Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by having difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Sleep-onset insomnia is characterized by having trouble falling asleep, while sleep-maintenance insomnia concerns having difficulty staying asleep. An individual with mixed insomnia has difficulty with both falling and staying asleep.
A person with primary insomnia has no other related conditions. Their inability to sleep arises with no direct physiological cause. Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, occurs because of other factors. For example, if the insomniac suffers from migraines or other chronic pain, they may also have trouble falling or staying asleep. Treatment for primary insomnia focuses on understanding the insomnia directly, while treatment for secondary insomnia involves addressing the condition which is causing a lack of sleep as a secondary effect.
Paradoxical insomnia is a condition in which a person underestimates the amount of sleep they have had. They may have a full night of sleep, but wake up feeling as if they had only slept for a few hours.
In addition to having trouble falling or staying asleep, insomniacs may wake up earlier than they want to. They may be drowsy or irritable throughout the day, or lack the ability to concentrate or focus on tasks. They may also struggle with other mental conditions such as depression or anxiety, or be at an increased risk of accidents or mistakes on the job or at school.
Many factors can contribute to a lack of sleep. Lifestyle choices such as eating before bedtime, watching TV or videos, playing video games, or other activities that require a high level of mental engagement can disrupt sleep habits. Life or work stress often cause insomnia. So can travel, especially when one is traveling to different time zones, which can interfere with a person’s biological clock. Too much noise or light can hinder sleep; so can a sleeping area which is uncomfortable. Genetics can also play a role.
Certain conditions or situations can present an increased risk of insomnia. Certain mental or physical health problems (e.g. depression, anxiety, or conditions with chronic pain) can increase the risk of insomnia. So can careers that require individuals to work odd hours or rotating shifts.
If insomnia persists, it can lead to complications such as high blood pressure or obesity. This results because of the increase in stress that the body must endure. The body produces cortisol to mitigate stress, a hormone that creates a number of negative effects in the body. Depression and anxiety are possible complications, as is an increased risk of accidents or errors. The lack of quality rest can also put a strain on an individual’s relationships, or result in bad judgement – in any area of life.
When you meet with your Essential Care NJ therapist, they will ask you a number of questions to identify which of your choices may be contributing to poor sleep. Ruling out lifestyle habits is critical to addressing more serious issues, as you will want to be clear about what is causing your problem. Once you are, treatment is much more effective.
The place where you sleep should be used for sleep. Watching TV before bed is not a good idea, as TV and computer screens require a high level of attention and engagement from your brain and senses. In the hour prior to sleep, you should be allowing your mind and body to feel the weight and stress of the day and relax, rather than push them to take on more activity.
Also – you should avoid eating in the hours before bedtime, as this can lead to discomfort when in a prone position. It can also cause acid reflux or similar issues, which have been known to interfere with sleep. Insomniacs should avoid caffeine in the evening or even the afternoon – if they consume it at all.
If the insomniac battles with symptoms of anxiety, anti-anxiety medication can help him or her rest. Tranquilizers (e.g. benzodiazepines) can help a person get rest in the short term, although these are often habit-forming and can be dangerous if addiction occurs. They are best used in a short-term situation, such as when the individual is recovering from long-distance travel. One should avoid over-the-counter sleep aids, especially if they are not getting guidance from a physician, as they can become habit-forming or present other challenges.
At Essential Care NJ, your therapist will be able to isolate and quantify those areas of your life that are causing you stress and affecting your sleep. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a key therapy modality for empowering the individual to alter their beliefs about those elements of life that cause stress so that they become less stressful. Your therapist can also train the insomniac to utilize sleep management strategies such as relaxation techniques, light therapy, or sleep restriction. Most significantly, your therapist can treat you for other mental health conditions which contribute to insomnia (e.g. depression), or prescribe medication.
Insomnia is an annoying, sometimes debilitating condition that affects about 3 million people in the United States at any given time. Our therapists are very familiar with this common condition, and are well-versed in identifying its root cause and addressing it with an appropriate remedy. Our methodology is founded upon the values of fairness, integrity, and honesty, and our purpose is providing accessible, holistic, patient-centered care that enables our patients to lead stress-free, healthy lives. We always place your well-being as our number one priority, and our goal is your peace of mind.
If you or someone close to you is having persistent trouble sleeping, we invite you to give us a call. On this website, use the search tool to find the Essential Care NJ office that is convenient to you and call the number to set up an appointment. We are happy to sit with you and hear what you’ve been going through. Often, the causes of insomnia are not obvious, and it may take a professional to help you pinpoint the areas in your life that require some personal attention. In many cases you can avoid medication simply by making a few simple changes that will reduce your stress and make life easier. Often in life, the simplest answers tend to be the best ones.