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Home :: Neurology Disorders

Insomnia - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Chronic insomnia is regarded as the most serious; persists almost nightly for at least a month. Stress most commonly triggers short-term or acute insomnia. Certain groups are at higher risk for developing insomnia such as , travelers , shift workers, seniors, adolescent or young adult students , pregnant women and women in menopause. Sometimes perimenopausal women have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep; hot flashes and night sweats often can disturb sleep. Pregnancy also can affect how well a woman sleeps. People often use alcohol to help induce sleep, as a nightcap. However, it is a poor choice. Alcohol is associated with sleep disruption and creates a sense of nonrefreshed sleep in the morning. Common stimulants associated with poor sleep include caffeine and nicotine. Insomnia symptoms may include is difficulty falling asleep at night ,waking up during the night ,waking up too early and daytime irritability. Some antidepressants such as mirtazapine , trazodone and doxepin have a sedative effect, and are prescribed off label to treat insomnia. Avoid or limit your use of caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate), decongestants, alcohol and tobacco.

Causes of Insomnia

Common Causes and Risk factors of Insomnia

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Stress.
  • Certain medications.
  • Alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Head injury.
  • Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures.

Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

Common Sign and Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night.
  • Waking up during the night.
  • Waking up too early.
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness.
  • Difficulty with memory.
  • Daytime irritability.
  • Poor concentration and focus.

Treatment for Insomnia

Common Treatment for Insomnia

  • Some antidepressants such as mirtazapine , trazodone and doxepin have a sedative effect, and are prescribed off label to treat insomnia.
  • Pomegranates are also believed to help insomniacs sleep.
  • Benzodiazepines are tranquillisers and are designed to reduce anxiety and promote calmness, relaxation and sleep.
  • Hypnotic medicines should only be used in cases when the expected period of treatment will be short term. 
  • Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day.
  • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine has included treatment for insomnia.
  • Using aromatherapy , including jasmine oil, lavender oil , Mahabhringaraj and other relaxing essential oils , may also help induce a state of restfulness.