What is Insomnia?

Simple answers to any question can be the least satisfying. When we sleep, we are resting. Sleeping is the time we are not awake. But these answer are actually helpful because we know that lack of sleep can be dangerous (interrogators have routinely used sleep deprivation – in extreme cases, as torture).

There is a natural cycle between Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep, changing roughly every one-and-a-half hours so that about three-quarters of all our sleep as adults is without REM. While we sleep, we physically repair ourselves and do mental housekeeping so, if our sleep is disturbed, we suffer physically and our mental performance may be impaired. In strict terms, insomnia is neither illness nor disease, but a collection of symptoms falling into the categories of:

  • transient or temporary disruption to the sleep cycle brought on by a stressful event or a change of sleeping arrangements – once you adjust to the new circumstances, sleep returns;
  • intermittent or short-term where a possible pattern of disruption begins to emerge; and
  • chronic where your sleep is consistently affected over longer periods of time.

Who is affected by insomnia?

In children, the problem of ADHD is becoming more widely recognised and problems in sleeping seem to be associated with it.

As children become teenagers, the overactivity can continue and there is research to determine whether Ambien in association with the ADHD drugs can manage the resulting problems.

As young adults, shift work, travelling or lifestyle choices may disrupt our body clocks and circadian rhythms. This breaks our natural habit patterns. Unfortunately, there are no drugs on the market that can reset our internal clocks.

It is a myth that “older” people are more likely to have difficulty sleeping. They are more likely to develop aches and pains, illnesses and diseases to disrupt their sleep. If they get treatment to relieve the other problems, sleep returns to normal.

What treatments exist?

pexels-photo-271897.jpegAlongside¬†Ambien¬†for intermittent or chronic insomnia, you should consider cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which helps you to learn new sleeping habits. You have to “relearn” the association between going to bed and falling sleep. There are also general relaxation techniques and a number of specific approaches to help you get to sleep. You should:

  • develop a sleep routine in a “sleep friendly” environment, e.g. heavy curtains to keep out the light and reduce noise;
  • aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day;
  • begin to exercise more – you will sleep better if you are physically tired;
  • avoid eating (indigestion may disturb you) or drinking a lot of liquid (your bladder may wake you) just before going to bed;
  • avoid mental stimulation – the idea is to be in a relaxed frame of mind; and
  • avoid sleep during the day.

If you can teach your body to work to a new set of rhythms, even on weekends, this will build up and reinforce the sleep habit.

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