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Insomnia. What is it?

Updated on August 8, 2017

Lack of sleep, widely known as insomnia, affects many in our busy society. Fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, and difficulty in concentrating are all problems associated with it.

Insomnia is more clearly defined as inadequate or poor-quality sleep, not so much by number of hours slept. It's usually caused by one or more of the following:

Difficulty falling asleep.
Waking up frequently.
Waking up too early.
Feeling tired even after sleep.

What Causes It?

There are many causes however, certain factors seem to contribute to it:

Advanced age (more frequent in those over 60).
More common in females.

Insomnia has three classifications:

Transient (short term). A few days to several weeks
Intermittent (on and off). Occurs from time to time.
Chronic (constant). Lasting a month or more.

Insomnia is more likely to be a problem if other contributing factors exist such as:

Some medical problems, and medications.

Transient and intermittent insomnia generally occur along with:

Extended exposure to loud noise.
Extreme temperatures.
Some environmental changes.
Problems such as jet lag.
Medication side effects.

Chronic insomnia is more difficult to diagnose. There are often a combination of factors such as underlying physical or mental disorders, often resulting from a combination of factors. The most common being depression. Other causes can include:

Kidney disease.
Heart failure.
Sleep apnea.
Parkinson's disease.
Narcolepsy (Problems affecting the control of sleep and wakefulness).

However, chronic insomnia can also have some behavioral factors:

Overuse of caffeine, alcohol, and similar products.
Changes in sleep cycles. For example, a change to a night shift work schedule.
Chronic stress.
Smoking before sleeping.
Taking naps during the day.

Insomnia affects people of all ages, but usually the elderly. However, it seems to be more common in females, especially after menopause. The ability to sleep seems to decrease with the older one becomes.

Transient and intermittent cases may not require extensive treatment.

Mainly since they are short lived. 

Many use over-the-counter sleeping pills. This only treats symptoms,
not the cause. 

Diagnose and treat medical or psychological problems.

Identify behaviors contributing to the problem.

Relaxation and sleep restriction therapy. These are methods employed to reduce anxiety and body tension. Some suffering from insomnia spend too much time trying to sleep, without much success. A sleep restriction program may help. First allow only a few hours of sleep nightly, then gradually increasing sleep hours until a normal night's sleep is attained.

Reconditioning. This treatment concentrates on associating bed and bedtime with sleep. It is advisable to retire only when sleepy. If this fails, stay up and remain awake until sleep seems possible. Insomnia sufferers should not take naps and retire to bed at the same time nightly. Eventually sleep habits should return to normal.

Sleep is needed for our bodies to repair and recharge itself. When people have problems sleeping, they should determine if the problem is falling asleep or staying asleep. This can help identify if diet and blood sugar is part of the problem.

The food police have beaten us about the head and shoulders for years demanding we abstain from caffeinated drinks. These may stimulate our bodies, however the problem involves more than what we eat or drink.

The problem is many seek stimulation late in the evening. This may include:

Watching television.

Playing video games.

Surfing the Internet.

Working late hours.

These are usually the same ones reaching for a sleeping pill to offset stimulation brought on earlier in the day. Unfortunately, like any drug, there are side effects.

It wasn't long ago when the sun went down so did people. They worked hard during the day and after supper, going to bed was a welcome relief.

Sleep and Hormones.

According to several sleep studies, approximately 45% percent of Americans experience insomnia symptoms. Most tend to believe it's because they're getting older. In many cases this may be true However, there may be other factors at work. An underlying hormone issue may be at fault.

Sleep is essential. While sleeping, our bodies are working hard performing a variety of biological processes to help restore organs, tissues and cognitive functions. It's also affected by many other causes.

These include environment, diet, physical activity, stress, menopause and a host of others. Researchers are still studying long-term health implications of poor sleep. Immune and mental function, as well as mood can all be affected.

As adults, we think we don't need as much sleep. Therefore, any such problems must be related to age. No matter what your age it's just as important for older people to get 6 plus hours of sleep nightly as it is for younger people.

Stimulation and inhibitory neurotransmitters

The imbalance of these two types of neurotransmitters have been connected with insomnia, depression, anxiety, PMS, cravings, and weight loss. Billions of dollars are made on sleeping pills, anti-depressants, weight-loss drugs, and other medications. The fact is, if your body can’t make enough “inhibitory” brain messengers to balance the “stimulating”ones,

Naturally, there are those who claim they have no problem falling asleep. However, they fail to mention a few hours later they wake up and can't go back to sleep.This could possibly be a blood sugar problem, caused by poor diet. But it can also be associated with stress and adrenal fatigue. Their adrenals can’t keep blood sugar stable. Therefore, their bodies self-healing properties give them an emergency shot of adrenaline to restore blood sugar levels.

Simple Steps .

Sleeping pills manipulate our brain chemistry so we can fall asleep. But, there can be various side effects. but if we don't want to take that route its possible to balance these neurotransmitters without drugs. Stress strongly contributes to sleep problems. The simplest answer is stop over-stimulating ourselves in the evening. Caffeine can also be a problem.

Pay attention to your diet to ensure your adrenals don't become fatigued. A healthy dinner including protein and fats can keep blood sugar levels stable for hours. Eat a snack before going to bed. This will keep blood sugar stable. Avoid products containing refined, processed sugar.

Understanding insomnia

Although insomnia is a common sleep complaint, it is not a single sleep disorder. It could be something as simple as drinking too much caffeine during the day or a more complex problem such as an underlying medical condition. However, most cases can be helped by small changes without relying on prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills.

Adopt New Habits

Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep. Try using a recording of soothing nature sounds or earplugs. Open windows or use a fan to keep your bedroom cool. Use blackout curtains or a sleep mask. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

Avoid naps.

Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime.

Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime.

Your brain produces melanin, a hormone helping regulate sleep and wake cycles. Melanin is controlled by exposure to light. Not enough natural light during the day may make you feel sleepy, while too much artificial light can make going to sleep more difficult. Try getting more natural sunlight, limit the use of and keep curtains open during the day.

Increase melanin production by using low-wattage bulbs.


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