Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes a person difficult to fall asleep and causes waking up too early. Not only makes you tired when you wake up, insomnia can affect your mood, health, and overall quality of life. Check out the causes of insomnia, symptoms of insomnia, how to overcome insomnia, and prevention of insomnia in full below.

Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia may be a major problem or it may be related to other conditions. In cases of chronic insomnia, this condition is usually a result of stress, certain events or habits that interfere with sleep.

Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress

Worries about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind active at night, where this condition will make you difficult to sleep. Stressful life trauma such as death, illness, or divorce can be a cause of insomnia.

  • Long Trips and Working Hours

Circadian rhythms act as the body’s internal clock and function to guide the sleep-wake cycle, metabolism, and body temperature. If the body’s circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can be a cause of insomnia. Jet lag due to traveling across several time zones and shift work is a condition that causes insomnia.

  • Bad Sleep Habits

Poor sleep habits such as irregular sleep schedules, naps, stimulating activities before going to sleep, uncomfortable sleeping environment, and using the bed for work.

  • Eat Before Sleep

Consumption of light snacks before bed is basically safe to do. However, if you eat too much it will cause discomfort when you lie down. Many people experience heartburn, acid backflow and food from the stomach to the esophagus, a condition that can make you experience insomnia.

  • Mental Health Disorders

Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder can disturb your sleep. Waking up too early can be a sign of depression. Insomnia itself often occurs with other mental health disorders.

  • Drugs

Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain antidepressants and medications for asthma or blood pressure. Many over-the-counter medications, such as painkillers, allergies and cold medicines, and weight-loss products contain caffeine and other stimulants that can interfere with sleep.

  • Medical conditions

Examples of medical conditions related to insomnia include chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome causes an unpleasant sensation in the legs and a desire to move it, a condition that can prevent you from falling asleep.

  • Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol

Coffee, tea, cola, and other caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Drinking it in the afternoon or at night can prevent you from going to sleep at night. The nicotine in tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. While alcohol can help you fall asleep, it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes waking in the middle of the night.

Type of Insomnia

There are two types of insomnia, namely primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.

  • Primary Insomnia

Primary insomnia means that a person experiences sleep problems that are not directly related to the condition or other health problems.

  • Secondary insomnia

Secondary insomnia means that someone has trouble sleeping because of other things, such as health conditions (asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn), medications that are consumed or the influence of chemicals (such as alcohol).

Acute insomnia and chronic insomnia

Apart from type, insomnia also varies from how long this condition can occur. The condition is short term (acute insomnia) or can last a long time (chronic insomnia).

Acute insomnia can last from one night to several weeks. Whereas insomnia is called chronic when a person suffers from insomnia at least three nights a week for three months or more.

Those who are at risk of contracting insomnia

Every person must have occasionally in his life spent a sleepless night. However, the risk of insomnia is greater for you if:

  • Woman. Hormone shifts during the menstrual cycle and menopause can play a role in insomnia. During menopause, night sweats and hot flashes often disrupt sleep. In addition, insomnia also often occurs in pregnancy.
  • Above 60 years old. Due to changes in sleep patterns and health, insomnia increases with age.
  • Mental health or physical health disorders. Many problems that affect mental or physical health can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Often stressed. Time and stressful events can cause temporary insomnia, and large or long-term stress can cause chronic insomnia.

Symptoms of Insomnia

The symptoms of insomnia itself are symptoms of an underlying medical condition. However, there are many characteristics of insomnia or other insomnia symptoms that you need to know about, such as:

  • Get up earlier than desired.
  • Still feeling tired after sleeping.
  • Fatigue or sleepiness during the day.
  • Easily angry, depressed, or anxious
  • Poor concentration and focus.
  • Headache.
  • Concerns about sleep.

When to see a doctor?

If insomnia makes it difficult for you to do activities during the day, see your doctor to identify the cause of insomnia and how to treat insomnia.

Diagnosis of Insomnia

If you feel you have insomnia, talk to your doctor immediately. Evaluations can include physical examination, medical history, and sleep history. You may be asked to keep a sleep diary for one or two weeks, tracking sleep patterns and how you feel during the day.

Your healthcare provider might also interview your partner about the amount and quality of sleep. In some cases, you may be referred to the Sleep Center for special tests.

The diagnosis of insomnia and the search for causes can include:

  • Physical examination

If the cause of insomnia is unknown, your doctor may conduct a physical examination to look for signs of medical problems that may be related to insomnia. Sometimes, blood tests can be done to check for thyroid problems or other conditions that may be related to insomnia

  • Reviewing Sleep Habits

In addition to asking sleep-related questions, your doctor may ask you to fill out questionnaires to determine sleep-wake patterns and daytime sleepiness. You may also be asked to keep a sleep diary for several weeks.

  • Sleep test

If insomnia cannot be identified or you have other signs of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, you may need to spend the night at the Sleep Center.

At the Sleep Center, sleep tests are conducted to monitor and record various body activities while you sleep, including brain waves, breathing, heart rate, eye movements, and body movements.

Insomnia Treatment

The easiest way to overcome insomnia is to change your bedtime habits and overcome any problems related to insomnia such as stress, medical conditions, or medications.

If these steps don’t work, your doctor can recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medications or both, to help improve relaxation and sleep quality.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Insomnia (CBT-I) can help control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake and is generally recommended as a first-line treatment for people with insomnia. Usually, CBT-I is the same or more effective than sleeping pills.

CBT-I helps you develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviors that make you unable to sleep well. The strategy includes:

  • Stimulus Control Therapy

This method helps eliminate the factors that make your mind sleepless. For example, you might be trained to set a consistent bedtime and wake time and avoid napping, use the bed only to sleep and make love, and leave the bedroom if you can’t sleep in 20 minutes, only come back when you are sleepy.

  • Relaxation Techniques

Progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and breathing exercises are ways to reduce sleep anxiety. Practicing these techniques can help you control your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension, and mood so you can relax.

  • Sleep Restrictions

This therapy reduces the time you spend in bed and avoids sleeping during the day. This method makes you sleep less, which makes you more tired the next night. After sleep improves, your time in bed increases gradually.

  • Keep Conditions Awake

Although this way of dealing with insomnia seems the opposite, in fact this method can be used for therapy. This method aims to reduce anxiety and anxiety about sleep by getting into bed and trying to stay awake rather than hoping to fall asleep.

  • Light Therapy

If you fall asleep too early or wake up too early, you can use light to push the body’s internal clock back to normal. This method can be done by going outside the room to get light outside at night or using a light box. Consult with health professionals regarding this method.

Insomnia Medication

Apart from several ways to overcome insomnia as above, the doctor can also recommend other strategies. Strategies with drugs are useful for developing habits that encourage deep sleep and alertness during the day.

  • Prescription Medication

Prescription sleeping pills can help you sleep. Doctors generally don’t recommend relying on prescription sleeping pills for more than a few weeks, but some drugs are approved for long-term use.

Examples include:

  • Eszopiclone
  • Zaleplon
  • Zolpidem

Prescription sleeping pills can have side effects, such as dizziness during the day and increase the risk of falls. Therefore, before taking these drugs you must consult with a doctor.

  • Over-the-counter Medication

Over-the-counter sleeping pills contain antihistamines which can make you sleepy, but they are not intended for routine use. Talk to your doctor before you take this insomnia drug, because antihistamines can cause side effects such as daytime drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, cognitive decline, and difficulty urinating. Worse conditions may occur in older people.

Prevention of Insomnia

Good sleep habits can help you get a good night’s sleep too. Here are some tips to prevent insomnia:

  • Try to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Try not to take a nap, because a nap can make you less sleepy at night.
  • Avoid using cell phones or other electronic devices before going to sleep. This condition can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the afternoon. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can prevent you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking up at night and disturb sleep quality.
  • Set the exercise time. Try not to exercise before bedtime, because it can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Experts advise not to exercise at least three to four hours before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat heavy food at night. However, a light snack before bedtime can help you sleep.
  • Create a comfortable bedroom atmosphere. Make sure it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold.
  • Try to relax before going to bed, can by reading a book, listening to music, or taking a shower.
  • Avoid using a bed other than to sleep or have sex.
  • If you can’t sleep and don’t feel sleepy, do something that isn’t too stimulating until you feel sleepy.
  • If before bed you are still overshadowed by worries about various things, try to make a list of tasks to be done before going to sleep. This method can help you not focus on worries.

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