BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health: Insomnia



Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling and staying asleep, sleep interruptions at night, waking up earlier than necessary and feeling exhausted when awake. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50 to 70 million Americans experience some form of sleep disorder. Insomnia can sometimes lead to depression by influencing the mood and attentiveness of people who it affects. Lack of sleep can also lead to household injuries, car accidents, problems at work, marital issues, social problems, alcohol abuse and poor health. Symptoms of Insomnia include sleepiness during the day, general tiredness, irritability and problems with concentration and memory. Insomnia is caused by several factors and may include one or more of the following:

  • Health problems such as pain, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome
  • Lack of sufficient physical activity
  • Substance abuse
  • Reactions to bad nights of sleep
  • Shift work and Jet lag
  • Insufficient exposure to sunlight
  • Overheating the bedroom
  • Emotional conditions such as stress, depression, worry and anxiety
  • Poor sleep habits, such as watching TV in bed
  • Lack of a regular bedtime schedule or significant physical discomfort
  • Changes in sleep habits or surroundings including noise, light, or bed change
  • Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, caffeine and certain medicines

There are two major types of insomnia; primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia occurs when a person suffers sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition. On the other hand, secondary insomnia is a situation where a person experiences sleep problems because of an underlying problem such as a health condition or factor.

Insomnia can also be categorized based on how often it occurs and how long it lasts when it occurs; these are acute and chronic Insomnia. Acute Insomnia may or may not occur frequently but lasts for a short time while chronic Insomnia occurs more frequently and lasts for a long time. Additionally, acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks; it can also come and go with periods of no sleep problems. Chronic Insomnia, on the other hand lasts at least three nights a week for three months or longer. Treating Insomnia focuses on the reasons and factors underlying one’s inability to sleep well. Certain personal and lifestyle changes may relieve Insomnia. These include:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol use hours before bedtime
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding prolonged use of phones or devices that give off light before bed,
  • Making the bedroom comfortable
  • Avoiding naps at daytime

Prescription drugs and counseling can also be used, however, it is important to note that medication doesn’t work as well over time as lifestyle and behavior changes do.

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