Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. According to the National Sleep Foundation 15-35% of the general population suffer with insomnia. But you don’t have to suffer with insomnia if you learn to take control of things that trigger your insomnia. Before we discuss beating insomnia, let’s review a few things about normal sleep.
WHAT IS NORMAL SLEEP?
Sleep is divided into rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and Non-REM. Non-REM sleep is further divided in to stages characterized by brainwave activity, eye movement and muscle tone. There are three non-REM stages of sleep: N1, N2, N3
N1 is a light drowsy sleep. If you have ever tried to stay awake during a boring class, you know the signs of N1 sleep. The eyes roll upward, it is difficult to keep your eyes opened, the muscles relax and your head falls forward.
N2 is the first true stage of sleep. N2 is characterized by fast brainwaves called spindles and intermittent large waves called K complexes. To accurately identify this stage, you need to be in a monitored setting with electrodes attached to your scalp.
N3 is deep sleep. You need to have a young child, or at least one that you can bother for a couple of hours, to see this stage. During N3 sleep, you can pick a child up, put the child in bed and the child never wakes up! Deep sleep is just what it sounds like.
REM sleep is what we think of when we talk about dreaming. Actually, dreams occur in all stages of sleep. You are more likely to recall your dream if awakened during REM sleep.
WHAT IS INSOMNIA?
Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. People with insomnia are not satisfied with the quality of their sleep and they have daytime symptoms to prove it. In fact, insomnia is not a medical diagnosis unless sleep disturbance is associated with some amount of adverse affect on daytime function.
People with insomnia complain of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. Did you know not going to bed at a reasonable time could also be a form of insomnia.
Some people, frequently children, cannot fall asleep unless certain conditions are present: For example inability to fall asleep without a pacifier, blanket or massage. Some adults cannot fall asleep if the television is turned off. These are forms of insomnia.
Common daytime symptoms associated with insomnia include fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school. In addition, too many sleepless nights can make you prone to errors or accidents. Behavior problems can be causes or increased by sleep disturbance.
Types of Insomnia
There are two types of insomnia: acute and chronic The two types of insomnia are mostly distinguished by the duration of symptoms. Unlike acute insomnia, there are many subtypes of chronic insomnia. Daytime symptoms of acute and chronic insomnia are similar.
Acute insomnia, also known as short-term insomnia or adjustment insomnia, affects about 15-20% of people. Women are more likely to suffer with acute insomnia compared to men. Acute insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up earlier than desired and not being able to return to sleep.
Acute insomnia is diagnosed when you don’t sleep well multiple times during the week for at least one month but less than three months and there are daytime symptoms. Acute insomnia usually starts after exposure to a “trigger”. Examples of things that trigger insomnia are the thought of starting a new job or worrying about an upcoming examination at school.
Chronic insomnia is a more serious disorder and can significantly decrease the quality of your life. Insomnia becomes chronic when symptoms are present for at least three nights per week for three or more months.
The American Academy of Sleep Disorders Medicine recognizes eight subtypes of chronic insomnia
1. Psychophysiological insomnia
2. Idiopathic insomnia
3. Paradoxical insomnia
4. Inadequate sleep hygiene
5. Behavioral insomnia of childhood
6. Insomnia due to mental Disorder
7. Insomnia due to a medical condition
8. Insomnia due to a drug or substance
Read more about each type of insomnia from the National Sleep Foundation Website https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-are-different-types-insomnia
WHAT CAUSES INSOMNIA?
The cause of insomnia is multifactorial and every person is different. Common causes of chronic insomnia include changes in the environment, poor sleep hygiene, going to work before 5 a.m. and night shift work, medical disorders, medications, diet, stress, and using cell phones and other electronic devices around bedtime.
Six Causes of Insomnia You Can Beat
Here are six common causes of insomnia that you can take control and beat your problems with insomnia.
· Mental Health Disorders
· Worried about finances
· Night Shift or Swing shift work schedule
· Travel across time zones.
· Sedentary lifestyle
How You can Beat Insomnia
Try these DIY tips for reclaiming restful nights and beating insomnia
1. Control How You React to Stress
The first thing you must do is control your stress level by identifying what stresses you. Then see if you can avoid the stress trigger.
Practice the A's Avoid and Adapt
Learn to Avoid stressful situations
Learn to Adapt to situations that are stressful but you cannot change
Get social with the right people
Carve out time to relax
Establish meaningful relationships
For more tips on reducing stress click https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htmvg
2. Mental Health Care
Find out if you are depressed or anxious by taking a self administered screening test called the hospital anxiety scale. The hospital anxiety depression scale is used by professionals to screen patients with anxiety or depression, two common causes of insomnia. You can get the questionnaire and the answer key by clicking here:
If your score is abnormal seek medical help or some form of counseling
Build healthy relationships to improve your mental health
Here's some tips from HelpGuide.org to help you connect with the right people
Tips for building relationships
1. Reach out to a colleague at work
2. Help someone else by volunteering
3. Have lunch or coffee with a friend
4. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly
5. Accompany someone to the movies or a concert
6. Call or email an old friend
7. Go for a walk with a workout buddy
8. Schedule a weekly dinner date
9. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club
10. Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach
3. Get Serious About Money Management
You simply cannot sleep well if you are worried about paying your bills. Let’s face it. Money and the lack of money can be a stressor. For a free webinar on money matters, look here https://www.moneymanagement.org/webinars
If you need to rebuild your financial health check out this government site https://www.mymoney.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Sign up for free money management courses through your job, local non-profit or your credit union. Find personal financial management instructions with a provider approved by the United States Justice Department at the link below