What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder where a person is having difficulty staying asleep, falling asleep, or getting the proper amount of sleep. The amount of sleep a person needs varies; however, most need to have at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Although people may experience a sleepless night once in a while, it does not mean that they are suffering from insomnia. However, if a person experiences several sleepless nights, has trouble going to sleep often, or wakes up still feeling tired, they may be suffering from insomnia.
Most sufferers wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed. Insomnia can cause a decline in energy levels, mood swings, and result in poor work performance. Many people also report a lower quality of life.
Symptoms of Insomnia
There are many symptoms associated with insomnia. Some of these symptoms are mild, while others are more severe. Many people think insomnia is simply the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep; however, insomnia can have other physical and psychological symptoms.
The sleep patterns can be used to diagnose insomnia. Some may experience times of wakefulness in the night, others may wake up too early. A person may have difficulty falling asleep or sleep less than six hours. Some may also experience daytime sleepiness, tiredness, or wake up feeling exhausted. Physical symptoms may include tension headaches and gastrointestinal disorders. Headaches generally occur because the muscles are unable to relax. Gastrointestinal disorders caused by insomnia can include irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, stomach pain and indigestion.
Insomniacs may also experience a plethora of psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression and irritability due to lack of sleep. Others may have difficulty focusing, trouble paying attention and memory problems. Because of these symptoms people may have increased accidents or errors in their work.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia could be caused by medical conditions, changes in work schedules, medications, food, and psychological issues. Aging can also lead to insomnia. Those suffering with chronic pain may not be able to sleep due to the pain. Psychological conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression can also cause sleep disorders. Urinary incontinence, an overactive thyroid, or gastrointestinal problems can also affect sleep. The medications used to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and pulmonary disorders may also experience insomnia.
Changes in work habits can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Additionally, some beverages can act as stimulants causing sleep problems. Stimulants include caffeine and nicotine. It is essential for patients to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or using tobacco products close to bedtime. Although alcohol is a sedative, it can actually cause sleep disruptions. Alcohol prevents patients from going into deep sleep.
Insomnia can happen at any age; however, older people usually suffer from insomnia. This may be caused by changes in reduced activity levels, increased medications, and health issues.
Are you suffering from sleep disorders or insomnia? Please call us at (571)529-6699 and set up an appointment with our integrative physician.
We gladly serve Northern Virginia including Fairfax, Loudoun, Alexandria, and Prince William counties, Washington DC metro area, and Maryland.