Insomnia ï¿½" the inability to fall asleep at night or to sleep soundly throughout the night ï¿½" can be temporary or persistent and can have many causes. Insomnia that is temporary is frequently classified as transient. If insomnia lasts longer than a few days or even a few weeks, it usually will be classified as permanent.
Women suffer the effects of insomnia more than men do, probably due to the many hormonal changes women experience. In addition, because of other factors such as a sedentary lifestyle or an underlying medical condition or as a side effect of prescription medication, insomnia can increase with age.
Insomnia that is not considered persistent can result from too much stress, from crossing into different time zones, or from environmental factors such as an increase in noise levels or temperature variations of more than a few degrees. Exposure to excessive light or loud and/or persistent noise including nearby traffic and even closer second-hand snoring can create an environment in which sleep is elusive. Insomnia can even be the result of learned behavior.
Medical treatment for intermittent or transient insomnia generally is not prescribed. That's because the condition typically remedies itself once the affected individual takes control of his or her situation and corrects the problem(s) causing the insomnia.
Permanent or chronic insomnia, on the other hand, can be more serious, even debilitating. The degree of severity will have a lot to do with what is found to be the underlying cause. Therefore, the first step that those suffering from chronic insomnia need to take is to meet with a specialist or health care provider. Understanding this disease and how it affects you is the only way to begin narrowing down the reasons behind chronic insomnia.
This type of insomnia could be caused by an abuse of narcotics or even caffeine or by shift work. Or it could be due to any number of physical or mental disorders including depression, anxiety, kidney disease, heart trouble, restless leg syndrome, asthma, Parkinson's disease or a condition called sleep apnea. And there are even more reasons why someone might regularly have trouble getting a good night's sleep.
The process of determining the underlying cause could be long and might require numerous tests and evaluations, but it has to happen. Once the cause is known, it will be easier to identify whether medical treatments are necessary or whether the underlying cause of insomnia can be treated by making one or more behavioral changes. Alleviating insomnia could be as easy as eliminating caffeine several hours before bedtime.
Diagnosing insomnia can be ever trickier than diagnosing an underlying condition because sleep in general is subjective. What is an ample amount for one person isn't necessarily right for someone else. In general, those who have difficulty remaining alert, focused and able to concentrate during the day may be suffering insomnia. Keeping a sleep journal, answering a number of sleep-related questions and evaluating the answers and/or seeing a sleep specialist are some of the tools that can help diagnose insomnia.
If your insomnia is developing into a chronic and debilitating problem, it's time to seek help. A sleep consultant will aid you in understanding this disease. He or she can help to pinpoint the problem, whether mental or physical, and work with you in solving it. Visit www.sleepmanagementconsultants.com for more information on what a sleep consultant can do for you.
About the Author
Steven N. Muller health, fitness and sleep expert and is currently involved with following websites: http://www.loseweightandcleanse.com/ and http://www.sleepmanagementconsultants.com/