Insomnia and other sleep disorders. Causes and consequences of sleep disturbance. How to overcome insomnia?
Things, career, emotions – I so want to have more time, go everywhere and try everything! But time is so short, where to get the extra hour?
Of course you can tear yourself from sleep! This solution looks so simple and logical. Insomnia, insomnia, sleep disorders … do we think about it when there is so much interesting around?
I recall the record from the Guinness Book of Records, which was set by Robert McDonalds – the man did not sleep for 19 days! Randy Gardner, a schoolboy who did not close his eyes for 11 days, can compete with him. It is noteworthy that then the boy slept only 13 hours, and not a few days, as one might suggest. After such stories, it seems that evening work, a small get-together, or several episodes in a row of your favorite series instead of sleep will certainly not do any harm.
However, is that so? Can these innocent habits lead to sleep disturbances? Or is this another invention, and the problem of insomnia is easy to solve, is it only worth getting tired more? Let’s figure it out!
Sleep is like a dove: if you don’t touch it, it flies up to you; if you want to catch, he will fly away. ” Pene Diboyce.
Hearing about insomnia, many people think that we are talking about a complete lack of sleep. But it is not so. According to the international classification of diseases, sleep disturbance is defined as a deficiency in both the quality and quantity of sleep. That is, there is a dream, but the “sleep-wake” cycle fails. Depending on which phase is disturbed, the problem can be divided into 3 main types.
Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders are divided into presomnic, intrasomnic and postsomnic.
Subdominant sleep disorders
They are characterized by painful and prolonged falling asleep. A person changes position, tossing and turning in bed, but does not find a comfortable position in any way to fall into a dream. This can last up to several hours. While the normal period of falling asleep is considered 4-10 minutes.
Intrasomnic Sleep Disorders
Manifested in violation of the depth and duration of sleep. The dream is superficial; any quiet sound can interrupt it. A person can also wake up from nightmares, nightly fears, involuntary movements, physiological impulses. Back falling asleep occurs with great difficulty.
Postcommunic Sleep Disorders
Difficulties are associated with impaired awakening, the speed of awakening, as well as lack of vigor in the morning. A person cannot open his eyes, it is difficult for him to tear his head from the pillow. After a night of rest, he feels weak and tired. Daytime apathy alternates with fatigue. However, when trying to sleep, nothing comes out.
Thus, any subjective complaints related to dissatisfaction from night sleep can be considered a violation.
According to statistics, people of advanced age suffer from insomnia much more often. This is due to the emergence of new somatic and mental diseases. Nevertheless, absolutely all age categories are affected by sleep disorders: the vast majority of adults have experienced sleep problems at least once in their life.
Among those who suffer from this disorder, the female gender predominates – this is explained by greater anxiety. Among women carrying a child, the majority suffer from insomnia – here physiology plays a major role. Often, children experience problems with sleep.
Causes of Sleep Disorders
The causes of sleep disturbances can be both external and internal.
Perhaps emotional overstrain takes first place among the causes that disturb sleep. This includes a state of stress, anxiety, anxiety, intense mental activity in the afternoon, overwork, including from overly positive and negative emotions. Together, or separately, it can harm the quality of night rest.
Poor sleeping conditions
Bad sleeping conditions: annoying sounds, noise, knocking, light, flickering, uncomfortable room temperature, restless environment, uncomfortable bed. Of course, there will never be ideal sleep conditions. However, external irritants can seriously undermine the ability to fall asleep.
Circadian rhythm disturbance
Night shifts, working with an uncomfortable schedule, flights, moving, changing time zones. Single events will not bring harm, however, acquiring a permanent basis, they can seriously damage the quality of night rest.
Depression, anxiety, neurosis, schizophrenia, obsessive states. An overstressed psyche simply does not have time to relax, which exacerbates the condition and closes the vicious circle.
The use of sleeping pills, tranquilizers and psychoactive substances: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, psychostimulants, drugs. Such habits very often provoke chronic insomnia. Find out how alcohol and drugs affect our body.
Somatic diseases and damage to organs and systems
Diseases of the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, urinary, respiratory and other systems, as well as diseases accompanied by pain. Often, these diseases occur in conjunction with a suppressed emotional state, and therefore require an integrated approach to solving.
Classification of sleep disorders by reason and duration
Depending on the complexity and depth of the causes, insomnia can be divided by duration.
Allocate transient, short-term and chronic forms.
The transient form is also called transient, lasts about seven days. This type appears, as a rule, against the background of emotional overstrain. Due to the fact that the problem is short-lived, it does not pose a great danger to human health, therefore, it does not require special treatment. It is only important to understand and get rid of the factor that provokes it.
The short-term form lasts longer – from a week to a month. In this case, the patient has more pronounced sleep disturbances. This affects his general well-being, appearance and health. With this problem, you need to determine the exact cause of its occurrence; for this, you may need to consult a doctor who will offer treatment methods.
The chronic form lasts from a month or longer. The patient has obvious changes both in behavior and in a subjective attitude to sleep. He is tormented by numerous psychological and somatic factors, which further exacerbates the situation. With this form of insomnia, it is impossible to be treated independently in any case. Seek professional help immediately.
Why is insomnia dangerous? The effects of insomnia on the body
What threatens insomnia? If the body does not receive proper rest, it is depleted. Exhaustion leads to the emergence of numerous diseases, which over time become chronic. This affects almost all of its systems.
When a person does not sleep for more than a day, he becomes more irritable, the concentration of attention decreases, lethargy, loss of strength appears. The first signs of lack of sleep are easy to notice with the naked eye: blue circles and swelling under the eyes indicate a violation of blood and lymph circulation. Facial skin tarnishes, loses a healthy color and elasticity, wrinkles are formed.
Many people know well by personal example that insomnia provokes an increase in appetite. The longer a person does not sleep, the more uncontrolled his desire to consume food can become. Especially often, the choice is made in favor of high-carb foods, which, as a result, leads to weight gain and obesity. Find out which foods are good for your table.
Without enough sleep, immunity is reduced. The functions that the cellular composition of the immune system performs in a dream – the renewal, the formation of new immunoglobulins, cytokines, T-lymphocytes, is impaired. This means that the body becomes defenseless against viral and bacteriological infections. Watch your sleepy friends – many of them get sick almost constantly.
Weakened immunity leads to hormonal disruptions. And this, in turn, contributes to the occurrence of diabetes mellitus, a decrease in muscle volume and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. With a lack of sleep, even the slightest effort causes an increase in blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat.
According to numerous studies, reproductive health is also declining. In men suffering from various sleep disorders, spermogram and libido are worse. In women, the menstrual cycle is disrupted, ovulation stops, the endometrium becomes thinner due to hormonal changes.
In chronic insomnia, the fight against atypical (cancerous) cells is significantly weakened, which increases the possibility of developing tumors, especially colorectal adenoma (precancer).
The increased load on all internal organs, frequent diseases lead to exacerbation of existing chronic diseases. The duration and quality of life are reduced.
But that’s not all! Swedish scientists say night without sleep is comparable in its effects to a concussion. At the same time, the reason for insomnia does not matter – whether it is insomnia due to ailments, or instead of a night of sleep, you prefer entertainment at the club, or work on a night shift – all this will be equivalent to damage to health.
Slow reactions, difficulties in maintaining concentration and inability to concentrate, lead to a decrease in working capacity and learning ability. Such a person is subject to sudden mood swings and depressive states.
Insomnia and cognitive ability
How do sleep disorders affect cognitive abilities? The lack of quality sleep and rest leads to a deterioration in the functioning of the central nervous system. Mental disorders and neuroses are aggravated, which is a great threat to further intellectual safety. There was evidence that insomnia leads to organic brain damage, a decrease in emotional and cognitive functions.
Some people suffering from insomnia may have problems activating brain regions involved in working or working memory, said researcher Sean Drummond, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
“We conducted a simple experiment investigating the activity of the brain. About 50 people took part in it – half of them suffered from insomnia. But they did not have any other diseases, for example, mental health problems. The other half of the participants had no difficulties either with sleep or with health in general. We found that subjects with insomnia felt that they had to work harder to do the same job as a person with healthy sleep, ”says the scientist.
The study showed that for people suffering from insomnia, even small complications of tasks were given more and more difficult and required large expenditures of energy resources.
“The data obtained allows us to understand that people with insomnia not only experience sleep problems at night, but their brain does not work efficiently during the day,” Drummond concluded.
And this is easy to understand: brain nerve cells exhausted by lack of sleep are not able to hold the proper amount of information and work at the right level. Creative and professional abilities also worsen – after a month insomnia, once gifted people can hardly cope with simple tasks. If the situation does not change, then over time they will degrade, and little remains of past abilities.
How to overcome insomnia?
How to deal with insomnia? In order to prevent serious consequences, it is worth taking preventive measures at the first sign of insomnia. An integrated approach is needed here. First of all, it is important to start with sleep hygiene.
Rules for Sleep
- Going to bed should be at about the same time, no later than 23-00 hours;
- Rise at 7-8 in the morning;
- Maintaining an active lifestyle in the daytime;
- Sleep in the darkness and silence;
- Comfortable bed and clothes for sleeping;
- Reception of light food without hot spices until 20-00.
- In addition, there are also various techniques aimed at quickly falling asleep.
Simple techniques for falling asleep quickly
Square Breathing Technique
This method is used by Indian yogis to calm. Having taken a comfortable position in the bed, it is necessary for 6 seconds to breathe in gently through the nose. After this, hold your breath for 7 seconds. Then there is an exhalation through the mouth for 8 seconds. This exercise reduces heart rate, which serves as a signal to the brain that it is time to fall asleep. Learn more about breathing exercises.
The essence of this exercise is to imagine how the body plunges into a mattress, merging with it into a single whole. During this exercise, there is a pleasant sensation that the body has become softer and more plastic – it relaxes the muscles and helps to immerse yourself in sleep. It may also be interesting to read about Jacobson’s method of muscle relaxation.
Another technique for phased physical relaxation is as follows. Lie in a comfortable position, relax your toes, then the calves, hips, stomach and other parts of the body in turn. Perhaps in the middle of the exercise you will fall asleep.
This exercise is ideal for those who want to distract from various negative thoughts and experiences that often cause insomnia. Lying in bed, it is necessary to open eyes for a second with a certain frequency and then close them. The pauses between blinking should be equal. Duration can be individually selected from 5 to 15 seconds. Each time, opening your eyes will be more difficult and soon a dream will come.
If your imagination is well developed, then imagine a water surface in front of you. Consider the details – waves, glare, current, or maybe you will see the bottom? Try to look at the water column or peer into the horizon. Contemplation of the water surface has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. If you want to increase the effect of the exercise, imagine that you are lying on a water surface (for example, on an air mattress). Imagine how water sways the body. Enjoy these soothing sensations while continuing to look at the details of the landscape.
Technique from the reverse
In his book “A Full Dream”, the American doctor Deepak Chopra proposed one of the methods of reverse psychology. To do this, give yourself the installation to continue to stay awake. Mentally pronounce to yourself the phrases “I do not want to sleep,” “I will not sleep all night,” “I will not fall asleep until the morning.” All this is worth doing, of course, lying in a comfortable position under the covers.
Pupil rolling technique
According to this technique, to quickly fall asleep, it is necessary to close your eyes and roll your pupils up. In this state are the eyes of a person during natural sleep. Therefore, rolling pupils up, a person quickly plunges into sleep.
How else can you fight insomnia?
In addition, it is important to start taking care of sleep. At least an hour before the rest, begin to calm down, do not touch heavy topics in conversations with relatives, do not watch news and horror films.
A great solution can be a vacation or weekend outside the city, but only if you are guaranteed peace and quiet. Active recreation with this problem is contraindicated.
Talk with your family about your desire to make a dream. Ask them to help maintain a calm atmosphere in the house at least in the evening. If this option is not available, or the experience is much deeper – it is worth asking for help from a professional psychologist.
All these methods are suitable for those whose insomnia has not developed into chronic. In this case, you should immediately seek help from a specialist. The doctor will study the issue in detail and prescribe adequate treatment.
Professional treatment of insomnia should be carried out both etiologically (that is, eliminate the disease itself) and symptomatically (eliminate insomnia).
It is built on the following principles:
- elimination of the situation that caused insomnia (stress at work, in the family);
- normalization of the rhythm of sleep-wakefulness;
- treatment of neurotic and psychotic disorders;
- diagnosis and treatment of somatic diseases;
The treatment of sleep disorders can include the use of drugs from various chemical groups – they make it easier to fall asleep, extend the duration of sleep, and reduce the number of nightly awakenings.
What can not be done with insomnia?
First of all, you can not engage in self-medication – to independently buy medicines, in the hope of curing sleep disorders. Today, many medications to treat insomnia are sold over the counter and are considered safe. However, it is worth remembering that sleeping pills have many side effects and, without consulting a doctor, can harm and cause dependence.