Sleeping has always been easy cake for me as long as it isn't a noisy night. I usually get at least 6 hours of sleep and that is just about fine. I find it difficult to take afternoon naps but a good night's sleep isn't so far from me. As much as I like my night sleep, I also pride myself as a nightcrawler. I could stay awake for as long as I want to especially if I'm binge-watching a show or reading a book.
It usually bites me in the ass when I'm in my night-crawler mode, as expected. Nature doesn't like getting cheated so it takes back the sleep days after and I get to have long daytime sleep that feels like I had been hit by a truck. It's like a very long hangover which gets me swearing I'd never stay awake but then I end up doing it all over again.
I eventually stopped this bad habit about five months ago and enjoy my night's sleep almost every night until recently. Only this time, I'm not intentionally staying awake, my body just won't go to sleep.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up. -Mayo Clinic
There is acute insomnia that lasts one night to a few weeks and there is chronic insomnia that stretches up to months.
Types of Insomnia
According to the American Psychiatric Association, insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder. There are different types of insomnia but the two main types are primary and secondary insomnia.
This insomnia usually has no underlying health condition or known cause.
This could occur due to underlying health conditions like sleep apnea, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, cancer or even alcohol abuse.
Insomnia comes in different forms. It could be trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep through the night or waking up too early.
Symptoms of Insomnia
Some symptoms of insomnia include;
- Sleepiness during the day
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking up too early
- Loss of concentration
Insomnia is easy to self-diagnose because the symptoms are quite obvious. However, when the problem persists, it's advisable to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. In the case of anxiety and depression for example, it might be hard to self-diagnose because they can either be causes or results of insomnia. This is why a professional is needed for further diagnosis.
Treatment of Insomnia
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the clinical ways to treat insomnia and is recommended as a first-hand treatment by the American College of Physicians. This is also known as talk therapy done by psychologists to educate and coach the patient in order to treat insomnia.
Medications can also be used in treating insomnia, basically the regular sleeping pills but they're only advisable for short-term use. My pharmacist friend advised I use a brand of Bromazepam (Lexotan) for a night to help me sleep. She stressed using it only a few times because long use has side effects like anxiety, unusual excitement, and nervousness.
Melatonin is naturally produced by the body and induces sleep. Studies are inconclusive as to whether melatonin supplements help treat insomnia but there's evidence it decreases the time it takes to fall asleep.
I chose not to resort to drugs and stuck to sleep hygiene instead. It proved futile the first few days but I gradually began sleeping better when I changed certain bedtime habits. I cut out caffeine, reduced my screen time just before bed, and turned off the lights that usually reflect into my room at night.
Another treatment for insomnia is meditation. It helps with anxiety, depression, stress and generally helps you sleep better.
Taking alcohol before bedtime also helped me fall asleep but that was an artificially induced sleep I would later come to regret. It rearranged my body clock right after I already was sleeping better and I had to start all over again.
Before it gets complicated...
Insomnia is a real cause for worry that shouldn't be overlooked. It takes a toll on general health and could put you at risk for a number of conditions and reduced performance. The cycle of anxiety causing insomnia and insomnia causing anxiety could lead to borderline chronic insomnia. See a doctor especially if your insomnia lasts for an extended period of time.