Just What Is Insomnia? Everything You Need to Know About It.

man unable to sleep eyes wide open insomnia

It can be really hard to get a good night sleep sometimes. People stay up late or are unable to sleep as much as they would want to through the night for various reasons as watching a baby or preparing for an exam. Sometimes, job workloads may necessitate that you stay up for most periods of the night just to catch up. These are legitimate reasons for hitting the sack late or not at all.

But sleep is good and in fact necessary for survival. While it’s not a totally bad thing to not sleep once in a while, if sleep deprivation becomes consistent, then your health is at a great risk. It is good for you to have a good night sleep most times, if not all the time.

Benefits and Importance of Sleep

Helps Control Your weight

The logic behind this is that not getting enough sleep makes you tired, and when this happens, you are less likely to exercise and make healthy food choices. Think about those times you’d rather eat pizza for dinner rather than cook, or days when you missed your classes at the gym. They were probably days you felt too tired to do anything. Getting the right amount of sleep could translate to weight loss because you’re forgoing pizza and you’re not missing your gym sessions.

Sleep Helps Improve Memory

Good sleep helps to boost brain performance. You are less likely to forget things when you sleep well and you are also able to think better and perform more productively, either at school or at work.

Sleep Helps Boost Immunity

One of the negative effects of sleep deprivation is weakened immunity. This means that you are likely to fall ill more often. Getting a good night sleep ensures that you don’t visit the hospital often.

Sleep is a Lifesaver

Sleep can save your life. Having a good night sleep makes you alert during the day. You are less likely to doze off while driving or while operating machines or dangerous equipment at work. You are also less likely to fall off a scaffold, injure yourself while cooking or slip and fall.

Just how much sleep you need every night depends on your age. If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or you are unable to fall back to sleep when you wake up too early, then you might have insomnia. Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder that affects millions of people globally. Because good night sleep is important, insomnia is a threat to health and one that can affect a person’s quality of life.

Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment of Insomnia

Symptoms of Insomnia

Man sitting in the woods stressed and tired.

You might find it hard to sleep if you are emotionally disturbed or you are preparing for an important interview the next day. These circumstances can make good sleep difficult. This type of “sleep problem” is not really something you should worry because it’s temporary and soon enough, you are able to sleep as you normally would, without treatment.

The type of sleep problem that calls for serious concern is the type where you are unable to fall and stay asleep. If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, then you likely have insomnia:

  • Do you mostly feel tired when you wake up in the morning?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating at work or school?
  • Do you mostly feel irritable during the day?
  • Do you find it hard to sleep during the day even when you are tired?
  • Do you wake up frequently or stay awake during the night?
  • Are you worried that you may not be getting enough sleep?

It will be helpful to talk to your primary care physician if you have answered “yes” to most of these questions. Your primary care physician will ask certain questions to make a proper diagnosis. You may also be referred to a specialist if there is the need for it.

Causes of Insomnia

Sometimes insomnia is a symptom of another health condition like mental health problems or other sleep disorders. It could also be a side effect of certain medications and substances like alcohol and caffeine. At other times, insomnia is the primary problem and it is not as a result of any condition. For most people suffering from insomnia, the causes are:

Bad Eating Habits

Eating large and especially fatty meals late in the night can inhibit good night sleep. Because it’s likely that you’d go to bed soon after eating so late, you may likely have heart burn in addition to the physical discomfort you’d experience. This will make it really hard for you to sleep.

Irregular Work Schedule

Nurses, doctors, guards, drivers and people who work on shifts are more likely than others to have insomnia. This is because the body’s circadian rhythm that acts as an internal clock is disrupted by irregular sleep patterns. Once the sleep cycle is disrupted, having a good night sleep would be harder.

Constant Stress

It’s hard not to be stressed once in a while but when stress becomes constant, insomnia can set in. Money problems, relationship problems, unemployment, bereavement and illness can be sources of great stress. These problems can make it impossible for you to quiet your mind and sleep at night.

Insomnia can also be caused by commonly overlooked factors like:

  • Being too cold or hot at night
  • Surrounding noise that prevents your from sleeping — TVs and music players are the most common
  • Lights in the bedroom
  • A bed that’s not so comfortable

Insomnia Risk Factors

woman unable to sleep

Some people are at a greater risk of having insomnia. They include:

  • People who have irregular work schedule
  • People who have any physical health condition
  • Women
  • People who constantly stressed.
  • Adults above sixty years old
  • People who have a mental health problem

Treatment of Insomnia

You do not have to put up with insomnia for the rest of your life if you are already affected by it. There are methods that have proven helpful in dealing with the condition. If your insomnia is as a result of an underlying physical or mental health condition, the condition has to be treated first.  Usually, once the underlying condition is treated, insomnia resolves on its own.

10 Insomnia Remedies to Try

  • Do not drink tea, alcohol and any other beverage close to the time you’d go to sleep. If you want to take any of these substances, its best to take them at least six hours before you go to bed.
  • Ensure that you sleep on a comfortable bed. Make sure that your room is neither too hot nor too cold, and that it is free from noise and light.
  • Do not eat late at night and take only very little amount of water close to bedtime.
  • Have a regular sleep pattern and stick to it. This means that you should try to go to bed the same time, everyday.
  • Restrict strenuous activities to mornings and afternoons.
  • Limit your on-screen time at night. Prolonged exposure to tablets, TV, phones and similar devices at bedtime will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep supplements like melatonin have proven to be a lifesaver for some insomnia sufferers.
  • When you find yourself unable to sleep at night, engage in relaxing activities like listening to soft music. This can help you fall back to sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping during the day.

These simple tips can be very useful in preventing insomnia and help to improve the quality of your sleep.