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Chronic Insomnia Causes, Cures, Treatment, Management and Remedies

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

Dr. John uses skills in Biochemistry, Physiology (PhD) to review topics on mental health, depression, sleep, stress, setting positive goals

What is insomnia? How can you tell if it is a minor problem or a genuine case of insomnia that you may need to deal with to avoid some of the associated physical and mental problems that can develop? Having trouble sleeping can be extremely frustrating to the sufferer who may no know how to control it and alleviate the associated secondary concerns.

Insomnia is defined as the inability of a person to get to sleep, stay sleeping or some combination of both aspects of sleeplessness. Insomnia is, in its simplest form is quite common occasionally and affects most people some of the time. When describing your insomnia it is significant to recall that insomnia is not measured by counting the number of hours a person spends sleeping. Various people require less or more hours sleep. But insomnia is recognized by determining whether the individual feels refreshed and renewed after their night’s sleep. It is quality and effectiveness of sleep rather than quantity, though the hours you sleep is obviously part of it.

Stop feeling tired by understanding why you are not getting enough quality sleep. Maybe you have a major problem.
Stop feeling tired by understanding why you are not getting enough quality sleep. Maybe you have a major problem. | Source
Insomnia can have many related complications
Insomnia can have many related complications | Source
performance at the Insomnia Berlin
performance at the Insomnia Berlin | Source
The Fruit of the Mandragora an ancient remedy for Insomnia
The Fruit of the Mandragora an ancient remedy for Insomnia | Source

Problems Related to Insomnia

When talking about the symptoms of insomnia it is important to recognize that insomnia itself is often a symptom of other condition affecting the individual. Therefore, bouts of insomnia can be experienced by someone who is under a lot of tension or stress, a change in their daily schedule or pattern of life, their dietary habits or personal status, all of which that may disturb the individual’s sleep patterns. There are many ailments which can cause insomnia without being associated with obvious causes such as pain.

When trying to find out if a person is experiencing insomnia or not, it is significant to identify some of the symptoms of insomnia as it takes its toll on the body, brain and the emotions.

  • The Physical Body - The well being of the body depends on several factors. Some of those components encompass a correct diet, exercise and correct hygiene. Another significant component in sustaining the well being of the human body is getting enough sleep for the individual's requirements. When an individual is experiencing insomnia this status disturbs the renewal and reinvigorating outcome, that a correct night’s sleep has on the body. Therefore, some of the symptoms of insomnia can encompass headaches, fatigue and in some critical situations, can lead to heart problems.
  • The Mind - Other symptoms of insomnia can encompass its consequences on the mind. When the correct rest is not accomplished there can be a corresponding detrimental impacts on the mind’s proficiency to respond, react, think, and other though processes. These adverse symptom of insomnia can be a dangerous when driving a vehicle or perform other critical duties or a person's ability to properly do their job.
  • The Emotions - Additional symptoms of insomnia can be the impact the lack of sleep can have on the emotions. The need of a correct night’s sleep can cause tension, despondency and anxiety. In addition, the symptoms of insomnia can cause considerable mood swings in the life of the insomniac. The sufferer may be hard to live with and cranky.

All of these symptoms of insomnia can create added tension in the life of the individual as well as affecting those closest around them.

Sleeping Difficulties versus insomnia

Sleep difficulties can be very frustrating as many people keep themselves awake by worrying about going to sleep. Mild sleep difficulties can be treated or managed at home, but long-term sleep problems and insomnia may need professional treatment.

Insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. The notion of what constitutes ‘a good nights sleep’ differs broadly from individual to individual. While the average night’s sleep for a mature adult is generally about seven or eight hours, some people only require 4, while other like up to 10 hours or even more. This means that what appears to be insomnia to one individual might be regarded a good sleep by another person. Some individuals can also train themselves to function adequately with little sleep, either temporarily of permanently.

Trouble Sleeping is a Widespread Complaint

About 30 percent of people experience sleep problems or mild insomnia from time to time, but only about five percent require remedy for the condition. Short-term sleep problems are normally initiated by such things as stressful episodes, changes when and where you sleep and with whom, jet lag, use of drugs and stimulants such as coffee, tea and caffeinated drinks. Some acute health problems and stimulant medications can also cause insomnia. Normal sleep patterns usually come back after the causes are removed or the stressful period has been completed.

If a individual has experienced sleeping difficulties for more than a month, this is referred to as continual or chronic insomnia. There are numerous causes of continual insomnia. These include:

  • Secondary insomnia – due to a variety of health and psychiatric difficulties and the chronic use of pharmaceuticals and alcohol.
  • Primary sleep disorders – encompass circadian rhythm disorders, inadequate sleep syndromes, central sleep apnoea-insomnia syndrome, and periodic limb movement or restless legs syndromes.
  • Idiopathic insomnia – sleeplessness without a known origin, previously called childhood onset insomnia.

Keep Sleep in the Right Perspective

People who are victims of insomnia bouts are commonly discouraged or antagonise by it. Paradoxically, this emotional state contributes to keeping them awake. It helps to stop anticipating a set amount of sleep every night. Having less sleep than you are used to or think you need doesn’t generally cause any harm. Allow yourself to fall short of your perfect amount of sleep without getting troubled by it.

Home Remedies and Tips for Short-Term insomnia

  • Stop napping during the day.
  • Reduce drinking and smoking.
  • Avoid tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks within a certain number of hours before going to bed. Everyone is different and you should work out the length of the exclusion period that suits you
  • Don’t engage in strenuous exercise before bedtime.
  • Try to do something to relax and quiet you down before sleep, such as meditating, listening to soft music or have a warm bath.
  • Delay going to bed until you feel sleepy.
  • Reschedule you daily activities so that you bed later.
  • Make sure you stop reading, worrying or watching television in bed and limit your activities in the bedroom to sleeping and sex.
  • If you can’t sleep, don't stay thrashing about, get up, go into another room and do something else for a while until you feel sleepy again.
  • Get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much sleep you have had. Otherwise you may tend to reset your biological clock.
  • Avoid ‘judging’ your sleep on a day-to-day basis. Just accept what comes and don't go to bed earlier the next night unless you feel sleepy earlier.

Treatment for Long-Term Chronic insomnia

Insomnia that has persevered for years will require expert support and a lot of patience and perseverance. It might take a considerable amount of time to re-establish your usual sleeping patterns. Some of the methods utilised by sleep disorder clinics include such things as:

  • A sleep journal, to assist you pinpoint the cause and pattern of insomnia
  • A program of gentle sleep deprivation
  • Medication to assist you establish new sleeping routine and your biological clock
  • Exposure to brilliant light in the morning
  • Behavioural therapy.

Where to get help for Sleep Problems and Insomnia

  • Your doctor
  • Sleep disorder clinic

Things to Remember

  • Insomnia is a symptom not a disease.
  • The cause (or causes) of insomnia needs and can to be recognised and corrected.
  • Insomnia entails having problems that arise when you cannot sleep, the amount of sleep is not the issue it is the problem caused by insufficient sleep.
  • Many people keep themselves awake by worrying about not being able to go to sleep. This is a vicious circle that needs to be broken,
  • Long-term chronic insomnia needs expert diagnosis and support and a lot of patience and perseverance .

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© 2011 Dr. John Anderson


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  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 4 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    This is really important. You may have a serious problem.

  • profile image

    annamie101 4 years ago

    Wow, this blog says a lot! Indeed, insomia has a lot of factors why it happens to a lot of people and surely, such issues with insomia can be solved.

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