Insomnia - A Sleeping Disorder

When writing and researching the hubs I wrote for the Healthy Hubs Contest the hubs I wrote nearly all revolved around the subject of insomnia so it seem a logical step to take these hubs and group them together and put some structure to them. The first step in adding the structure was to add this hub which explained about insomnia in more detail.

What is Insomnia?

We all recognise that insomnia is a sleep disorder and if you asked anybody to explain what insomnia is I expect they would tell you that insomnia is where a person can't get to sleep. This is of course true but waking up too early in the morning or, waking up in the night and then having problems getting back to sleep are also both symptoms of insomnia which then cause us to feel tired the next day or as if we didn't get enough sleep.

Insomnia - A Sleeping Disorder

Photo courtesy of Kellan
Photo courtesy of Kellan

Treating Sleep Disorders

How much sleep do I need?

We spend about a third of our lives asleep and getting a healthy night's sleep is vital to ensuring that our bodies function at their optimal performance levels, but just like the three bears from Goldilocks had different tastes in porridge we all have different needs in the amounts of sleep we require.

Most people's need for sleep would fall in a range somewhere in between seven and nine hours of sleep a night but we all know people who can function pefectly well with only four or five hours of sleep a night. So how do you know whether you are getting the right amount of sleep or not. Well I guess how you feel is probably the best measure to use as if you are deprived of the correct amount of sleep for any length of time it will start to show. If you feel well, have a regular sleeping pattern and wake feeling as if you've had enough sleep you're most likely to be getting enough sleep.

What are the effects of Insomnia?

Insomnia can have wide ranging physical and psychological effects some of which include:

Irritability and Mood Swings - This can result in every day occurrences such as spilling a drink provoke a reaction which is totally out of proportion, for example insomniacs may burst into tears or become very angry.

Chronic Fatique - When our bodies don't get enough sleep our muscles and joints can become inflamed and they become sore and ache just as if we had flu.

Stress and Depression - A prolonged lack of sufficient sleep may cause you to become depressed and it also increases the activity of hormones that cause stress. But stress and depression can also lead to Insomnia.

Impaired mental functioning - Insomnia can affect one's ability to perform daily tasks as it impairs your concentration and memory,

Heart disease - A study of people suffering with chronic insomnia were found to have heart and nervous system activity that might put them at risk for heart disease.

Headaches - Headaches that develop in the night or early in the morning may be caused by insomnia.

Obesity - If you're not getting sufficient sleep the chances are that your BMI (body mass index) will increase. This is due to the fact that your body produces more of the appetite enhancing hormone ghrelin and less of the appetite surpressing hormone leptin so not getting enough sleep can cause you to eat more.


 

Primary and Secondary Insomnia

Insomnia is considered to be either primary or secondary:

  • Primary insomnia is where the sleep problems are not due to any other underlying medical condition or illness.
  • Secondary insomnia is where the sleep problems are caused by something else such as an such as the side effects of alcohol or an illness or medical condition

Transient, Short-term and Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia is usually broken down into three categories, transient, short-term and chronic.  We have transient insomnia when we lose one or two nights' sleep worrying about something like giving a presentation and there is little or no impairment to our functioning during the day.  We have short term insomnia when we can’t sleep for a week or two such as when we are greiving over the loss of a close friend and this is likely to mildly impair our functioning and give us feelings of irratibilty and tirdness.  Once the problem continues for longer than three weeks the insomnia is considered chronic.  This can severely impair our functioning during the day and cause strong feelings of anxiety, irritability restlessness, irritability and fatigue

What should I do if I'm not sleeping?

If you are already suffering from chronic insomnia you should consult your physician without delay. It doesn’t mean that you will have to resort to the conventional medical treatment of sleeping tablets but your doctor will want to discuss your sleeping habits and your lifestyle. He or she will check your medical history for any medicines or medical conditons that may be causing your insomnia, and they will ask if you are taking any other substances, such as recreational drugs and will question you about your drinking habits.

If your insomnia is less serious you may want to try some of alternative methods of natural treatments before consulting your doctor. Either way the keeping of a sleep diary can be extremely useful in helping you understand the pattern of your insomnia.

Keeping a Sleep Diary

This should be kept for a minimum of two weeks and should contain information about:

  • time of going to bed,
  • time taken to get to sleep,
  • the number of episodes of waking throughout the night,
  • the time of getting up,
  • episiodes of daytime tiredness and naps, and
  • times of meals, alcohol consumption, and significant events during the day such as exercise or stress.

Below is one example of a sleep diary which you can or adapt to meet your own circumstances.

My Sleep Diary

 
 
 Date:
 
 
 
Bedtime: 
 
Wake up time:
 
 
 
Time Asleep:
 
No of times awake in night:
 
Times of waking in night:
 
Quality of Sleep:
 
(on scale of one to ten)
 
Tiredness during the day
 
(on scale of one to ten)
 
 
 
Day in Menstrual Cycle
 
(One is first day of bleeding)
 
Caffeine
 
- Amount consumed
 
- Time consumed
 
Alcohol
 
- Amount consumed
 
- Time consumed
 
Medication
 
- Medicine taken
 
- Time taken
 
Food/drink
 
- Amount consumed
 
- Time consumed
 
Exercise
 
- Time of Exercise
 
Episodes of Stress/Emotion
 
- Nature of Event
 
- Time of Event 
 

More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 5 years ago Author

Hi Kenneth

I'm pleased that you liked the hub.

Amber:)


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Dear Amber, this is an awesome story. It appeals to me as I have occasional bouts with insomnia, and even with sleep aids, the 'sandman' is sometimes a stranger. Keep great stories like this coming. Loved it.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

A sleep diary is also very helpful if you should need to seek medical help about your insomnia. It shows your doctor that you are not coming to him just because you've had a couple of bad nights' sleep. Sweet Dreams and Take Care.

Amber:)


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Okay I've been using the sleep diary and it's proven itself to be helpful for me to better prepare for a good nights rest and avoid Insomnia. Sweet Dreams and Thanks :)


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi katie

A diary is often a great way to gather data about an illness. Thanks for popping by.

Amber:)


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Okay I confess I was not a fan of the diary concept, the sleep diary seemed like to much work. Now I realize the helpful information one can gather to help with transient short term and chronic insomnia. Journals and diaries can help and are worth the effort. I came back to check out your example. Thanks :)


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi katie

Unfortunately this doesn't rank as highly as I'd like as it is a hub that I'm quite proud of. It gets a steady but fairly low readership. I've taken your advice and moved the first photograph down the page. I hoping as it is an evergreen topic that readership will grow over time.

Amber:)


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

This is a great hub on Sleep disorders and it must be ranking well, I noticed all the great adds stuffed in where ever Google can fit them, great advertising going on here, hummmmm if a hub is great I guess they work it out. Transiet short term and chronic Insomnia, it's all a mess for ones health. Thanks for the great information on sleep and the lack there of!


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hello mr daydream

Thank you so much for reference linking my hub.

Amber:)


mr. daydream profile image

mr. daydream 6 years ago

Great hubpiece. I've recommended this hub as a reference link on my "In The Late-Nite Hour" hub.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi brethodge

Thank you for taking the time to read my hub and leave your kind comments

Amber:)


brethodge profile image

brethodge 6 years ago from USA

A veryinformative hub.. Iliked the way of writing in to a flow.. You have given some good tips like sleep diary.. sometimes I do feel the same..


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

katiem2 - Thanks for commenting. I'm pleased that you've found my hub useful. Amber:)


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Amber Allen, Great Hub about short term and chronic Insomnia. I learned a great deal about the topic and found it very helpful as I have a dear friend who suffers. Hum who knew. Thanks and Peace :)


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi anginwu

A diary like this is very useful in pinpointing lots of other health problems too. Thanks for commenting.

Amber:)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Great comprehensive hub. I like your detailed sleep diary. This is useful in helping to pinpoint underlying causes. Thanks for sharing.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Majidsiko

I think you meant to say chronic insomnia rather than terminal insomnia as insomnia is not usually fatal but as you say rightly say insomnia can be a sign of depression. Anyone suffering with chronic insomnia does need to seek medical assistance without delay. Thank you for taking thetime to read my hub and commenting.

Amber:)


Majidsiko profile image

Majidsiko 6 years ago from Kenya

Great Hub. We must also not forget that terminal Insomnia is a sign of depression and should be looked into seriously. Thanks for the update


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Prasetio

Your kind comments and rating up are much appreciated. I'm so pleased you found the article useful.

Amber:)


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Good article. I like this one. Because my mother sometimes felt uncomfortable with her sleep. And I think this is a sign of insomnia. I found something new from this hub. And it give me information about insomnia. Thank you so much Amber for showing me about this. I think this hub useful for us. I rate this Up!


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Pamela

Thanks for dropping by, reading my latest hub and leaving your encouraging comments. It is truly appreciated.

Amber:D


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

@hubpageswriter - Thank you for your kind comments. A sleep diary can be extremely useful in pinpointing the cause of insomnia.

Amber:)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

This was a very well written hub about something that plagues many people. I had never thought of a sleep diary which is a great idea. Good hub.


hubpageswriter 6 years ago

A sleep diary is a good idea certainly. Great hub.

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