Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which the person suffering from the condition has trouble falling asleep. Insomnia can vary in severity, it may come in episodes or affect a person for a short phase of about 3 weeks. It can also be chronic and long lasting and have extremely adverse effects.

There is a wide spectrum of issues that can cause insomnia. A person can also have difficulty in getting a sound sleep during the night due to various medical conditions such as thyroid, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder etc. Other factors that affect a sound sleep include poor sleeping patterns and lifestyle issues like:

  • Stress, anxiety and depression
  • Heavy smoking
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Caffeine intake, late at night
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Watching television or indulging in your smart phone till late night
  • Disturbance due to bright lights and noise when you sleep
  • Discomfort and physical pain

Insomnia can have an adverse effect on your day to day functioning and it can decrease productivity and efficiency throughout the day. Various symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty in sleeping during the night
  • Waking up many times during the night
  • Feeling tired and sleepy in the morning
  • Poor concentration and lack of focus during the day
  • Lack of clarity in thoughts and indecisiveness

A person suffering from insomnia remains in a foul mood and shows no interest in social interactions. In such a scenario resorting to alcohol and stressing about the lack of sleep can worsen the condition and also lead to chronic insomnia.

Identifying insomnia and seeking medical help:
Different people have different sleep needs, while some people can do well with a 8 hour sleep others might need a 10 hour sleep to keep up with the day’s grind and maintain efficiency. Sometimes, worrying about insomnia or trying hard to catch up on sleep can also make the condition worse. If you feel that you are suffering from insomnia, stop stressing about it. If it persists for more than three weeks immediately seek medical help, as it may be due to an underlying illness and can also aggravate if neglected.
Usually, the doctor will ask questions about any medical history, ongoing medications and the symptoms to identify insomnia and the reason of its cause. Polysomnography can also be conducted to rule out the possibility or other sleep related disorders such as sleep apnea.

Insomnia can be efficiently treated by identifying the underlying cause and treating it. Making healthy changes in your sleeping patterns and certain lifestyle changes can help a great deal. A head massage with warm oil or a warm bath before bedtime can induce sleep.

Visit a psychiatrist if you think your insomnia is related to anxiety or stress related disorders. A psychiatrist may prescribe anti depressants or other medications that relieve you of anxiety and depression, thus helping you get a sound sleep. Cognitive behavioural therapies can also help curb anxiety and stress disorders that cause insomnia. Yoga and meditation can be of immense help to counter stress, depression and anxiety, and thus get rid of insomnia.

Sleeping pills can also induce sleep, however, prolonged use can cause adverse effects. Antihistamines present in the sleeping pills can cause memory loss over the time, especially in the elderly patients. Taking sleeping pills regularly can also make the patient immune towards this medication and after a certain time they stop inducing sleep and insomnia can become even more complex.

By the age of 60 years, around 60% of men and 40% of women start snoring