Sleep Problems

WHAT IS INSOMNIA?

Insomnia is the complaint of inadequate, poor-quality, or unrefreshing sleep because of one or more of the following:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep
  • waking up too early in the morning

Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets or how long it takes to fall asleep. Individuals vary normally in their need for, and their satisfaction with, sleep. Insomnia may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Insomnia can be classified as transient (short term), intermittent (on and off), and chronic (constant).

Insomnia lasting from a single night to a few weeks is referred to as transient. If episodes of transient insomnia occur from time to time, the insomnia is said to be intermittent. Insomnia is considered to be chronic if it occurs on most nights and lasts a month or more.

 

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Certain conditions seem to make individuals more likely to experience insomnia. Examples of these conditions include:

  • advanced age (insomnia occurs more frequently in those over age 60)
  • female gender
  • a history of depression.

 

If other conditions (such as stress or mild anxiety) occur along with the above conditions, insomnia is more likely. There are many causes of insomnia. Transient and intermittent insomnia generally occur in people who are temporarily experiencing one or more of the following:

  • stress
  • environmental noise
  • extreme temperatures
  • change in the surrounding environment
  • sleep/wake schedule problems such as those due to jet lag

 

WHO GETS INSOMNIA?

Insomnia is found in males and females of all age groups, although it seems to be more common in females (especially after menopause) and in the elderly. The ability to sleep, rather than the need for sleep, appears to decrease with advancing age.

 

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