Information on insomnia

Here is some basic information on insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by problems in a person’s sleeping patterns and can affect people differently. Some people have problems falling asleep at night which is called by some doctors and physicians as sleep on-set insomnia. Other people fall asleep but wake up after only a few hours and have problems going back to sleep. Still others fall asleep easily, but their sleep pattern is not one that goes through the entire cycle of sleep. This is often referred to as sleep maintenance insomnia.

To better understand this fairly common sleep disorder and the effects of insomnia on a person’s body, we must first learn about sleep and better understand why sleep is so necessary to a healthy life.
Sleep is the period of time when the body appears to repair the damage that has occurred during the awake periods. The study of sleep is relatively new and what sleep does for the body is not entirely understood but researchers do have many theories and they do know that people can go longer without food than without sleep. In studies with mice deprived of sleep versus mice deprived of food, the sleep deprived mice die faster.

Deprivation of sleep first affects the brain, so theories are that the brain needs to rest so as to recharge itself or reorganize data and needs to rid itself of waste products. Subjects kept awake for days begin to have hallucinations, are unable to concentrate, have problems forming memories, and develop other mental problems.

There are 5 stages of sleep. Stage 1 is a very light sleep when all body systems begin slowing down but the person can still be awoken easily. Stage 2 is a period where eye movement stops and brain waves begin to slow down. Stage 3 is when brain activity slows down even more and the slowest brain waves called delta waves sporadically appear. In stage 4, the brain waves are almost totally delta waves. Stages 3 and 4 are called deep sleep and it is difficult to wake a person during stage 4. Stage 5 is called REM sleep and during this stage everything changes. Breathing becomes rapid, there are rapid eye movements and this is when subjects dream. Researchers believe that quality sleep is when a person goes through four or five sleep cycles during a night.

Sometimes insomnia is actually a symptom of another medical problem such as depression, chronic stress or anxiety, heart disease, sleep apnea, menopause or diabetes, so it’s important to see a doctor if you are having trouble sleeping.

If insomnia only occurs time to time, it is commonly referred to as intermittent insomnia. This is the type of insomnia that occurs when a person is traveling or is just worried about a temporary problem. When insomnia last for a period of 3 weeks to six months it is classified as acute insomnia. Insomnia which last from months to years is classified as chronic insomnia and health problems that are believed to be caused by chronic insomnia are many and vary from fibromyalgia to obesity and can even be fatal. Experts believe that chronic insomnia is a greater mortality risk than smoking, high blood pressure and heart disease.

For further information about insomnia – there are many wonderful sites on the internet with ideas and solutions to insomnia.