Insomnia is a term often tossed around in the news and online but isn’t always well-defined. It’s generally understood that the symptoms of insomnia are those present when we aren’t able to sleep well, but what are they exactly? Sleep has a tremendous impact on overall health and learning how to spot the early symptoms of insomnia can help avoid potential negative impacts on one’s wellbeing.
Getting On The Same Page
For every mention of insomnia online there are often 5 different perspectives on the associated symptoms. For the discussion here, we’ll be drawing from a research paper written by Dr. Thomas Roth of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center, located in the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan.
In this 2007 paper, Dr. Roth defines the symptoms of insomnia as being related to the difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having nonrestorative sleep  . Of these three concerns, Dr. Roth notes that the following conditions must be present for a diagnosis of Insomnia:
1. This difficulty is present despite adequate opportunity and circumstance to sleep.
2. This impairment in sleep is associated with daytime impairment or distress.
3. This sleep difficulty occurs at least 3 times per week and has been a problem for at least 1 month.
What Causes Insomnia?
This is the first question those suffering from sleep-related disorders often find themselves asking. Knowing what causes insomnia isn’t something that’s broadly possible for everyone, as these causes are deeply personal and related to subjective circumstance.
There are several general correlations of health and insomnia that are worth noting. These have been noted by researchers to be connected in some capacity to those suffering from insomnia, though aren’t definitive in their ability to diagnose. These causes of insomnia are as follows:
1. Hyperarousal; This is often regarded as “stress’ in as much as it means circumstances through which one finds themselves unable to relax both mentally and physically.
2. Hormonal Shifts; Urinary cortisol levels (the stress hormone) have been noted as being higher in those suffering from insomnia. While this often associated with stress, these types of hormonal shifts can also occur as a result of other conditions or events.
3. Metabolic Rate; Again, these markers could be considered as shadows of stress itself. Insomnia sufferers have been noted by researchers to all demonstrate higher overall metrics of metabolism such as heart rate, blood pressure, and neuroendocrine measurements.
Treatments For Insomnia
If you suspect you are suffering from insomnia, the first step you take should always be consultation with a licensed health professional. There are many factors that could be impacting your sleep that you’ll never understand truly without laboratory testing and professional analysis.
The importance of this can’t be overstated’any casual misuse of prescription medication, natural sleep aid supplements, or other actions taken to address insomnia could simply make things much worse. With that in mind, there are some simple considerations one can make that are generally regarded as safe and effective ways to address issues of poor sleep; they are as follows:
1. Natural Sleep Aids: These are compounds like chamomile, melatonin, magnesium glycinate, and GABA that have all demonstrated potential in helping the body relax and naturally transition into a healthy sleep cycle .
2. Diet & Exercise: This is one of the surest ways to impact any aspect of one’s health‘including sleep health. Trying an elimination diet to help remove troublesome foods can impact sleep and regular exercise can help better regulate hormones and mitigate stress.
3. Mattress Quality: The quality of one’s sleep can often be tied to the quality of one’s sleep environment. Check out some of the latest mattress options and ensure you’ve got the best mattress possible within your budgetary range.
4. Meditation & Mindfulness: These are a broad range of activities that have shown tremendous ability to impact stress levels and metabolic markers associated with insomnia. Establishing a daily meditation practice can help support better sleep almost immediately.
5. Avoiding Electronics: This consideration is meant only for the hour or so leading up to sleep. Part of the body’s natural sleep regulation system is connected to light levels. Bright screens can confuse the body with regards to time of day, and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Insomnia is thought to affect nearly 6% of all people worldwide. Of those suffering from this sleep disorder nearly 90% are found to have an increased risk for other medical conditions. That shocking fact illuminates the connection between sleep and overall health better than any fact or figure out there.
If you’re not sleeping well then you’ve a statistically-higher chance of developing disease. While a clinical diagnosis of insomnia requires that one must have been suffering from sleep issues for at least a month, it’s important to be on guard for symptoms early on.
If you feel you’re having trouble sleeping each night carefully assess they progression of your symptoms. Insomnia is a very real concern, and has some very real consequences if not addressed professionally and effectively.
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