What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a disorder that can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. In general, there are two types of insomnia: insomnia that has nothing to do with other medical conditions or (primary insomnia) and insomnia caused by other health problems (secondary insomnia).
Health problems that can cause insomnia include asthma, arthritis, depression, cancer or acid reflux (GERD). Consumption of medications or alcohol can also cause insomnia.
Based on the intensity, insomnia is divided into acute and chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia occurs in a short period of time — usually lasts for one night or up to several weeks with symptoms that disappear.
Meanwhile, chronic insomnia lasts longer — usually a month or more and is experienced nearly every night.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be experienced by anyone, regardless of gender and age. However, elderly people and people with pre-existing health problems are at higher risk to have insomnia.
Some of the common causes of insomnia may include:
- Psychological disorders. For example stress, lots of thoughts, depression, to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Irregular body’s biological clock. The biological clock can change due to sleep cycles that change over time. Usually, it can be caused by working night shifts.
- Age. The risk of developing insomnia is higher as you age.
- Menstruation. When having menstrual periods, your body experiences hormonal changes that can cause night sweats. This condition can cause sleep disorders.
- Long trips. Different time zones can cause jet lag and mess up your body’s biological clock — causing you to stay awake when you are not supposed to.
When to See a Doctor for Insomnia?
Consult your doctor immediately if you experience insomnia with the following complaints:
- Insomnia that lasts for more than 4 consecutive weeks and interferes with daily activities
- Regularly waking up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath
- Experience other conditions that make it difficult to fall asleep, such as muscle pain, heartburn, or other uncomfortable sensations in the body when trying to sleep
In diagnosing insomnia, doctors will need a number of information from patients, such as:
When diagnosing insomnia, your doctor will require some personal information regarding your:
- Sleep schedule
- Lifestyle, such as the habit of consuming drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol
- Exercise frequency and intensity
- Medical history
- Current medications
Then, your doctor will ask you to record a sleep schedule for two weeks. This sleep diary will help your doctor understand your sleep patterns, measure the severity of insomnia, and determine the appropriate treatment procedure
You may be asked to fill the sleep diary with information such as how long it takes for you to sleep when you start sleeping, and how many times you wake up in the middle of the night. Your doctor will provide a more accurate diagnosis if you put comprehensive information. This will also make it easier for your doctor to determine the right treatment for you.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Common symptoms of insomnia are relatively easy to detect — from difficulty falling asleep when you feel tired, easily waking up in the middle of sleep, and being unable to fall back to sleep, or not sleeping well.
Experiencing insomnia can cause symptoms of other health problems, such as:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty focusing on tasks or remembering
- Lower memory
- Low sex drive
- other physical disorders
- Other mental disorders
Treatment for Insomnia
There are several treatment options for insomnia — either medications, psychotherapy, or both. Your doctor will determine the appropriate treatment option based on your condition.
In cases of chronic insomnia, your doctor may provide sleeping pills for you to consume for several weeks.
Treatment Cost for Insomnia
Treatment cost for insomnia may vary depending on the number of consultations you get and the severity of the insomnia. For more details regarding estimated treatment costs for insomnia, hospital recommendations, and appointments with a specialist doctor at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Insomnia
You can prevent insomnia by doing the following ways:
- Avoid eating and drinking too much before bedtime. Your digestive system will have to work to digest the food and drink you have just consumed, making the body’s mechanism unable to rest.
- Insomnia can be prevented in various ways, some of which are as follows:
Moreover, the acid from food can flow from the stomach into the esophagus — causing you to have a hard time sleeping.
- Limit consumption of drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and chocolate are not good for your insomnia. If you consume either one before bedtime, you are more likely to have trouble sleeping at night.
In general, alcohol drinks prevent the body from going into deeper sleep and making you wake easily at night.
- Try to be active during the day. You may also have trouble sleeping if you are still energized at night.
- Avoid taking afternoon naps.
Home Remedies for Insomnia
There are simple home remedies that you can try to treat insomnia, such as:
Improve your sleep patterns
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep patterns, including:
- Make yourself accustomed to the same wake/sleep time for a period of time
- Avoid spending too much time on your gadgets or watching television before bedtime
- Turn the lights off when you go to bed. Darkness sends a signal to your body that it is time to rest.
- Make your bed as comfortable as possible. You may adjust the position of your pillows, keep your sheets and room clean, and set the right temperature
Stress, anxiety, fear keep your brain in an active state. Your mind becomes consumed and makes it difficult for you to fall asleep.
You should try to practice to manage stress. Take time for yourself by doing things you like, sharing and telling stories with people that you trust or consult a professional such as a psychologist.
Exercise offers many health benefits for your body. Exercise can reduce stress levels, and use up the energy in your body — making it easier for you to sleep at night. You are recommended to exercise regularly, 5 times a week, 30 minutes each session.
The best time exercise is in the morning. It is best to avoid exercising at night, particularly 3 hours before bedtime. You will have trouble sleeping because your metabolism, body temperature and energy increase after you exercise.