Better Health: Insomnia

Overall individual health and well-being depends of multiple factors, but adequate sleep usually tops the list.

When the body is suffering from irregular or insufficient sleep, the impacts can be countless, while being detrimental to mental and physical health and the overall quality of an individual’s life.

When we think of lack of sleep the term insomnia may come to mind, and although most people experience difficulty sleeping from time to time at some point in their lives episodes of insomnia have comparable differences.

Since insomnia does not affect everyone the same, specific diagnoses must be left to medical professionals. However, a reccurring difficulty with getting to sleep and staying asleep can point directly to what insomnia is.

According to medical professionals, insomnia can be characterised as a “persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or quality.” As such, individuals who are impacted struggle with sleep despite having adequate opportunities. They may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness and other dysfunctions when awake.

However, not all diagnoses for insomnia are the same and people can experience the condition in distinct ways.

Researchers highlight that insomnia can be short term (acute) or long term (chronic), and for some it may come and go at random. For those with acute insomnia, episodes can last from one to a few weeks, while in chronic cases episodes range from three weeks to three months and over.

There are numerous potential causes of insomnia and it can also be a combination of these multiple factors. Many of these causes include, but are not limited to, irregular sleep schedules, mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, physical pain or illness and specific sleep disorders.

Treatment for insomnia depends on the diagnosis from a health care professional. However, based on studies conducted, treatment focuses on improving sleep quality, duration, and reducing the impairments which are associated with the condition. These regimens can include behavioural therapy interventions or multiple forms of sleep medication.

Better Health Magazine is published monthly by The Nation Publishing Co. Limited.

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