Currently one in three American adults complain of difficulties falling asleep
or staying asleep. This type of behavior is commonly termed insomnia.
Individuals who suffer from insomnia are often faced with difficulties
during the waking hours as well as the sleeping hours.
Insomnia affects people of all ages, and in most cases the disruption
will only last for one to two nights, but in some cases it can persist
for weeks, months, or years. Recent advances in understanding its
effects are making it possible for healthcare providers to help the
majority of troubled sleepers. Currently insomnia is broken down into
three distinctive categories.
An inability to sleep over a period of a few nights is called Transient
Insomnia. This type of insomnia is usually brought on by excitement
stress. Adults might typically experience this before important meetings
at work or after having a dispute with your spouse. Children may also
exhibit this behavior the night before the first day of school or
before an important sporting event. People are also likely to experience
this if they frequently travel or workout vigorously too close to
bedtime (typically within four hours) and an illness can also temporarily
disrupt a person's sleep.
Another type of insomnia is Short-term Insomnia which can be the result
of periods of consistent stress at home or at work which can result
in two to three weeks of poor sleep. In most cases when the stressful
situation ends or the sleeper becomes accustomed to it, sleep usually
returns to normal.
Today the most common complaint of insomnia falls into the category
of Chronic Insomnia. It is estimated that 35 million Americans complain
of chronic insomnia, which is sleeping poorly every night or most
nights or their lives. While most insomniacs worry about their sleep,
one should not blame all troubled sleep on worrying. During a study
by the Association of Sleep Disorders Centers, physical ailments such
as disorders of breathing (Sleep Apnea, Snoring) or muscle activity
(Periodic Leg Movements or Restless Legs) are the cause of more than
half of all cases of persistent insomnia.
Insomnia can be caused by any number of factors such as Psychological
factors, Lifestyle, Environmental factors, or Physical illness. Many
of these factors can be eliminated by simply practicing good sleep
habits like getting up at the same time every day, establishing pre-sleep
rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, just to name a few.
For additional good sleep habits refer to our discussion of sleep
hygiene in "Sleep Tips"
The most common question among those who complain of insomnia is "Do
sleeping pills work?". It is true that sleeping pills can provide
sounder sleep and improve alertness the following day in most cases,
but this relief is only temporary, since sleeping pills are not a
cure for insomnia. For types of insomnia associated with breathing
sleeping pills can be potentially dangerous. If you think you have
insomnia, it needs to be accurately diagnosed and discussed with a
Certified Sleep Specialist before treatment with medications is undertaken.
For additional information please contact the Sleep Institute of the
Gulf Coast at 868-7593.