I Couldn’t Sleep at All Last Night
By John Thurman M.Div., M.A.
These words from an old song from the ‘50’s seem truer today than when they were first sung.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a major challenge for millions of Americans.
Have you noticed the television ads for prescription sleep aids? The Luna Moth, Abe Lincoln and the talking beaver or the man or woman tossing and turning in bed are some of the current visuals used to promote prescription sleep aids. It seems that our culture is having a hard time falling to sleep, staying asleep and feeling rested.
The National Institute for Health reports that nearly 70 million Americans struggle with sleep issues. I know, I have my struggles with sleep from time to time. My wife, on the other hand, usually sleeps as sound as a baby.
So what is insomnia? Simply stated, it means not getting enough sleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following classic symptom:
According to data provided by the National Institutes of Health, the number of people with sleep disorders - and the alarming number of undiagnosed cases - is nearly epidemic.
Current research suggests that approximately 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia on an annual basis, which can lead to serious sleep deficits and problems. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about forty percent of women and thirty percent of men.
Types of Insomnia
Individuals can have primary or secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia simply means that the person is having sleep problems that are not directly related to any other health condition or problem. Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep difficulties because of something else, such as a health condition (like depression, heartburn, pain, medication, or a substance they are using). Insomnia can vary in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. Short-term insomnia is called acute insomnia can last a few nights to a few weeks. This type of sleep loss is usually directly related to:
Chronic (long term) insomnia is when a person has had a break in their normal sleeping pattern for at least three nights a week for one month or longer. It can be caused by many things and often occurs along with other health problems. Common causes of chronic insomnia are depression, chronic stress, and pain or discomfort at night.
The good news is that there are a number of ways to get your sleep back on track. In the last section of this article you will receive several ideas about what you can do. We will look at how insomnia is diagnosed, how it can be treated, and we will close with some tips on sleep hygiene.
How is insomnia diagnosed?
If you think you have insomnia, talk to your health care provider. An evaluation may include a physical exam, a medical exam and a sleep history. You may even be asked to keep a sleep diary for a week or two, keeping track of your sleep patterns and how you feel during the day. Your health provider may also want to interview you spouse or roommate about the quantity and quality of your sleep. In some instances, you may be referred to a sleep center for special tests.
How is insomnia treated?
Acute or short-term insomnia may not require any medical treatment and may be helped by some small lifestyle changes. (See sleep tips below). But if your insomnia makes it hard to function during the day because you are sleepy and tired, your health care provider may prescribe sleeping pills for a limited time.
Treatment for chronic (long-term) insomnia includes first treating any underlying conditions or health problems that could be causing the insomnia. If the insomnia continues, your health care provider may suggest some behavioral therapy or medication. Most medications that are used for sleep have side effects and must be used with caution. It is not recommended to use over-the-counter medications for chronic insomnia. Small life changes can go a long way in helping re-establish sleeping patterns.
An ancient Proverb says, “You can lie down with out fear or anxiety and your sleep will be sweet.”Here are several general sleep tips that you can use to promote better sleep patterns:
In addition to medical treatments for sleep, there are alternative treatments such as teas, nutritional supplements, relaxation training, lifestyle changes, and oriental medicine.
Here is a great website: http://www.sleepfoundation.org
(c) 2007 John Thurman