Insomnia refers to the inability to achieve or maintain normal sleep and is one of the most common complaints seen in medical practice. There are two basic forms of insomnia. In sleep-onset insomnia, a person has difficulty falling asleep. In sleep-maintenance insomnia, a person suffers from frequent or early waking. Insomnia results in a continuous cycle of debilitating fatigue that impacts on the quality of life.
Causes of Insomnia
- Depression, anxiety and tension
- various foods, drinks or medications may be responsible, such as thyroid preparations, oral contraceptives, beta-blockers, marijuana, alcohol, coffee, tea or chocolate.
- Besides these, there are over 300 drugs that can interfere with normal sleep patterns.
- Other medical causes include pain, infections, heart disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, anaemia, cramping, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, hyperventilation syndrome, restless leg syndrome, diabetes and urinary frequency.
Poor sleep or lifestyle habits may cause insomnia or make it worse: Going to bed at different times each night, Daytime napping, Poor sleeping environment, such as too much noise or light, not enough excercise, using television or computer in bed
- Trouble falling asleep
- Feeling tired during the day
- Not feeling refreshed when you wake up
- Waking up several times during sleep
A lack of restful sleep can affect your ability to do your daily activities because you are tired or have trouble concentrating.
Support for Insomnia
Pharmacologically-induced sleep (sedatives, tranquilisers and anti-histamines) should be the last consideration in managing insomnia long-term as doses may need to be decreased and drug dependency becomes a feature. Other techniques such as exercise, and progressive relaxation. Sleeping in a dark room may also enhance the natural production of melatonin—the sleep-enhancing hormone.
Call your health care provider
Call your doctor if insomnia has become a problem. Your health care provider will be able to do a physical exam and ask you questions about your current medications, drug use, and medical history.