What Is Insomnia?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, afflicting many individuals worldwide. Individuals who suffer from this sleep disorder will often find themselves with several negative side effects such as low energy, irritability and daytime sleepiness. Sleep is important in many different aspects when it comes to the human body. Sleep plays an important role in your physical and mental health and is vital to support growth and development, especially in children.

People always wonder how much sleep is "enough" but the truth is that how much sleep you need varies from person to person. However, it is important to have at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. 

There are two types of insomnia that affect individuals:

1. Acute insomnia: is the most common type of insomnia and is characterized by difficulty sleeping for a period of less than one month. Acute insomnia is often caused by illnesses, some medications, interference in a normal sleep schedule or significant life stresses. 

2. Chronic insomnia: may arise from another disorder and lasts for longer than a one month period. Some causes of chronic insomnia may include: depression and/or anxiety, severe and chronic stress and other medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and asthma. 

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects individuals lives in several different ways. Although there is no "cure" here are some good habits to try for sleeping when afflicted with either type of insomnia:

  • Keep your sleeping habits consistent- go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time each day, avoiding daytime naps entirely.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late in the day - these three things are stimulants and can keep you from not only falling asleep but also staying asleep at night.
  • Exercise at least three to four hours before going to sleep so as to not keep your brain wide awake and energized.
  • Relax and disconnect before bedtime- unplug your devices and read a book or listen to calming music instead.
  • Visit a sleep clinic and/or your family doctor!

Insomnia is a frustrating condition but you definitely don't have to go through the sleepless nights alone. Reach out to a family doctor and/or follow some of the simple changes listed above that can help you finally get a good night's rest! You definitely don't have to go through it alone.