“If I fall asleep now, I will have had 5 hours of sleep”.

“If I fall asleep now, I will have had 3 hours of sleep”.

“If I fall asleep now, I will have had an hour and a half. I am going to be so tired tomorrow!”

If you have trouble falling asleep, you may have wondered if you have Insomnia. Roughly 80% of people across India have confessed to feeling sleepy at work 1-3 days a week, and 16% of those believe they have insomnia.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. People with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or both. They can feel unsatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: low energy, fatigue, mood disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and decreased performance at work.

What are the types of Insomnia?

Insomnia is characterized based on its duration.

  • Acute insomnia is brief and occurs because of circumstances in life (stress, trauma, travel, etc). This is a passing sleep disorder and usually resolves without any treatment.
  • Chronic insomnia, by definition, is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. Chronic insomnia can have many causes like changes in the environment, shift work, unhealthy sleep habits. Certain medications can also lead to a long-term pattern of insufficient sleep. Chronic insomnia can sometimes be linked to another medical or psychiatric issue.

In Asia, India has the highest prevalence of chronic Insomnia. Roughly 9% Indians are reportedly suffering from chronic Insomnia.

What are the consequences of Insomnia?

People with insomnia tend to have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or they wake up too early in the morning. Chronic Insomnia is associated with

  • physiological health problems like diabetes, obesity, stroke, seizures, inflammation, and heart diseases
  • mental health disorders like anxiety and depression
  • shortened life expectancy
  • increased risk of accidents

Is Insomnia Curable?

It is not uncommon to have insomnia from time to time. Acute insomnia resolves by itself and may not require medical attention. The right time to see a doctor about insomnia is when it starts affecting life negatively. Treatment for insomnia can include behavioral, psychological, and medical components.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, also known as CBT, is currently considered the most effective program for treating chronic insomnia. It helps the patients identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause and maintain sleep problems, and also nurture long-term habits to promote healthy sound sleep.

Mindful Meditation, according to Harvard studies, is another very effective practice in fighting insomnia and improving sleep. It is a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness meditation evokes a deep relaxation response from the body that reduces fatigue, restlessness and fights insomnia and depression.

Future blogs in this series will broaden the topic to understand the ideal lifestyle choices to prevent and deal with insomnia.