Good sleep improves your brain performance, mood and health. Sleep is a time for the brain to perform repair processes affecting almost every tissue and system in the body from the brain, heart, lungs, metabolism, immune function, mood and disease resistance. Healthy sleep is combination of how much you sleep, how much your sleep is uninterrupted and refreshing and how consistent your sleep schedule is. Not getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, obesity and dementia.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, not sleeping enough or not sleeping well despite having an adequate opportunity to sleep. This leads to impaired daytime functioning, such as fatigue, mood disturbances, slowed thinking and decreased concentration. Other symptoms include delayed reflexes, trouble remembering things, disruptions in routine at work and in social situations.
Types of insomnia:
- Acute Insomnia: Also known as short-term insomnia, typically lasts for days to weeks. It can be triggered by life stresses, such as receiving bad news, impending events, or environmental factors like noise or light.
- Chronic Insomnia: It lasts for at least three months, occurs at least three nights a week and is not due to medications or sleep disorders, or circumstances that interfere with the ability to sleep. Chronic insomnia is called Insomnia Disorder.
- Secondary Insomnia: Results from another underlying health condition, medication, or substance use. Conditions such as asthma, depression, arthritis, heartburn, or pain, and medications for allergies, colds, high blood pressure, and depression can cause secondary insomnia.
Factors that can predispose an individual to insomnia, include:
- Genetics: Sleep traits and conditions including insomnia seem to run in families.
- Gender: Women are more likely than men to experience insomnia, partly due to hormonal fluctuations.
- Mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
- Temporary and chronic medical conditions such as pain and sleep apnea.
- Life circumstances that create high levels of stress.
- Frequent changes in work shifts or working the night shift.
- Using alcohol.
- Fear of violence or abuse.
- Fear or anxiety about sleep.
- Restless leg syndrome.
Insomnia is primarily diagnosed based on a thorough medical and sleep history. A physical examination might be done to identify potential underlying conditions. In certain cases, a sleep study or polysomnography might be recommended, especially if sleep apnea is suspected.
Treatment modalities are diverse and tailored based on the cause and type of insomnia. Approaches include:
- Behavioral Therapies: Techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy can address the causes of insomnia and provide coping strategies.
- Sleep Hygiene: This involves cultivating habits conducive to sleep, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding caffeine close to bedtime.
- Medications: Several prescription medications are available to treat insomnia. Over-the-counter sleep aids such as melatonin can help at low strengths. However if you have chronic insomnia, it is vital that you contact your mental health professional. Chronic insomnia lasts three months or more and occurs at least three nights a week.
- Alternative therapies: Methods like acupuncture, meditation, and relaxation exercises can sometimes be beneficial.
Insomnia, though common, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and increase the risk of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, sleep apnea, type 2
diabetes, obesity and more. Recognizing its symptoms and seeking appropriate medical advice is crucial for effective management and restoration of healthy sleep patterns.
Contact Mercie Health and Wellness to schedule a consultation to learn more. At Mercie Health and Wellness in Katy, Tx, we offer a holistic understanding and approach, combining medical, psychological, and social modalities, to treat chronic insomnia. You will always be treated with respect and dignity at Mercie Health.
At a Glance
Dr. Sylvia Udokoro Nwakanma
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Double Board Certified in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-C)
- SAMSHA Certified Addictions Nurse Practitioner
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