Insomnia in adults

Most adults suffer from insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives, but some people has chronic insomnia. Insomnia is a condition where there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or poor quality sleep.

Insomnia can be classified into transient insomnia with symptoms that last less than a week, short-term insomnia where the symptoms can last 1-3 weeks and chronic insomnia with symptoms that last more than three weeks.

Symptoms

  • Disturbance of sleep that can be mild to severe
  • Difficulty in falling asleep or frequently awake at night
  • Difficulty in concentration and focus
  • Impaired motor coordination
    Insomnia

    Disturbance of sleep that can be mild to severe

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Irritability
  • Prone to accidents due to fatigue and sleep-deprived drivers

Causes

  • Changes in shift work
  • Uncontrolled physical symptoms such as fever, pain, breathing problems, cough, diarrhea and nasal congestion can cause insomnia.
  • Jet lag
  • Stressful situation in life such as preparation for an exam, loss of a loved one, divorce and unemployment
  • Insomnia caused by high altitude
  • Excessive or nasty noise
  • Undesirable temperature of the room such as too warm or cold
  • Suffering from severe medical or surgical conditions as well as prolonged hospitalization
  • Withdrawal from drugs, alcohol and stimulant medications

Treatment

  • Be comfortable by avoiding a bed that is too hard or too soft and pillows which are not suitable for sleeping
  • Minimize consumption of alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol can make a person drowsy but cause an unpleasant side effect upon waking up and will have stomachache, headache or a full bladder in the evening. Minimize caffeine at least 2 cups every day.
  • Maintain a normal schedule for sleeping. If there is difficulty in sleeping at night, wake up at the usual time the next morning and avoid taking naps to help maintain a normal sleeping schedule.
  • Maintain a bedtime ritual such as taking a hot bath at least 2 hours before bedtime to help relax the body and make ready for sleeping. Another way is adding 2 cups of Epsom salts to a bathtub filled with warm water. Soak the body in the solution at least 15-20 minutes before going to bed at night.
  • Take a bed time snack of milk and cookies at least 2-3 hours before going to bed at night. Another way is to add a tablespoon of honey to a decaffeinated tea or warm milk to help the body relax before going to bed at night. Tryptophan is a chemical found in milk that helps the brain fall into a sleep mode. Other foods rich in tryptophan include cashew, chicken, soybeans, tuna and cottage cheese.
  • Take the prescribed hormone supplements such as melatonin which helps control the sleep and wake cycle.

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