What is insomnia?
Have you ever suffered from a difficulty in falling asleep or frequent night time awakenings? For most people, the answer is yes.
Insomnia (or sleep disturbance) is a common symptom with a prevalence rate of 30-40% in the general population. But a single episode of sleep disturbance is not a serious problem. The rate of significant insomnia disorder is only 5-10%.
So, what is insomnia and when should it be called clinically significant?
Here we will examine the causes and best treatment options.
Persistent problems falling asleep, maintaining sleep or poor quality of sleep for at least 3 days a week for one month is considered clinically significant insomnia. It is most commonly a symptom rather than a disease itself. It may be due to any specific underlying diseases or without any identifiable causes.
If insomnia is temporary, it is termed as acute insomnia.
When it’s persistent and mostly due a specific cause it is known as chronic insomnia.
It may also be classified as primary or secondary depending on the causes.
Your insomnia may be a result of wide range of factors. Here are some probable causes:
Causes of Primary insomnia:
Secondary or comorbid causes of insomnia
Several drugs may cause insomnia. As an example, antidepressants (MAOIs, SSRIs, venlafaxine or reboxetine); anti-Parkinsonian medication; bronchodilators (aminophylline, theophylline or pseudoephedrine); cardiovascular medication (β-blockers, clonidine, high-dose digoxin, verapamil); chemotherapy agents; corticosteroids/anabolic steroids; NSAIDs (high-dose); stimulants (dexamfetamine methylphenidate, amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine); levothyroxine withdrawal/dependency (hypnotics, opiates, alcohol, or cannabis)
You will suffer from various problems if your sleep is affected…
Insomnia is a risk factor for developing depressive, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. Insomnia is associated with motor vehicle accidents, work absenteeism, and reduced quality of life.
There are effective treatments available for insomnia. In the case of secondary insomnia you need to receive treatment for the underlying disease first. For primary insomnia, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments are available. The best treatment for insomnia is non-pharmacological. If still the problem persists, your doctor will advise you some drugs.
There are several pointers you can follow to improve your quality of sleep. Try to follow the advice below.
The aim of CBT is to break the cycle of insomnia. Poor sleep quality leads to stress and makes you anxious about not being able to sleep. This, in turn, causes further tension and anxiety which makes your sleeping habits poorer and can lead to the development of dependency on sleeping pills… Then a worsening of insomnia and so the vicious cycle goes on. Contact a psychiatrist for proper advice regarding CBT.
Establish good sleep habits:
There are different groups of drugs available for insomnia.
This, though, is the last option only if non-drug treatment does not work for you. Contact your doctor and he will assess your conditions to exclude any secondary causes. If any underlying disease is present, it must be treated first.
The drugs available are benzodiazepines like clonazepam, diazepam, bromazepam as well as non-benzodiazepines like zolpidem, zopiclone or zopeplon. The drug most suitable for you will be selected by your doctor.
To conclude, insomnia may be a tiresome experience but it’s not incurable. If not properly treated, it may affect your daily life severely. Don’t panic as it will just worsen the problem.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible to choose the best treatment for your insomnia and lead a happy life.