Insomnia: The Sleep Taking Monster


Insomnia is a sleeping disorder which induces difficulty in sleepingthat causes rapid disturbance is daily life. Furthermore as a result people suffering from insomnia feel exhausted when the wake up. This sleeping difficulty brings up a heavy toll on the health of the sufferer. According to Foxnews a research conducted on 1,667 females and 1,498 males in Finland who were part of a long-term study showed that overall 12 percent of women and 15 percent of the men suffered from insomnia. People of various ages are suffering from insomnia but it persists commonly among the adults. Obesity, anxiety and depression can be caused by insomnia. In addition to that irritability, concentration problems, memory problems, poor immune system function, and reduced reaction time are also caused.

Among many other sleeping disorders insomnia is one of the most acute one. In most of the cases Insomnia comes in three different categories. Such as

  • Transient insomnia–This type happens if only the symptoms are persisted for few days up to a week.
  • Acute insomnia– This type is called the short-term insomnia. In this case the symptom lasts up to few weeks.
  • Chronic insomnia–This is the most dangerous one as the symptoms lastat least a month and in many cases for years. According to the National Institutes of Health,insomnia can be caused by the typically undesirable effects of a drug or medical treatment or other difficulties.

There are several causes of insomnia and many of them are psychological or because of the adverse effects of medical treatments. Jet lag, job shift changes, high altitudes, noisiness, hotness or coldness also cause this disorder and psychological issues like bipolar disorder or depression, anxiety can play a very significant role in developing this sleeplessness. Moreover medical conditions including brain lesions and tumors, stroke, chronic pain, congestive heart failure, angina, acid-reflux disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, hyperthyroidism, arthritis also causes insomnia. Some Hormones such as estrogen is also a reason behind this disorder.


There are many alarming symptoms of insomnia whereas insomnia itself can be a symptom of various medical conditions. Some signs and symptoms can be difficulty in falling asleep at night, awakening up during the night, awakening earlier than desired, still feeling tired after a night’s sleep, daytime fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, depression or anxiety, poor concentration and focus, being uncoordinated, an increase in errors or accidents, tension, headaches, difficulty in socializing, gastrointestinal symptoms, worrying about sleeping.

Tests and Diagnostics:

For diagnostics a sleep specialist is needed who will conduct a session through several questions regarding the previous medical history and sleep pattern. A physician may be consulted to conduct diagnostics as this disorder can be caused by many physical problems.

Treatment Options for Insomnia:

Some types of insomnia are self-limited. On the other hand for other types if the sleeping problems can be solved insomnia can be cured. As adjuvant therapies non-pharmaceutical and medical approaches can be taken.

Non-pharmacological approach include improving sleep hygiene which means no over- or under-sleep, daily exercise, no forceful sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine at night, no smoking and making sure the environment is comfortable. Besides relaxation techniques including meditation can be used. Additionally counseling therapies can be applied too. Lastly stimulus control therapy more like going to bed when sleepy, not watching TV, reading, eating in bed, setting an alarm for the same time every morning, avoiding long daytime naps can also treat insomnia.

Medical treatments for insomnia include taking medicines like benzodiazepines, Antidepressants and Over-the-counter sleep aids, Antihistamines, Melatonin, Ramelteon, Valerian officinalis.

Rafi Ahmed is an undergrad student of Department of pharmacy, East West university. He can be reached at

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