Sleeping problems effect somewhere between 10 – 18% of the adult population. Sleeping problems include the following: insomnia, sleep apnea, movement syndromes and in rare cases, narcolepsy. This article will focus on the various types of insomnia, and what causes & aggravates it. Insomnia Insomnia is a too-oft ignored mental health and medical issue. Dr. Dan […]
Sleeping problems effect somewhere between 10 – 18% of the adult population. Sleeping problems include the following: insomnia, sleep apnea, movement syndromes and in rare cases, narcolepsy. This article will focus on the various types of insomnia, and what causes & aggravates it.
Insomnia is a too-oft ignored mental health and medical issue. Dr. Dan Blazer of the Duke University Medical Center, said, “Insomnia may predispose people to anxiety and depression, just as anxiety and depression may predispose people to insomnia.” Additionally, people with insomnia are more likely to have medical issues, and people with medical issues are more likely to suffer from insomnia. The four major types of insomnia are:
(a) Can’t fall asleep (initiation)
(b) Wake up in middle of the night (maintenance)
(c) Sleep isn’t restful or restorative (quality)
(d) Can’t get enough sleep (duration)
Just having one of these symptoms means that one has insomnia; if someone has two or more of these symptoms, then their insomnia is more pervasive and debilitating. Insomnia effects people in three different time categories: transient (lasts less than a week); short term (one to four weeks); and chronic (more than a month). Transient and short term insomnia are often caused by temporary sickness, stress, jet lag or a schedule change. They tend to work themselves out. The major concern here is chronic insomnia.
Chronic insomnia can be caused by the following:
(1) Adjustmental insomnia
(triggered by current stress). There are many kinds of adjustmental stressors that can cause insomnia. Work, academic, familial, financial, romantic and medical concerns can all lead to difficulties in falling asleep (initiation) or staying asleep (duration).
(2) Due to substance use/withdrawal
(alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, marijuana, stimulants, prescription drugs and opiates). Use of caffeine, nicotine or stimulants will cause people to stay up later and have a difficult time falling asleep. Alcohol, stimulant, opiate and other prescription drug use/abuse can cause sleep problems that last for years. People who use/abuse alcohol may have no problem falling asleep, but they may find that they wake up in the middle of the night (maintenance) or that they don’t sleep long enough (duration).
One of the major signs of marijuana dependence is that people need it to fall asleep, or that they have trouble sleeping if they attempt to cut down or quit. Completely quitting caffeine or nicotine can effect sleep for up to two weeks (it will be longer if one just cuts down). Quitting any of the other substances (stimulants, prescription drugs, opiates, marijuana, alcohol) can cause or exacerbate insomnia for two months or more.
(3) Due to medical condition.
They include, but are not limited to: heart problems, cancer, dementia, heartburn, diabetes, prostate problems, dental problems, gastrointestinal problems, allergies, colds and/or the flu. Medical problems and insomnia often exist together and serve to make the other worse over time. It is a vicious, downward cycle.
(4) Due to psychiatric disorder
(especially anxiety, PTSD, depression and bio-polar disorder). Chronic insomnia effects at least: 25% of kids with ADHD, 50% of people with generalized anxiety disorder, 65% of adults with depression and 70% of adults with bi-polar disorder. The major findings on the Harvard Medical School’s website regarding sleep and psychiatric issues are:
- Sleep problems are more likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population.
- Sleep problems may increase risk for developing particular mental illnesses, as well as result from such disorders.
- Treating the sleep disorder may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problems.
(5) Inadequate sleep hygiene (poor habits before sleep).
Failing to have a standard sleep schedule and routine is one of the most common contributors to poor sleep. Additionally exposure to light disrupts natural sleep rhythms. Using computers, being on cell phones, or watching television late at night can all disrupt the sleep cycle. This can make falling asleep very difficult.
What Do I Do
If you or a loved one are struggling with sleep please review the other articles we have provided on this website. Sleep is very important to overall healthy functioning. If you or a loved one are struggling with sleep due to substance use please do not hesitate to contact us here at NJFAI.