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Insomnia by Aden Muenala

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Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. Lack of sleep can affect many areas of a person’s life. Insomnia can be either a long-term or short-term disorder.   The lack of sleep makes people feel groggy and seeps into almost every area of their life due to low energy.  It can damper your mood, energy, health, and competency.   The majority of adults feel best with around seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Not everyone requires this many hours and some people require fewer but seven to eight hours is the average amount of sleep most adults would like to get each night.  Insomnia is a disorder that has many symptoms, causes, and complications.

Symptoms of insomnia are all brought on by a lack of rest and sleep. They include having a hard time falling asleep at night, waking up in the middle of the night, waking up earlier than a person needs to or intends to, still feeling tired and drained when a person wakes up after a night’s sleep, feeling drowsy and drained during the day, feeling depressed, anxious or irritable, lack of focus, increased mistakes and errors in work or driving, tension headaches, difficulty with digestion, and anxiety about sleeping or falling asleep.  The symptoms of insomnia affect a person’s mood, work life, personal life, and physical life so it is important to try and find a solution to help him or her sleep better.

Some people are more susceptible to insomnia than others. Women are more susceptible to insomnia than men because of their monthly hormone cycles and due to factors such as menopause. Symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats can interrupt a woman’s sleep at night or make it difficult to fall asleep.  People who work overnight or whose shifts change a lot often suffer more frequently from insomnia than people who have fixed work schedules and can develop routine sleeping patterns and habits.  People also become more likely to suffer from insomnia as they age and become older.  Travelers also commonly experience insomnia especially when they travel through multiple time zones in one day or often.  People who have experienced a stressful and or traumatic life event such as a divorce, death of a loved one, or loss of a job can have insomnia. Chronic stress related to your work, finances, or relationships can cause insomnia too.  People suffering from depression and anxiety also commonly have side effects that include insomnia.

Insomnia causes people to sometimes take more than half an hour to fall asleep and they only get six hours of sleep or less roughly half the nights in a week.  When this happens either short or long-term there can be some complications in a person’s life. Those complications include compromised performance at school or work,  lessened focus and delayed reaction time when driving thus causing more accidents, depression and or anxiety, being overweight or obese, having a weakened immune system and thus being more susceptible to illness, and even more serious complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.

Treatment for insomnia can include education about good sleep hygiene, behavioral therapies, and or medication.  Learning good sleep hygiene can include getting enough exercise during the day so that one is physically tired at night, creating a sufficient sleep environment, avoiding nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine, and setting a bedtime and wake-up time for every day.  Behavioral therapies include thinking positively about sleep, relaxation techniques, and learning to use one’s bed for sex and sleep only.  Medication for insomnia is sometimes used short-term because it can sometimes cause bad allergic reactions or have undesirable side effects.





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