Why can’t I fall asleep, stay asleep, and why do I wake up early?
In the year 2007, the United States Department of Health and Human Services reported that approximately 64 million Americans suffered regularly from insomnia each year. Women suffer 1.4 times more often than men. Insomnia is not a disease in and of itself, but a symptom of a sleep disorder. Insomnia is characterized as an inability to fall asleep, or stay asleep through the night, or both.
TYPES OF INSOMNIA
There are three types of insomnia: transient, acute and chronic. Transient insomnia can last days, or weeks. It may be caused by the timing of sleep, severe depression, changes in the environment, or stress. Its effects on the body are like those of sleep deprivation.
Transient insomnia lasts for days to weeks. Its effects are similar to sleep deprivation.
Acute insomnia is insomnia that continues consistently for a period of three weeks to six months.
Chronic insomnia can go on for years at a time.
PATTERNS OF INSOMNIA
There are four patterns of insomnia: onset (difficulty falling asleep), middle-of-the-night (difficulty falling back to sleep after awakening in the night), middle (difficulty maintaining sleep), and terminal, or late insomnia (waking too early).
Insomnia may be difficult to diagnose. It is sometimes confused with delayed sleep phase syndrome.
Causes of insomnia include: drugs, medications, caffeine, ephedrine, stimulants, psychoactive drugs, hormones and hormone shifts, problems of life (stress, fear, etc.), mental afflictions, shift work, among other causes. Excessive alcohol intake can cause middle-of-the-night insomnia and other side effects such as hangovers, headaches and morning grogginess.
Physical complications include possible obesity, risk of heart disease and/or diabetes, high blood pressure, and circadian rhythm disorder.
Some of the psychological complications of insomnia are: lower performance, risk of depression, slowed reaction time, and risk of anxiety disorder.
LENGTH OF SLEEP
How much you sleep can even affect your mortality. It appears that the optimum amount of sleep is about seven hours. Those who slept about seven hours per night had the lowest mortality rates. More sleep – eight hours or more each night increased the mortality rate by 15%. That rate of loss was also found in those who slept three and a half hours or less per night. A loss in mortality was also found in those who took sleeping pills.
Poor sleep quality can also be a complication of insomnia. Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep) may be the cause, or clinical depression can contribute to poor sleep quality as well. Persons experiencing poor sleep quality do not reach delta, or stage 4 sleep, also known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the most restorative of the sleep stages. Sleepers do not always remember waking up frequently in the night, but they may experience increased sleepiness during the day. Poor sleep quality can also be a result of excessive cortisol in the body. Having to get up in the night to urinate will certainly disturb sleep.