Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or cause early waking without getting back to sleep. It can also make people feel tired when they wake up.
Insomnia can affect motivation, energy levels and mental health, including negative work performance and daily life. Most humans will have insomnia in at least one part of their life.
Whilst insomnia can manifest in various ways. It is often diagnosed in 2 categories:
- Sleep onset insomnia refers to those who have difficulty falling asleep.
- Sleep maintenance insomnia is the difficulty to stay asleep.
Symptoms of insomnia may include:
- Daytime tiredness or sleeping
- Not feeling rested after sleep
- Trouble sleeping
- Waking during the night
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
- Waking up too early
- Ongoing worries about sleep
- Increase in errors or mistakes
There are 3 types of insomnia; acute, transient and chronic.
Acute insomnia usually lasts no more than a month and is often caused by certain stress such as an exam or deadline or a change in environment. It can also be referred to as adjustment insomnia and will more than likely resolve when the thing that has caused the stress is resolved or when a person has adapted to the new situation.
Transient insomnia usually lasts no more than a week and is often caused by another condition or change in the sleep environment. It can also be caused by depression or stress. Bad sleeping habits can be linked to this too.
Chronic insomnia usually lasts more than a month; acute and transient insomnia can change into chronic insomnia and is more common in underlying risks such as mental or physical health issues such as chronic pain, depression or medication.
Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night for their body and brain to fully function. Those with insomnia often do not get this, meaning their mind is not working at its full potential. This will cause a person to make more mistakes as their concentration is affected. A person with insomnia can also feel low and irritable because of their frustration when trying to sleep. If lack of sleep continues, it increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Sleep also helps with weight management so that insomnia can heighten the risk of obesity and weight-related health conditions.
Some medications can be used to treat insomnia, such as antihistamines or sedating antidepressants. However, just having a healthy sleep routine and hygiene can positively impact those with insomnia. Making sure not to spend too much awake time in bed. Spicy food before bed can make a negative difference to sleep, and not drinking or smoking, especially before bed, can make a big positive difference. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) therapy can help some with insomnia, and a doctor may recommend this.