A few days ago, I was talking to a friend and she mentioned how stressful her life is and that she hardly sleeps at all due to chronic insomnia. At first, I thought well it might just be the side effect of drinking too much coffee.
Hmm! That was not a good assumption. So I decided to ask around about chronic insomnia and the information I got was eye-opening.
So what is chronic insomnia?
Chronic insomnia can be a primary disorder or a secondary disorder and usually lasts for three weeks or more.
Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleeping problems but unrelated to a physical or mental condition.
Secondary insomnia means there is another condition in which insomnia is a symptom of that condition. These disorders can be an underlying psychological or physiological disorder. These three types of insomnia are generally discernible with diverse origins.
First off, chronic insomnia is determined by the duration of the symptoms rather than by a certain number of hours of sleep you get a night because each person varies on their individual sleep needs.
There are various psychological and physiological reasons for having chronic insomnia and they can have significant effects on you. The effects of chronic insomnia can vary depending on what the cause of chronic insomnia happens to be. The person’s overall health, both physical and mental health, plays a role.
The most common psychological reasons for insomnia are anxiety, stress, and depression and know that insomnia is an indicator of depression. These psychological reasons can affect you and those around you. When this happens it’s advisable to seek professional help.
Some of the physiological reason can vary from GERD, chronic pain, diabetes, sleep apnea, and so on.
People aged 60 and above are at high risk of developing chronic insomnia. Regardless of their age, this segment of the population requires the same amount of sleep as the rest of the population but due to other ailments, common to this group, they often get less sleep.
This age group generally has more medical issues then younger populations and these issues can create stress and anxiety. They can come in the form of aches and pains you feel during the day that transmits to your sleeping hours making it impossible to get a complete nights rest. As earlier mentioned side effects from certain drugs might be a contributor.
Another group that is at greater risk, of sleep disorders leading to chronic insomnia, is women. There are several reasons for this. Mothers with newborn babies, often have a heightened awareness of the noise their child may make and can wake up easily.
Later in life when a woman is going through menopause, she has hormonal changes too with hot flashes and night sweats that can be a source of sleep disturbance. Moreover, once a woman is through menopause, decreased estrogen levels can contribute to a woman’s lack of restorative sleep.
Although insomnia does tend to be more prevalent in women, restorative sleep generally decreases equally in men and women as they age.
Finally, another group with a potential risk of developing chronic insomnia are people who suffer from mental disorders. This group is at risk of chronic insomnia by the mere fact they have a mental disorder. These mental disorders include but not limited to anxiety, depression, bi-polar and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Plus, insomnia is a known symptom for depression and since women are more prone to depression, they are more disposed to insomnia.
Furthermore, the risk of developing chronic insomnia is higher in people who are under continual stress. There are different types of stress known as “good” stress and “bad” stress. The good stresses are short-term and are not damaging to the immune system however, they can cause short-term or transient insomnia.
There are many reasons why a person may feel stressed and each person responds differently to the stresses in their life. In other words, what is stress to one person may not be so to another person.
Stress comes in different forms, for example, worrying about how you will pay your bills or put food on the table, conflicts with someone at work or a fear of being laid off or fired from your job. Conflicts at home, a separation, or a pending divorce are stressful situations that can cause chronic insomnia. Also, you may feel overworked or feel pressured to perform at home or at work.
In essence, chronic insomnia is prevalent in today’s society. Insomnia that lasts less than three weeks and subsides within that period is generally of less concern. But when insomnia lasts longer than three weeks, this long-term chronic condition requires attention.
Monitoring your sleep patterns, how much sleep you are getting and how you feel when you wake up in the morning is vital to your health. People age 60 and up, women, people with mental disorders and people under constant stress need to be vigilant in monitoring the amount of sleep they get.
These groups of people with psychological or physiological issues need to seek help from medical professionals.