be noticed.

Insomnia Statistics

About a third of the population, as many studies have shown, at any given time is having considerable sleeping problems. Between 8% to 12% of the population suffers from chronic insomnia. It becomes a serious sleep difficulty for many people, which could last for months, unless some dramatic changes would have to be implemented into people’s behavioral day-to-day life pattern. Unless it has been done on time, insomnia can sneak up on you gradually.

Insomnia occurrence is responsible for events, such as: employment or school-related stress, relationship problems, illness, or the death of a loved one. These days it is hard to find someone who has never had a sleepless, or seemingly sleepless, night. It seems that the occasional sleep disturbance is a part of our life. However, most sleep problems are acute or transient and do not sustain more than a few nights.

Transient Insomnia. Most of us are capable of dealing with these transient occurrences of insomnia. If sleep problems become more or less constant, you start to feel like you are losing touch with a very important part of your life. According to many sleep researchers, the most important reasons for having proper sleep are comprehensive: to combine, restore, refresh, and rejuvenate different bodily functions including memory, learning, mood, immune processes, growth, and state of mind.

Sympthms of Insomnia

It is also obvious that consequences of insomnia are similarly influential. Other than low energy and fatigue, you may feel frustrated, agitated, preoccupied, anxious, or even depressed. You may also experience difficulties in concentrating, lower reaction time, falling asleep with no visible reason, especially while driving, reading, watching television, sitting in a class or in a meeting. You could become less productive or feel more irritating, emotional, and unreasonable.

Impact of Insomnia. In general, any trace of frustration or anxiety, which you begin to feel, can make even more negative impact on you, especially when in bed. At this time, the anxiety can agitate you and keep you away from relaxing enough to fall sleep. Here a vicious cycle can be energized. 

Insomnia Medications

There are five medications that belong to a class of sleep medication called benzodiazepines that have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of insomnia. These medications are called hypnotic medication or sleep medications. Below is a brief discussion of medications that are commonly used for sleep disorders:

                        Dalmane (flurazepam)

                        Doral (quazepam)

                        Halcion (triazolam)

                        ProSom (estazolam)

                        Restoril (temazepam) and many others 

Paying the Price of a Poor Night’s Sleep

Everyone needs sleep, but just how much differs for everyone. Watch and listen to sleep experts talking about the kind of sleep we need, and what happens when we do not get enough sleep:                                       

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