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A Concise Guide to Understanding Insomnia

Moraga, CA

Sleep stands as an integral aspect of human survival. In the absence of sleep, the human brain is incapable of performing efficiently. Without rest, individuals are also susceptible to illness and weight gain. However, addressing the necessity of sleep poses a significant challenge: how do individuals manage sleep disorders? One of the various sleep disorders is insomnia. Insomnia manifests as the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or enjoy restful sleep, irrespective of environmental conditions or the time of day. The impact of this disorder on sleep permeates every aspect of life, jeopardizing both physical and mental well-being.  


When examining insomnia, it's essential to consider its diverse classifications. Chronic insomnia signifies persistent sleep disturbances lasting a month or longer, while acute insomnia encompasses shorter episodes spanning from a single day to several weeks. Furthermore, comorbid insomnia emerges as a secondary effect of another underlying condition, onset insomnia denotes difficulty falling asleep, and maintenance insomnia involves struggles with staying asleep. Chronic insomnia is often attributed to unpredictable physical stimulation. Contributing factors include anxiety, disrupted sleep patterns, poor dietary habits, and drug usage. However, acute insomnia is often triggered by personal stressors such as death or marital issues. Despite numerous potential causes, the primary cause of insomnia remains elusive.  


Unfortunately, those grappling with insomnia are significantly impacted by the condition. Insufficient sleep diminishes the brain's ability to regulate emotions and memories, as the amygdala, involved in emotional responses, becomes overactive, heightening immediate emotional reactions. Furthermore, the prefrontal cortex, responsible for moderating these responses, experiences impairment, resulting in impulsiveness and erratic conduct. Hormonal balance is also disrupted, with cortisol, the stress hormone, escalating due to sleep deprivation. Heightened cortisol levels perpetuate a continuous state of stress in the body, exacerbating mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, physical medical conditions insomniacs may endure include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma, seizures, and a weak immune system.   


Various strategies are available to manage insomnia. Implementing a consistent sleep routine, which involves engaging in calming activities such as reading or practicing yoga before bedtime, can promote better sleep quality. Additionally, individuals with insomnia can enhance their chances of falling asleep by avoiding stimulants like caffeine, strenuous physical activity, and heavy meals before bedtime. Another option to alleviate insomnia is melatonin, an over-the-counter dietary supplement that naturally interacts with receptors in the body to promote sleep. Medications such as zolpidem, zaleplon, and ramelteon may also be prescribed to address insomnia, although they carry the risk of side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness. Seeking medical advice is crucial, especially if insomnia significantly impacts daily functioning. 


To conclude, insomnia's effects extend beyond sleep quality, impacting physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. Disrupted emotions, memory, and hormonal balance are common, leading to increased stress and susceptibility to mood disorders. Proactive strategies such as maintaining a sleep schedule, avoiding stimulants, trying melatonin, and consulting healthcare professionals offer pathways to relief. By prioritizing sleep health and embracing comprehensive management approaches, individuals can improve sleep quality and overall well-being. 


 
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Works Cited 


“Common Questions about Melatonin.” Nhs.uk, 23 Feb. 2023, www.nhs.uk/medicines/melatonin/common-questions-about-melatonin/#:~:text=It%20helps%20control%20your%20sleep. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.


O’Connell, Krista. “Insomnia: Health Effects, Factors, and Diagnosis.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/health/insomnia-concerns. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.


“Sleep and Mental Health: Why Our Brains Need Sleep.” Primary Care Collaborative, May 2019, thepcc.org/resource/sleep-and-mental-health-why-our-brains-need-sleep. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.


Suni, Eric, and Anis Rehman. “Insomnia.” Sleep Foundation, 4 Sept. 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

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