On average, an individual needs between six to eight hours of sleep per night. Children and toddlers may require more sleep and older adults less. Lack of enough sleep affects your day activities, and constant feelings of fatigue could be a sign of insomnia.
The National Sleep Foundation of U.S directs that insomnia is the habitual sleeplessness or the inability to sleep arising from an underlying medical condition. U.S’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are between 50 and 70 million adults, which amounts to over 35% of the adult population, suffering from sleep disorders with men being the most affected as compared to women.
60% of the adult population that exhibit signs of insomnia also reported there being a pre-existing chronic health disorder with those aged 65 and above reporting to be sleeping less than seven hours on any one given night. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine set aside March 10th to be the Insomnia Awareness day.
In general, at least 10% of the entire U.S population suffers from sleeplessness at least three times a week over the period of three months. Insomnia has significant implications on your health including
- Poor memory
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Increased rates of accidents
- Decreased quality of life like mood swings and difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships
Insomnia manifests in different ways including
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Feeling tired after getting out of bed in the morning
- Wake up very early in the morning with difficulty in going back to sleep
- Lying awake at night for long periods
- Waking up several times in the night
- Difficulty in napping despite feeling tired during the day
- Feeling tired and irritable during the day with low concentration levels
- Poor sleeping environments like a noisy, hot, or cold room, an uncomfortable mattress, noise, et al.
- Stress and anxiety
- Physical and mental health conditions like heart problems and schizophrenia
- Lifestyle factors like drinking caffeine or alcohol right before going to bed
- Medication e.g. antidepressants
The above symptoms can come and go in certain people while leaving a lasting effect on others that span months or years if left without treatment. What then are the treatment options available to insomnia patients available today?
This form of insomnia treatment does not use any medication, but it focuses on the cognitive as well as the behavioral techniques. Most of the treatments can be self-taught, but the integration of a sleep professional can be of immense help.
Relaxation Training: – This involves teaching the insomnia patient how to relax and tense muscles in different areas of the body to calm the body and induce sleep. Breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, et al. are part of relaxation that helps in reversing the effects of insomnia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): – This works to challenge any unhealthy fears and beliefs that revolve around sleep by teaching rational and positive thinking. It also emphasizes on the behavioral changes that incorporate a cognitive thinking component.
Stimulus Control: -Sleep therapists help an insomnia patient with building an association between the bedroom and sleep as well as sleep restriction. This is possible by limiting the number of activities carried out in the bedroom. Stimulus control includes going to bed when sleepy, as well as getting out of bed if it takes longer than 20 minutes without sleep either after going to bed or in the morning.
Sleep restriction involves having a strict program of waking up and sleeping times. Its aim is to limit being in bed only when one is sleeping.
There are different types of medications some issued via prescription while others are over-the-counter. The symptoms largely dictate the type of medications that one ought to take. It is beneficial to consult your physician or sleep therapist before taking any medicine.
These are sedative pills with zolpidem as an ingredient, which is a compound that selectively affects unbalanced chemicals in the brain that causes insomnia. The pills are of two kinds; the immediate release that helps the insomniac to fall asleep when they get to bed and the extended-release kind to help one to stay asleep.
The pills side effects impair emotional reactions and thinking, and its effects are much longer. There are reports that zolpidem can cause severe allergic reactions and it best to refrain continued use when signs of an allergic reaction start to appear like
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue and lips
- Difficulty in breathing
Sleep therapists suggest that one ought to refrain from sharing the pills with anyone even when the insomnia symptoms are similar. This is because the zolpidem dosages could be different for different people and sharing could lead to acute side effects that could turn out to be fatal.