Insomnia can occur for many reasons, including as a symptom of drug withdrawal. It is often cited as a cause for substance abuse in individuals who rely on the effects of benzodiazepines, alcohol or other drugs with sedative effects. Insomnia is thought to be predominantly caused by overactivity in some areas of the brain that doesn’t allow the sufferer to calm down and get into a state conducive to falling asleep.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is defined as a habitual inability to sleep. For some people, it is the difficulty of actually getting to sleep, while for others, it is characterised by an inability to stay asleep. People who suffer from insomnia frequently find that they do not feel refreshed in the morning and feel unrested during the day. It is thought to impact as many as one in three people in the United Kingdom. Occasional episodes of insomnia may come and go for some people, or the condition can be chronic.
A normal amount of sleep is considered to be between seven and nine hours per night in a healthy adult. Children and babies may require longer periods of rest, while older people may need less
Types of Insomnia
- Acute Insomnia: This type of insomnia is often brief and occurs as a result of life events such as trauma caused by stress, grief or anxiety. Many people experience the occasional disruption of their sleep, but it often passes without the need for treatment.
- Chronic Insomnia: Chronic insomnia is when a person has disrupted sleep for at least three nights every week for a period of more than three months. Some form of treatment can be useful in people who suffer from this form of insomnia. Chronic insomnia is often comorbid, which means it occurs concurrently with another condition such as a mental health issue or as a side effect of medication.
- Onset Insomnia: This is when a person has trouble falling asleep.
- Maintenance Insomnia: This is when a person has difficulty staying asleep or wakes up before they are rested in the morning.
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Causes of Insomnia
Stress: All sorts of hormones and neurotransmitters are released when a person feels stressed. This can lead to the type of imbalance that causes insomnia. Traumatic life events such as the loss of a loved one, divorce or a job loss are leading causes of insomnia.
Work Schedule: A person’s circadian rhythm works like an internal clock that guides the sleep-wake cycle. If this is always being disrupted, the body no longer produces the neurotransmitters that cause a person to fall asleep at regular times.
Mental Health Disorders: Anxiety disorders, in particular, can cause chronic sleeplessness. Medications: Many prescription medications can cause disturbances in sleep, including antidepressants or medications for conditions such as asthma. Painkillers, decongestants and weight-loss products can also cause insomnia. Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine: These commonly consumed substances can be leading causes of sleepless nights.
Symptoms of Insomnia
- Trouble falling asleep at night
- Constantly waking during the night
- Waking up early
- Irritability, anxiety or depression
- Tiredness during the day
- Trouble paying attention
- Constant worrying about sleep
- An increase in errors or accidents
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