According to a Canadian health report, 13% of Canadians aged 15 years and older suffer from chronic insomnia. This study shows that 25% of adults are dissatisfied with their sleep, 10-15% have insomnia symptoms associated with daytime consequences. It also indicates that 36,5% of insomniacs don’t feel rested in the morning. Note that people who suffer from insomnia sleep on average 1 hour less than non-insomniacs.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia name comes from the Latin Somnus, meaning sleep. Insomnia belongs to the sleep disorders family. Circadian rhythm disorders, narcolepsy and hypersomnia are also sleeping disorder conditions.
The main symptom of insomnia is the difficulty to sleep sufficiently. Insomnia occurs when daytime activities are disrupted by the consequences of sleep deprivation (drowsiness, irritability, headaches, trouble concentrating, etc.).
It is true to say that some people can sleep only a few hours a night without suffering insomnia. They are not considered insomniacs.
Insomnia is not a disease but a symptom.
By tackling the underlying cause of insomnia, most people recover a good quality sleep. Experiencing a few sleepless nights isn’t lethal, however, chronic sleep deprivation can become very harmful.
Symptoms of insomnia
There are several symptoms for diagnosing insomnia. Some symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Several sleep arousals during the night
- Premature awakening
- Irritability, concentration problems
- Decreased attention span
There are 2 types of insomnia:
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep that is not related to health or other problems.
Secondary insomnia: An individual has sleep problems that are related to health problems, medication, substances (alcohol, drugs…) and stress.
It can be subdivided into 2 categories:
Caused by a specific event (death, divorce, losing a job etc.). This kind of insomnia may last a couple of weeks.
When insomnia occurs at least 3 times a week for a period of 1 month. It can be related to chronic pain, chronic stress, depression, anxiety etc.
There are several causes of chronic insomnia including:
- insomnia due to poor sleep hygiene
- insomnia related to a mental disorder
- insomnia due to medication
Causes of insomnia
Insomnia is not considered a disease but a symptom. Insomnia can be associates to many causes, including environmental factors directly affecting sleep. These factors including noise, light or exposure to screens before bedtime.
Psychological factors should also be considered. Anxiety and stress have a huge impact on our ability to sleep well. Sometimes insomnia also hides another sleeping disorder.
In addition to lifestyle and environmental factors, your sleep disorder may also be the result of an acute or chronic health problem, which is why it is important to consult a sleep specialist to detect any health concerns.
Some other sleep disorders to consider when experiencing insomnia include the following:
Restless legs syndrome
This sleep disorder is characterized by an unpleasant sensation in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move the legs during a relaxation period.
It is a breathing pause which lasts 10 seconds or more and may happen many times during the night. These breathing pauses can cause conscious or unconscious arousals.
The quality of sleep is diminished and your body will not recover properly. This explains why people are tired when they wake up in the morning. There is a simple online questionnaire to see your risk of having sleep apnea.
The health consequences of insomnia
It is important to treat insomnia as its consequences on your health and daily life can be disturbing, even dangerous for you and your family.
It is important to treat insomnia because the consequences can affect your daily life and may also become dangerous for you and other people around you.
– Fatigue, often seen by intensive drowsiness while awake. This may be dangerous when you are working or driving.
– Increased irritability. Your social life can be tainted by this behavior.
– Memory loss and difficulty concentrating. These consequences will compromise your performance at work and your quality of life.
Insomnia may worsen your symptoms such as headaches, increased body pain, digestive problems, etc.
If insomnia persists despite pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatment, a polysomnography test is sometimes recommended. Discuss this with a Dorma specialist to know more about the medical procedure.
Solutions for insomnia
1. Have good sleep hygiene
Sleep enough to feel rested and then get out of bed.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Don’t try to force yourself to sleep. If you are unable to sleep, get out of bed, do a relaxing activity such as reading a magazine and try again later.
2. Create a quiet environment
The room must be dedicated to sleep. The environment should offer calm and serenity. Create a relaxing atmosphere with low-intensity light and avoid nuisance factors (electronic devices, light, noise…). Bright colours must also be avoided; neutral and warm tones are preferable. Keep your room dark, cool, quiet and free of stressful elements.
3. Relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques help the body and mind relax before going to sleep. You can listen to relaxing music, practice yoga, meditation, etc. All of these activities can help you get a good night’s sleep.
4. Be active
Exercising on a regular basis may help fight insomnia. On the other hand, avoid intense exercise for at least 2 hours before bedtime.
5. Healthy diet
Alcohol consumption and heavy meals in the evening should be avoided. The ideal would be to eat 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Also avoid smoking, especially at night. Take coffee and tea and other foods that contain caffeine only in the morning.
6. Consultation with a specialist
It is important to eliminate additional sleeping disorders, such as restless legs or sleep apnea. Your specialist will be able to help you do this. Then, a psychosleep treatment is often the best solution.
When sleep is disturbed by a problem, it is important to consult a sleep professional in order to obtain the right treatment for you.