Sunday, October 22, 2017

Insomnia Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Category: Insomnia

You brush your teeth, turn out the lights, snuggle with your honey for a sweet moment, then kiss good night. Your spouse falls asleep immediately. Meanwhile, you lie awake, tossing and turning as the minutes, the hours tick by. It’s the nightly battle to slip into what Shakespeare called “innocent sleep…the balm of hurt minds…chief nourisher in life’s feast.”

Or perhaps you fall asleep easily, but wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep. Or maybe you wake up and fall asleep several times each night, but rarely get one long, uninterrupted stretch of restful, refreshing sleep. All these problems are insomnia.

“People think that insomnia just means trouble falling asleep,” says Peter Hauri, Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Insomnia Program in Rochester, Minnesota, and co-author (with Shirley Linde, Ph.D.) of No More Sleepless Nights. “Actually, it’s any problem with falling or staying asleep.”

Insomnia Overview

More than 100 million Americans experience occasional insomnia. That is why at 2 a.m., some 20 million are watching television, according to the A.C. Neilsen Company, which tracks TV viewing. An estimated 30 to 60 million Americans—mostly women—suffer chronic sleeplessness, and 10 million consult doctors for the problem. Half of the nation’s adults have taken sleep medication at some point in life, and millions use sleeping pills frequently.

Insomnia’s costs extend beyond the bedroom. Compared with normal sleepers, insomniacs are less productive at work, have twice as many auto accidents, and also report generally poorer health because sleep is critical to immune function. No wonder that in the Bible, insomnia was one of the trials of Job.

“Insomnia is so common,” says William Dement, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, director of the Stanford Sleep Disorder Clinic, and chair of the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR), “that it’s accepted—mistakenly—as a normal part of growing older.”

Insomnia can have many of causes, Dr. Hauri explains:

  • Drugs. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Alcohol disrupts sleep. Many other over-the-counter and prescription drugs do the same.
  • Smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant.
  • Poor diet, or sleep-disturbing dining habits. High-fat foods are hard to digest and may disrupt sleep. Eating too late at night can do the same.
  • Lack of exercise. Exercise gets you tired and helps you fall asleep. A sedentary lifestyle does not.
  • Your bedroom environment. Light, noise, and a small, uncomfortable bed can all keep you awake.
  • Poor sleep habits. If you go to bed at different times every night, and wake up at different times each morning, your body’s natural sleep-wake rhythm can become disrupted enough to cause insomnia.
  • Stress. If you’re tense, anxious, or worried, sleep suffers.
  • Illness. Illnesses that restricut breathing (colds, flu, allergies), and conditions that cause pain (arthritis, injuries) often disturb sleep.

But if you suffer what the poet, John Keats called “unwilling sleep,” there’s hope. Sleep specialists typically help about 80 percent of even chronic insomniacs fairly quickly with a program that combines home remedies, mainstream medicine, and complementary therapies.

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