Insomnia pertains to a symptom that is characterized by the difficulty in falling asleep. In other cases, insomnia is also involved in not being able to sleep for the required number of hours each night. It is thus pertinent to describe insomnia as a symptom associated with poor quality or insufficiency of sleep. Several factors may trigger the symptom of insomnia in an individual, hence this condition can be considered as situational, wherein a certain incident may result in an individual’s inability to sleep.
Insomnia may also be described based on its occurrence in an individual, thus resulting in intermittent or persistent forms (Davidson 109). Insomnia generally occurs with another medical condition, such as a psychiatric disease or drug abuse. The importance of treatment regimens for insomnia has been the focus of biomedical research as it has long been established that insomnia does not resolve through time. More importantly, it has been reported that insomnia can significantly affect the quality of life of an individual.
In addition, insomnia can result in the further progression of a psychiatric disorder, thus putting a patient at greater risk for mental health deterioration (Davidson 112). It has also been observed that the occurrence of insomnia is positively correlated to the frequency of consultations with a physician, as additional medical disorders are caused by this sleeping symptom. Impact of insomnia on sleep As insomnia is a symptom that affects sleep, it is important to determine the causative factors that result in such condition.
The most common factors that influence the occurrence of insomnia include stressful incidents in the life of an individual. Death of a loved one, as well as conflict with another individual, often results in insomnia (Davidson 110). Illness and problems with work or study can also result in a difficulty in sleeping. Environmental factors may also result in insomnia, such as that of residing in a location where there is constant noise from traffic or construction. Social conditions may also influence the occurrence of insomnia, such as that of caring for a newborn baby right after childbirth.
However, it should be understood that the sleeping patterns of pregnant women after generally disturbed and thus may even be more severe after childbirth. It has been suggested that post-partum insomnia may be possibly due to the mother’s instinct of providing constant care for her child, in terms of feeding and cleaning the baby. Other social factors that result in insomnia include having an adolescent child who spends evenings outside the home and the parents worriedly stay awake until their child comes home (Davidson 110). Age has also been reported to influence the occurrence on insomnia.
It has been observed that insomnia is a common symptom that afflicts women who have reached the transition stage into menopause, as this phase of their life causes much distress to them. Caring for a sick elderly individual also results in insomnia, as the caretaker vigilantly checks on an older individual throughout the night. This condition tends to be more difficult when the elderly person is also suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which is generally characterized by straying to other places even in the late hours of the night.
The caretaker thus tends to keep watch over the actions of the elderly person in order to keep him from harm. Impact of insomnia of waking functioning Circadian rhythm pertains to the cyclic patterns that an individual undertakes based on a synchronizing stimulus. Most living species synchronize their activities based on the most ominous factor, which is the light emanating from the sun. In the case of human beings, sunlight determines whether it is time to awaken or to sleep. The presence of light also influences the majority of the physiologic activities of the human body, including the time of the meals in an entire day.
The circadian clock of every individual is thus set according to the standard day, wherein sunlight in present for approximately 12 hours and absence for another 12 hours. Within the evening, the human body is programmed to rest and this is mainly through sleep. The occurrence of insomnia can affect an individual’s circadian rhythm as the length or the quality of sleep is affected. An individual with insomnia may be awake at least half of the night and thus find poor coordination in his motor and mental skills during the day.
Individuals who work on a shift basis are often affected by insomnia as they are generally assigned to different hours every few months (Shechter 15). Healthcare personnel, such as nurses and technologists, are usually assigned to work on the night shift for 3 months and thus their circadian rhythm is misaligned during this period. Once they return to their daytime shift, they find difficulty in falling asleep as their bodies have already adjusted to a modified circadian rhythm (Shechter 14).
The same conditions also occur in other jobs that are associated with changes in shift duties, including those in the police departments and other 24-hour surveillance jobs. The perturbation in the circadian rhythm and its association to the onset of insomnia often results in the deterioration of the quality of work of an individual or a poor performance in school. In addition, an individual with insomnia usually shows poor cognitive capacity, as well as a decrease in the productivity at work. These individuals often lack the capacity to focus on their activities, resulting in accidents (Shechter 15).
It is a common occurrence that drivers get into accidents due to the lack of sleep and thus their motor skills and reflex actions are not that reactive during the day. Polysomnographic features of insomnia Polysomnographic studies have shown that an individual with insomnia is generally characterized to have a short latency period during their sleep (Shechter 14). In addition, the sleep efficiency of these individuals is significantly low, resulting in the frequent and easy awakening by even simple stimuli in their immediate environment.
The rapid eye movement (REM) and sigma sleep stages of individuals with insomnia are largely influenced by the circadian rhythms that are been set by their bodies and thus any change in the sleeping quality and habits may affect these sleep stages. Any disturbance in these sleep stages may result in the lack of or difficulty in sleeping. Polysomnographic investigations have also shown that the core body temperature in influenced by an individual’s circadian rhythm. Sleep is thus normally observed in the evening, when the core body temperature is significantly lower than what is usually observed during the day.
Any shift in the circadian rhythm of an individual may thus result in an unexpected core body temperature, resulting in an individual’s difficulty in falling asleep. This core body temperature should be achieved approximately six hours before going to sleep, in order for an individual to achieve the normal 8 hours of sleep. For an individual who attends to a night-shift job, the usual length of sleep varies from 4 to 7 hours, which is a prime feature of insomnia. Behavior and/or therapeutic recommendations for insomnia
It is possible to adapt behavioral conditioning strategies for insomnia. Individuals suffering from insomnia often spend hours or several evenings in bed but are fully awake the entire time. Their insomnia thus further worsens as their brain is conditioned to consider the bed and the bedroom as sites where one stays awake and any attempt to further induce sleep may be futile. It is thus suggested that when one feels sleepy, regardless of the time of day, one should then attempt to go to his bed in order to teach his brain that the bed is a place to sleep.
It is also not helpful for an individual with insomnia to find a substitute place to sleep, such as the couch, as this will condition his mind that the couch is his sleeping niche and eventually, going back to the bedroom can even be harder to achieve. There are specific drug formulations that may also aid an individual suffering from insomnia. One of the most common medications is benzodiazepine, which binds to the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors of the brain, which is responsible to the excitation of neural cells (Davidson 111).
This binding thus results in the inhibition of the neural functions of the individual, resulting in a sleepy mode. One negative effect of benzodiazepine is that the normal stages of sleep are affected and thus may trigger unnecessary changes in the duration of each stage and possibly dependence on the drug. It is also possible that this drug may induce hypnotic effects on an individual. Non-benzodiazepine formulations are also available for the treatment of insomnia. Melatonin is another therapeutic regimen that may be administered to an individual with insomnia (Davidson 112).
There is currently great debate with regards to the effectiveness of this drug, as it has mostly been applied to individuals suffering from jet lag-induced insomnia and thus this drug may not be effective for other insomnias that are caused by other factors. Antidepressants and antihistamines can also be administered to insomnia patients to alleviate their difficulty in falling asleep. Herbal concoctions have also been reported to facilitate sleep. A few of the most used herb are chamomile, kava kava and lavender, which can be supplied in tea formats.
Personal reflections Insomnia is generally regarded as a simple condition that is often misunderstood and mistreated. It is important that insomnia be addressed as soon as possible because this condition often affects several systems of the human body and may thus result in the decrease in the immune capacity of an individual. Insomnia can also affect the quality of work or study of an individual and thus this negative effect should be addressed at the earliest possible time.
Social interactions can also be affected by insomnia, as these individuals are often irritable and sensitive. Several accidents have also been caused by the lack of sleep and it is possible that an individual may hurt himself while working and even hurt other people, especially when they are using a motor vehicle when they suddenly lose attention or fall asleep. It is thus imperative that individuals with insomnia be educated on what to do to take control of their condition and possibly go back to their normal circadian patterns.