Saturday, September 18, 2010

Insomnia Symptoms

Chronic insomnia symptoms are usually a result of another medical or mental condition. Some people complain they can’t fall asleep easy or find themselves waking up during the night causing them to suffer from poor concentration, loss of memory, impaired motor coordination, irritability and restlessness during their day. To counteract these conditions many attempt to use self-treatment methods such as alcohol or antihistamines which may only compound their sleep deprivation. Insomnia is a sleep disorder which can be intermittent or chronic caused by a medical condition or not. If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early and/or feeling tired upon waking you may be showing signs of insomnia.

There are two types of insomnia; primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is caused by conditions not associated with health issues while secondary insomnia means a person has a medical condition such as asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, heartburn or even side effect from prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications that can interfere with sleep. (medications with caffeine. like aspirin)

Short-term or acute insomnia is caused by stress, illness, emotional or physical discomfort, environmental factors, medications or abnormal sleep patterns such as those associated with jet lag or working the late night shift. Long-term or chronic insomnia includes depression, chronic stress or physical pain. Insomnia can also be caused by another sleep disorder like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS) or night terrors.

If you think you have insomnia it is recommended that you discuss your symptoms with your physician. It is sometimes helpful for the doctor to determine the cause if you keep a sleep journal and review it during your initial consultation. Your sleep partner may also provide beneficial information in regards to the quality and quantity of sleep you are getting. Your doctor may suggest further clinical testing in order to diagnosis the cause of your insomnia. You may be referred to a sleep center where they can monitor you while you sleep.

Acute insomnia usually does not require any medical treatment but only lifestyle changes such as establishing a sleep routine, avoiding caffeine, not eating late in the day, getting some exercise (preferably in the morning) and making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cozy and pet free. Some doctors may suggest taking an herbal supplement such as Gaba, Valerian or Melatonin to help you relieve stress and promote drowsiness. Try to avoid prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications as they have side effects and have addictive properties.

Treatment for chronic insomnia first requires determining the underlying cause. Your doctor may recommend behavioral therapy with relaxation techniques by way of breathing exercises and/or progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique of tensing and relaxing all the muscle groups of the body in an orderly way. Once a cause is identified, it is important to manage and control the underlying problem, as this alone may eliminate the insomnia. Treating the symptoms of insomnia without addressing the main cause is rarely successful.

During the initial consultation your doctor will evaluate your medical history, review all medications and supplements you may be taking and determine if you have a psychiatric disorder or abuse drugs or alcohol. He will also ask you questions on your sleep habits such as snoring or RLS and use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale which is a questionnaire that will assess daytime sleepiness. If you have gained weight this may contribute to obstructive sleep apnea which will require further testing at a sleep center to determine the severity of the condition by monitoring your sleep patterns.

Actigraphy is another technique to assess sleep-wake patterns over time. Actigraphs are small, wrist-worn devices (about the size of a wristwatch) that measure movement. They contain a microprocessor and on-board memory and can provide objective data on daytime activity. For older adults, such as older nursing home residents, actigraphy is indicated to characterize sleep and circadian patterns and to document treatment responses when traditional sleep monitoring system poses challenges.

You should contact your doctor if your insomnia lasts longer than three or four week and interferes with your daily activities or is caused by a physical or mental aliment. If you experience worsening pain or have difficulty breathing seek emergency medical care. Adhere to your doctor’s recommendations for any medical and psychological condition and make sure you go to your follow-up visits so your doctor can document treatment responses. Since everyone’s insomnia symptoms are unique, you may have to modify your treatment methods before finding one that works for you. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep disorders and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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2 comments:

  1. [...] related problems or make physical and mental health conditions worse. An anxiety disorder can cause insomnia symptoms; can’t fall asleep easy, can’t fall back to sleep after waking up during the night, wake up too [...]

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