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What is Insomnia? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Insomnia

Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Insomnia

What is Insomnia?

Many people who have difficulty sleeping, tend to assume that they have insomnia. However, insomnia is an actual medical sleep condition. In this article, the 7HourSleep Clinic team will explain what insomnia is, including what causes it. We will talk about symptoms of insomnia, and discuss the treatments and remedies that might benefit you if you suffer from insomnia.

Millions of people around the world suffer from insomnia. Although it's a complex condition, it can be simplified as a sleep disruption that causes difficulty falling and staying asleep. They don't wake up feeling refreshed. Insomnia can have devastating effects on a sufferer's health and mental health, as it may lead to lethargy, daytime sleepiness, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, difficulty focusing on and completing work or school-related tasks.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), approximately thirty percent of all adults report experiencing insomnia symptoms. About 6-10% of all adults experience symptoms that are severe enough to warrant an insomnia diagnosis.

A clinical diagnosis of insomnia is made in cases where patients meet both of the following criteria:

  • sleep difficulties are causing functional difficulties in the patient's life;
  • sleep difficulties occur at least three nights a week, and have been doing so for at least three months.

Other sleep disorders that may co-occur or aggravate insomnia, include:

  • Sleep Breathing Disorders
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
  • Shift Work Disorder
  • and Jet Lag


Insomnia Treatment


What Causes Insomnia?

The causes of insomnia differ from person to person. In many cases, short-term insomnia is caused by stress. However, experiencing a traumatic event can also lead to insomnia, as can changes to sleeping habits.

Sleep difficulties that last for three months or more are usually diagnosed as chronic insomnia, and is usually secondary to another issue, or could be caused by a combination of problems, such as:

  • substance use (over the counter pain relief, diuretics, slimming pills, blood pressure treatment, contraceptives, thyroid hormones, corticosteroids, ADHD stimulants, antidepressants)
  • psychological issues such as stress, anxiety
  • or medical conditions or illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, Parkinson's disease, allergies, asthma, kidney disease and acid reflux that make it difficult to sleep.

Chronic insomnia can be detrimental to your health. However, it is a common sleep complaint with no single cause. Many experts, including those at 7HourSleep Clinic consider insomnia a symptom of a different problem.

Read more about causes of chronic and acute insomnia.


Insomnia Symptoms

Insomnia can take different forms, with the main symptoms being difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, no matter how tired you are. However, depending on the cause of the insomnia, you may also experience the following symptoms:

  • relying on substances to help you sleep
  • frequent waking during the night
  • unrefreshing sleep
  • difficulty falling asleep after waking during the night
  • waking up too early in the morning
  • drowsiness, fatigue or irritability during the day
  • difficulty focusing during the day.

Sometimes, your daytime fatigue may drive you to indulge in too much caffeine, taking naps, or being too tired to exercise. Unfortunately, those are the very behaviours that fuel insomnia.

Read more symptoms of chronic or acute insomnia.


Insomnia Treatments & Remedies

The cause of your insomnia will determine the available treatment options. A sleep expert from 7HourSleep Clinic will help you determine a suitable treatment plan based on your specific insomnia causes.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is recommended as the starting point for treatment of adults suffering from chronic insomnia, according to the American College of Physicians (ACP).

If you are suffering from an underlying medical or psychological condition that contributes to your insomnia, that should be addressed first in order to alleviate your sleeping difficulties.

Potential insomnia treatments and remedies might include behavioural changes and sleep hygiene training, which might reduce disruptive behaviours. An expert from 7HourSleep Clinic will help you devise a specific 7HourSleep Treatment Plan to help you drift off to dreamland.

Some of the most common recommended insomnia treatments and remedies include:

  • avoiding daytime naps
  • avoiding a night cap
  • avoiding eating a large meal close to bedtime
  • reducing the amount of liquids you consume before bed time
  • avoiding sugar and caffeine before you go to bed
  • avoiding TV, computers, and phone screens before you go to sleep
  • creating a peaceful, sleep-inducing environment
  • sticking to a regular sleep schedule
  • avoiding stressful situations or stimulating activity before bedtimes
  • learning to associate your bedroom only with sleeping and sex
  • moving your clock out of view
  • dealing with the fears, thoughts and worries that fuel insomnia
  • getting out of bed when you're unable to sleep
  • practicing relaxing bedtime yoga stretches an hour before you go to sleep
  • investing in physical therapy / chiropractic care to deal with physical pains that keep you awake
  • Using supplements that help you sleep better

Note that over-the-counter sleep aids can have potentially harmful long-term side effects and serious drug interactions. It is best to consult with a sleep expert at 7HourSleep Clinic who can provide you with safe and proven effective insomnia relief using our 7HourSleep Treatment plan.

More information on the treatment and possible remedies for insomnia.


Disclaimer: The information on this website is for education purposes only and intended to answer some of the frequently encountered questions about the meaning of 'Sleep' and 'Fatigue'. If you have any questions regarding the information contained on the website or in the brochures please consult with your healthcare practitioner.