What is insomnia? It could be easily described as a fear of night. Lying awake, waiting for that fearful morning, waiting for the dawn to end the night…
It is the most common sleep disorder. In USA, almost 30% of population have all sorts of sleeping problems, and almost 15% have chronic insomnia. For some reason, it strikes women more than men, but also, it is a common companion of many psychiatric disorders and other chronic conditions.
What can we do? The first step is to find a therapist, or a mental health professional in our neighborhood. Sometimes, a good masseuse, chiropractor or acupuncturists can also help. One interesting thing about insomnia, check your teeth! Sometimes, it can be caused by small, almost unnoticeable pain in your teeth or gums.
Insomnia does not come from the thin air. It is usually caused by fatigue, negative mood, problems with work, decreased quality of life, increased irritability, mood disturbance, decreased functioning and increased risk of depression. Insomniacs are not efficient at work, they have career problems and due to their constant sleeplessness, they separate themselves from the society, friends and family.
Insomnia is a disorder of arousal. It can be a symptom of a much bigger problem, but also can be a problem itself. Disorder of arousal that lasts for one month or longer and results in significant distress or impairment, is called primary insomnia, unlike co-morbid insomnia, the one associated with other difficulties such as poor sleep habits, medications, medical problems or psychiatric conditions.
A state of hyper arousal and increased metabolic rate and elevated high-frequency EEG activity causes primary insomnia, and it sometimes can be diagnosed in early childhood. Is there a treatment? Naturally, almost everything can be treated, but not every sick person can be healed. It is so simple, decrease arousal and indicate as much of natural sleep as possible. Or, in cases of co-morbid insomnia, when primary condition is eliminated, insomnia goes away with it.
For understanding insomnia, there is the three factor model proposed by Spielman. This model analyzes predisponing, precipitating and perpetuating factors, and the treatment consists of eliminating the perpetuating factor which keep the insomnia going even if the initial stress has resolved.
Insomniacs tend to loose the sense of time. They believe their awake hours last for much longer than they really do, and they also believe they do not sleep enough, no matter how many hours they sleep. Sometimes, they are in a very light state of sleep, and believe they are awake.
Treating insomniacs is difficult. Medications and cognitive behavior therapy can be combined, but, there is no real cure for it. Sometimes, self help approach can help. Usually, a physician will recommend a few good books, slow evening, a cup of tea and relaxation. But, if a sleeping disorder lasts for a month or longer, one should consider seeing a therapist. If treated on time, insomnia can be beaten. If not, it can became the worst nightmare you can imagine.