What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is characterized by an inability to sleep and/or to remain asleep for a reasonable period. Insomniacs typically complain of being unable to close their eyes or “rest their mind” for more than a few minutes at a time. Insomnia is a symptom, though a common misconception is that it is itself a sleep disorder. Insomnia is most often caused by sleep disorders, but other causes include fear, stress, anxiety, medications, herbs and caffeine. An overactive mind or physical pain may also be a cause. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it.
- Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a sleeping person’s breathing is interrupted, thus interrupting the normal sleep cycle. With the obstructive form of the condition, some part of the sleeper’s respiratory tract loses muscle tone and partially collapses. People with obstructive sleep apnea often do not remember any of this, but they complain of excessive sleepiness during the day. Central sleep apnea interrupts the normal breathing stimulus of the central nervous system, and the individual must actually wake up to resume breathing. This form of apnea is often related to a cerebralvascular condition, congestive heart failure, and premature aging.
- Jet Lag is seen in people that travel through multiple time zones on a regular basis, as the time relative to the rising and falling of the sun no longer coincides with the body’s internal concept of it. It is also seen in people who consistently work night shifts.
- Parasomnia includes a number of disorders or disruptive sleep events including nightmares, sleepwalking, violent behavior while sleeping, and REM behavior disorder, in which a person moves his/her physical body in response to events within his/her dreams. These conditions can often be treated successfully through medical intervention or through the use of a sleep specialist.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease causes repeated awakenings during the night due to unpleasant sensations resulting from stomach acid flowing upward into the throat while asleep.
- Mania or Hypomania in bipolar disorder can cause difficulty falling asleep. A person going through a manic or hypomanic episode may feel a reduced need for sleep. Sleep deprivation can worsen a manic episode, or cause hypomania to develop into mania.