Insomnia: Causes, Types, Treatment, Change in Social Behavior

Introduction

Insomnia is not a disease or a diagnosis; it is just a symptom. This is a condition whereby one finds it difficult to fall asleep or gets inadequate sleep. We cannot define insomnia in terms of the number of hours that one sleeps because all of us are different and fall asleep at different times. They are those who are contented with a few hours of sleep while others have to sleep for quite a long time for them to feel contended. Insomnia is therefore the failure to get enough sleep in terms of quality and quantity. Even though most people are aware of insomnia and how it affects them in their daily activities, few if any, seek for medical help. Most people believe that it is a temporal problem and that it will fade with time. There are three types of insomnia which are based on the extent of the problem. The first type of insomnia is called transient whose symptoms do not last for more than a week. We have short-term insomnia with symptoms lasting for 1 to 3 weeks and the last type is called chronic insomnia with severe symptoms lasting for more than three weeks (Anon. “Insomnia” 2).

Insomnia is common in all age groups and in both genders. However, these symptoms are more in women (especially pregnant women) than in men and tend to accelerate with age. Statistics show that pregnant women are the most vulnerable to insomnia symptoms. It affects more than 75% of pregnant women. Around 30-50% adults experiences insomnia at certain times in their life. Drug addicts, mentally ill patients, and people living in low income groups are vulnerable to insomnia. Transient or short-term insomnia is mainly caused by stress and if this is not addressed, it extends to chronic insomnia. In this paper I will look at the major causes of insomnia, the common types, changes in social behavior and its treatment.

Causes of insomnia

One of the major causes of insomnia is stress. Everyone goes through a period of a stressful situation in certain times of life. Stress can be caused by loss of employment, family break-ups, failure in exams, and death of loved ones among others. Most people do not know how to handle stress or what to do in such situations and as a result they develop short-term insomnia. This is the beginning of the symptoms of insomnia and if it is not addressed at this stage the situation may become serious. Another cause of insomnia is unpleasant temperature; this can be either very hot or very cold temperatures (Swierzewski 4). If a person is exposed to a room temperature which he is not comfortable with, he may develop insomnia. This can also be caused by change of residence where one moves from areas with moderate temperatures to very hot or cold areas. The body takes time to adjust and this result in sleepless nights. Insomnia is also caused by changes in occupation or shift in work place, medication, drug addiction or withdrawal, use of stimulants among others.

Types of insomnia

Insomnia occurs in different degrees and can be classified into three major type that is the transient insomnia, acute and chronics. Transient insomnia lasts for less than seven days. It usually results from alteration in sleeping time, alterations in sleeping atmosphere, anxiety or hopelessness. The effects of transient insomnia are drowsiness and lack of concentration. On the other hand acute insomnia lasts for less than thirty days and has similar causes and consequences as transient insomnia. Chronic insomnia can last for over thirty days and it’s in a more cruel form than the other two. It can be a major disorder by itself or can be the result of a different disorder. The consequences of chronic insomnia are physical and mental fatigue and hallucinations. It is believed that people suffering from chronic insomnia are more alert than people under normal condition although they see things happening in a slow motion.

Change in Social behavior

Insomnia is characterized with depression. Most of the people suffering from insomnia lack self esteems and as result they become depressed. Depression is a serious case which can have adverse effects if not treated early (Matson 42). The patients lack the desire to do some of the enjoyable things they used to and their moods can also be affected. Sleep is very important to every body. It provides the relaxation that one would be eagerly looking forward to after a hard day. If this is not achieved (normally due to insomnia) the affected person’s self esteem becomes low which may lower his/her productivity. Most people suffering from insomnia do not recognize it at the early stages and they usually blame their lack of concentration on other people. They feel neglected and may tend to isolate themselves from their colleagues or friends. However, if the symptoms of insomnia are recognized early then depression can be avoided.

Treatment of insomnia

In most cases, insomnia is caused by other diagnosis or results from other medication. It can also be due to psychological problems. Before commencing treatment on insomnia, it is important to first distinguish the cause, that is it a psychological or a medical problem? The first strategy in any insomnia treatment is to apply sleep hygiene before trying nay medical treatment. Non medical strategies have been proved to be the most effective in treating insomnia as opposed to the pharmacological strategies. An example of such a treatment is hypnotic induction. Hypnosis is a way of trying to access the patient’s subconscious mind. This subconscious mind works together with the conscious mind. It tells the conscious mind what to do and how to solve problems. The subconscious mind is the real brain that does most of the thinking, and when the conscious mind awake, it starts evaluating these thought and searches for solution (Kroger & Yapko 307). Other non-pharmacological strategies include use of natural therapies such as massage, taking warm showers, or listening to cool music, sleeping hygiene, and education to patients and offering them relaxation therapy (Lee-Chiong, Sataia & Carskadon 169). This method is not recommended for long term use; if it fails to work in the short run, pharmacological strategies can be put into use. Some of the medication that is normally used by many insomniacs is the sleeping tablets. Research shows that more than 95% of insomnia patients get medical prescription from the doctors.

Conclusion

Insomnia is a condition of lack of sleep or inadequate sleep. Inadequate sleep in this context refers to having difficulties in falling asleep, frequently waking up in one night. It is not a serious problem but should be given some attention. Insomnia is caused by stress, depression, employment problems, anxiety, and family break-ups, among others. It affects all people regardless of gender or age. However, it is more common among the old especially women. Statistics shows that nearly ¾ of all women experience insomnia. Insomnia occurs in different degrees and can be classified into three major types. The first type of insomnia is called transient whose symptoms do not last for more than a week. Then we have short term insomnia and chromic insomnia. Most of the people suffering from insomnia lack self esteem and as result they become depressed. Depression is a serious case which can have adverse effects if not treated early. The patients lack the desire to do some of the enjoyable things they used to and their moods can also be affected. Sleep is very important to every body. It provides the relaxation that one would be eagerly looking forward to after a hard day. Hypnosis is a way of the methods that have been proved to work perfectly in treating insomnia. It is a way of trying to access the patient’s subconscious mind. This subconscious mind works together with the conscious mind. It tells the conscious mind what to do and how to solve problems. The subconscious mind is the real brain that does most of the thinking, and when the conscious mind awake, it starts evaluating these thought and searches for solution. Other therapies include messages, warm birth, sleeping hygiene and relaxation.

References

Anon. “Insomnia.” emedicinehealth.com, 2010. Web.

Kroger William S. & Yapko Michael D. “Clinical and experimental hypnosis in medicine, dentistry, and psychology”. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007

Lee-Chiong Teofilo, Sataia Michael & Carskadon Mary A. “Sleep medicine” Hanley & Belfus Elsevier Health Sciences, 2002

Matson, Johnny L. “Social Behavior and Skills in Children” Springer, 2010

Swierzewski, Stanley J. “Insomnia Causes.” healthcommunication.com, 2007. Web.