Insomnia is the inability to fall or stay asleep on a regular basis and since everyone suffers from it at one time or another we all know how frustrating it can be. Insomnia hurts concentration, memory and performance, and it also creates fatigue and a diminished sense of well being.
There are two general types of insomnia:
Short term or temporary insomnia is usually the result of anxiety, stress or “monkey mind” and lasts less than a month. It can also be caused by a change in sleep environment and severe depression.
Chronic insomnia occurs consistently for over six months and can be caused by high levels of stress hormones or another sleep disorder. Its long terms effects can be incredible physical and mental fatigue, hallucinations and double vision.
There are many causes: biological, psychological and those related to lifestyle. Identifying and treating any underlying medical or psychological issues is a first step. Insomnia can also be caused by environment and certain medications. Other contributors are being over sixty, menopause, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, breathing problems and chronic pain. Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men.
Since most insomnia is related to anxiety, part of the treatment is relaxation techniques. Other recommendations involve good sleep hygiene, limiting caffeine, exercising regularly but not vigorously before bedtime, and sleeping in a dark, cool room. Insomniacs can also use Melatonin and other herbals. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be as effective as medications for treating chronic insomnia.
Medication and sleeping aids are often prescribed but I don’t recommend relying on prescription sleeping pills long term. They are better for short term sleep issues.