Insomnia – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Friday, April 27, 2018 by

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. People who suffer from insomnia may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.

Patients with this sleep disorder rarely get enough rest at night or they may have poor-quality sleep.

There are three types of insomnia:

  • Transient insomnia — Usually occurs for at least three nights.
  • Acute insomnia — This kind of insomnia is common. Acute insomnia may be caused by family pressures, a traumatic event, or work-related stress. It may last for several days or weeks.
  • Chronic insomnia — This ongoing form of the disorder may last for a month or even longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, meaning it is often the side effect of other problems like certain medical conditions, medication, or other sleep disorders. Substances like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco may also cause chronic insomnia.

Known side effects of insomnia

The side effects of insomnia usually include:

  • Anxiety, depression, or irritability.
  • Being uncoordinated, which may increase accidents or errors.
  • Difficulty socializing.
  • A feeling of fatigue or sleepiness even in the daytime.
  • Feeling tired even after a night’s sleep.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Having trouble falling asleep at night.
  • Poor concentration and focus.
  • Tension headaches which often feel like a person has a tight band around their head.
  • Waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Waking up earlier than desired.
  • Worrying about sleeping.

Sleep deprivation may cause other symptoms. A patient often wakes up feeling tired, and they may also feel sleepy throughout the day.

Risk factors for insomnia may include:

  • Age — Adolescents/young adult students or the elderly.
  • Frequently traveling through multiple time zones.
  • Having a shift schedule that frequently changes (e.g. day vs. night)
  • Illegal drug use
  • Individuals with mental health disorders
  • Menopausal women
  • Pregnant women

Body systems harmed by insomnia

Chronic insomnia may increase an individual’s risk for mental health problems and overall health concerns.

Increased risk for medical conditions like:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Stroke
  • Weak immune system

Increased risk for mental health disorders like:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion and frustration
  • Depression

Increased risk for accidents like

  • Judgment (e.g. car accidents)
  • Memory
  • Performance at work or school

Shortened life expectancy: Insomnia can shorten an individual’s life expectancy. People with persistent insomnia had a 97 percent increased risk of death.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent insomnia

The following foods or nutrients can help prevent insomnia:

  • Almonds — Almonds contain magnesium, a mineral that can help you get quality sleep.
  • Chamomile tea — Chamomile tea can help soothe stress and make it easier to fall asleep. The tea can help increase your glycine levels, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles. Glycine also acts as a mild sedative.
  • Honey — Honey contains natural sugars that slightly raise insulin and lets tryptophan enter the brain more easily. Tryptophan is an amino acid that has sleep-enhancing properties and it helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that is crucial to the sleep-wake cycles.
  • Kale — Like other green leafy vegetables, kale is rich in calcium that helps the brain use tryptophan and manufacture melatonin. Other sources include spinach and mustard greens.
  •  Walnuts — Walnuts has tryptophan. It also contains its own source of melatonin that can help you fall asleep faster.

Treatments, management plans for insomnia

Some types of insomnia are resolved when the underlying cause is treated or wears off. Most of the treatment for the disorder aims to determine the cause before it can be properly treated or corrected.

Aside from treating the underlying cause of insomnia, both medical and non-pharmacological (behavioral) treatments can be used as therapies.

Non-pharmacological approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) via one-on-one counseling sessions or group therapy.

Medical treatments for insomnia include

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Melatonin
  • Prescription sleeping pills
  • Ramelteon
  • Sleep aids available online or over-the-counter

Home remedies for insomnia include:

  • Improving “sleep hygiene” — This includes sleeping enough hours at night, regular exercise, following a regular sleep schedule, and sleeping in a comfortable room.
  • Relaxation techniques — May include meditation and muscle relaxation.
  • Sleep restriction — May involve hours slept or spent in bed and partially depriving the body of sleep to increase tiredness so the patient can prepare for the next night.
  • Stimulus control therapy — Includes going to bed when sleepy, avoiding stimulus before bedtime (eating, reading, watching TV, etc.), and setting an alarm for the same time every morning.

Where to learn more

Summary

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. People who suffer from insomnia may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.

The three types of insomnia include transient insomnia, acute insomnia, and chronic insomnia.

The side effects of insomnia usually include being uncoordinated, difficulty socializing, a feeling of fatigue or sleepiness even in the daytime, and feeling tired even after a night’s sleep.

Chronic insomnia may increase an individual’s risk for mental health problems and overall health concerns.

Almonds, chamomile tea, honey, kale, and walnuts can help prevent insomnia.

Some types of insomnia are resolved when the underlying cause is treated or wears off. Most of the treatment for the disorder aims to determine the cause before it can be properly treated or corrected.

Aside from treating the underlying cause of insomnia, both medical and non-pharmacological (behavioral) treatments can be used as therapies.

Sources include:

MedlinePlus.gov

MedicalNewsToday.com

Healthline.com

RD.com



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