Insomnia – When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Work
Looking over at the alarm clock and counting down the hours before you have to get dressed and go to work – Is this scenario sounding familiar? If yes, this means you are no stranger to insomnia. The good news is that you aren’t alone. The statistics state that about 1 out of every 4 people in America develop insomnia. Insomnia affects just about every walk of life, young and old alike. Insomnia is a sleep disorder defined as not being able to stay asleep, or waking up many times during the night or failure to get to sleep easily. Unfortunately, insomnia can make one’s daily life more difficult to deal with. It can even cause serious health issues and bouts can last for as little as one week or as long as a year or more. Reports of life-long insomnia are not that uncommon - this might be referenced as a case of chronic insomnia.
Common Causes of Insomnia The causes of insomnia are categorized by two different classifications. The first set of causes are brought about by what is labeled as primary insomnia. Primary Insomnia is a disorder without any other reason for its existence. The second classification relates to insomnia-related symptoms that stem from an underlying condition.
Primary Insomnia Causes: prolonged stress, travel, disruptive life changes
Secondary Insomnia Causes: stroke, gastrointestinal disorders, menopause, an over-active thyroid, asthma, frequent urination, congestive heart failure
Treating Insomnia We know how discouraging it must feel to not be able to get a good night’s rest. There are some things you can do that may help. With any luck, you’ll begin sleeping like a baby again.
Short-term or situational insomnia might respond well to some easy lifestyle changes such as:
• Avoiding tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. • Establishing a bed-time routine. • Putting away all electronic devices and turning off the tv. • Installing light blocking curtains. • Reducing the temperature in the room where you sleep.
Over the counter and homeopathic remedies for occasional insomnia may provide some relief as well such as:
• Antihistamines such as Benadryl (This is the common ingredient in ZzzzQuil and most OTC sleep medications) • Chamomile tea • Scent therapy, such as lavender • Hot baths. • Herbal supplements such as melatonin or Valerian root. (Use caution, the FDA does not regulate natural products.) • Meditation or Yoga
When to Call a Doctor If you find that you have tried some of the remedies above and still are not able to get some rest, it may be time to consult a doctor. It is possible you may be suffering from acute insomnia. Some warning signs might include having trouble at work or drifting off to sleep at odd periods during the day without warning. More serious indications of acute insomnia are:
• Symptoms of depression • Neurological problems (such as problems balancing or coordination) • Higher than average blood pressure • Aches and pains that can’t be explained • Anger, Irritability, or exaggerated mental conditions
These are just a few of the many possible side effects of acute insomnia. For more advanced treatment options, consulting a doctor is required. You can call one of our RingMD doctors from the comfort of your own home. This is recommended as driving or operating machinery without sleep could result in an injury.