You don’t realize how important sleep is until it’s out of reach. Insomnia is a condition described by a continuous difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or receiving good quality sleep. Insomnia is a literally exhausting condition, where the individual has an ongoing unstable relationship with sleeping. It is normal for people to struggle with sleeping from time to time. An individual is diagnosed with insomnia when they cannot sleep despite perfect conditions for sleeping, and such difficulty sleeping interferes with their daily life. And these symptoms must continue for an extended amount of time. The lack of sleep must be impairing the individual’s waking hours in order to yield a diagnosis.
People may experience periodic difficulty with sleeping when life gets stressful, after a significant life event, or during emotionally turbulent times. Sleep difficulty that lasts less than three months is known as short-term insomnia. When symptoms of insomnia occur at a minimum of three times a week for longer than three months, chronic insomnia may be diagnosed. There are two different types of sleep insomnia diagnoses that represent different difficulties. Sleep-onset insomnia is when an individual has difficulty falling asleep, and it may have to do with jet lag, sporadic work schedules, or problems relaxing. Sleep maintenance insomnia is when the individual has a hard time staying asleep after initially falling asleep. Of course, it is possible that someone may have a mix of the two as well.
There are many possible causes of insomnia. It is best to work closely with a professional to determine the cause of insomnia. However, there are some common causes to consider, most of which cause a state of hyperarousal that make sleep challenging. An over-excited mind, body, or both, can make sleep inaccessible. Use of substances, like alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and other drugs can absolutely trigger insomnia; medication may also create undesirable sleep effects. Health problems can be a natural cause of insomnia. If pain or discomfort is present in the body, sleep can be regularly interrupted to create insomnia. Lastly, mental illness often has much to do with insomnia. Stress, anxiety, and depression can be insomnia-triggering conditions.
Insomnia is highly related to an individual's lifestyle and relative habits. Insomnia is commonly linked with negative lifestyle habits which impair the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or receive high quality sleep. Bad habits like excessive napping during the day, screen exposure prior to bedtime, and irregular sleep times can all lead to insomnia. Many of our bad sleep habits are formed at a young age, and can therefore be difficult to break during adulthood. But it is helpful to assess habits when insomnia is present.
Untreated insomnia has many effects on quality of life, as anyone who has ever experienced sleep deprivation can attest to. General fatigue and exhaustion are characteristic of insomnia, as well as memory trouble, difficulty concentrating, irregular moods, irritability, hyperactivity, and aggression. Naturally the symptoms get worse the longer a person experiences insomnia. Shockingly, studies show that anywhere from 10-30% of adults experience chronic insomnia. Luckily, insomnia can be treated. Therapy can help identify the behaviors and habits that create insomnia, and then address those causes for treatment.