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What is Insomnia?

MVSAT 2024

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In this article, we are going to discuss what insomnia is and home remedies for sleep.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling and/or remaining asleep. Acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) disorders are both possible (chronic). It has the ability to appear and vanish. The duration of acute insomnia can range from a single night to several weeks. When insomnia happens at least three days a week for three months or longer, it is considered chronic.

Insomnia Causes

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Secondary insomnia can be brought about by a number of things, including mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

  1. Medications for colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, as well as for asthma

  2. There is pain or discomfort at night.

  3. Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol use

  4. Hyperthyroidism and other endocrine disorders

  5. Some sleep conditions include sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

Insomnia Risk Factors

Generally, women are more affected by insomnia than men, and older people are more affected than younger people. African Americans in their twenties and thirties are also at a higher risk.

Other variables to consider are:

  1. An illness that lasts a long time

  2. Problems of mental wellbeing.

  3. Working night shifts or rotating shifts.

Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI)

FFI is known as a prion disease or a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The accumulation of misfolded prion proteins in the brain causes prion diseases. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome are two other prion diseases that may be caused by changes in the PRNP gene, but some prion diseases may occur without a genetic difference. Long incubation times and limited clinical duration are common features of prion disorders, which means irregular prions can accumulate for years without causing symptoms (long incubation period), but once symptoms appear, the condition quickly worsens.

Symptoms of Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI)

While insomnia is the most common symptom, some people develop progressive dementia, which causes worsening problems with thinking, comprehension, memory, language, and actions. At first, the symptoms can be subtle, such as unintended weight loss, forgetfulness, inattentiveness, concentrating difficulties, or speech difficulties. Confusion or hallucinations can occur in the future.

Some people with this condition can experience double vision (diplopia) or jerky eye movements (nystagmus). There may be swallowing issues (dysphagia) or slurred speech (dysarthria). Some people finally struggle to coordinate voluntary movements (ataxia). Tremors or twitchy, jerking muscle spasms (myoclonus) can occur, as well as Parkinson's-like symptoms.

Additional symptoms involving autonomic nervous system dysfunction are common. Specific symptoms differ from person to person depending on which part of the autonomic nervous system is impaired. Fever, tachycardia, high blood pressure (hypertension), increased sweating (hyperhidrosis), increased tear generation, constipation, body temperature fluctuations, and sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction, are all common symptoms. Anxiety and depression are also frequent findings.

Insomnia Treatment

Let's look at certain insomnia cures and remedies.

Many people may get restful sleep by changing their sleeping habits and resolving any problems that could be causing their insomnia, such as stress, medical conditions, or drugs. If these methods don't work, your doctor can suggest cognitive behavioural therapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two to help you relax and sleep better.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Insomnia

CBT-I is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that can help you monitor or eradicate negative thoughts and behaviours that keep you awake. This is recommended as the first line of treatment. CBT-I is usually as effective as or more effective than sleep drugs.

CBT-cognitive I's component teaches you how to identify as well as how to alter perceptions that interfere with your sleep. It can help you reduce or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you up at night. It could also mean breaking the cycle of being so concerned about getting enough sleep that you can't sleep.

CBT-behavioral I's component aids in the development of healthy sleep habits and the avoidance of behaviours that prevent you from sleeping well. For instance, consider the following strategies:

  • Stimulus control therapy. This approach aids in the removal of stimuli that cause the mind to stop sleeping. For example, you may be advised to stick to a regular bedtime and wake time, avoid naps, use the bed just for sleep and sex, and leave the bedroom if you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, returning only when you're tired.

  • Relaxation techniques. Anxiety can be reduced at bedtime by using progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and breathing exercises. These exercises will help you relax by allowing you to regulate your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension, and mood.

  • Sleep restriction. This treatment reduces the amount of time you spend in bed and discourages afternoon naps, resulting in partial sleep loss and increased fatigue the next night. Your time in bed is steadily increased until your sleep has improved.

  • Remaining passively awake. This treatment for learned insomnia, also known as paradoxical purpose, aims to reduce worry and anxiety over not being able to fall asleep by getting in bed and attempting to stay awake rather than hoping to fall asleep.

  • Light therapy. You can use light to reset your internal clock if you fall asleep too early and then wake up too early. You may use a lightbox or go outside at times of the year when it is light outside in the evenings. Consult the doctor for suggestions.

Here are a few points that you need to keep in mind to get you started:

  1. You need to maintain a regular sleep routine. It is necessary to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time during the week, including weekends.

  2. Stay active

  3. Examine your prescriptions.

  4. Naps should be avoided or restricted.

  5. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided or restricted, and nicotine should be avoided.

  6. Don't put up with the discomfort.

  7. Big meals and drinks should be avoided before going to bed.

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FAQs on Insomnia

1. What is Fatal Insomnia?

Answer: Fatal insomnia is a rare prion disorder that interferes with sleep and causes mental capacity to deteriorate and coordination to be lost. Death can take anything from a few months to a few years. 

2. What is the Main Cause of Insomnia?

Answer: Stress is a common cause of chronic insomnia. Work, education, health, finances, or family concerns will keep your mind busy at night, making sleeping difficult. Stressful life events or trauma, such as the death or disease of a loved one, divorce, or the loss of a career can also cause insomnia.