Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects 3.3 million Canadians aged 15 or older, and with 18% of sufferers reporting they get less than 5 hours of sleep each night. It can be a short-term or ongoing condition. Studies have shown that insomnia affects more women than men, and it is also linked to individuals who are middle-aged, as well as those who suffer from chronic pain, stress and obesity.
In acute cases, insomnia is typically brought on by stress, certain pressures in life, or traumatic events, and can last for days or weeks at a time. In chronic cases, insomnia can last up to a month or longer, and is oftentimes a secondary symptom of other health problems, sleep disorders, or substances in the body such as certain prescription medications, alcohol, or even caffeinated beverages and tobacco – which effects can last as long as 8 hours. If left untreated, insomnia can cause a severe lack of energy, irritability, and even depression and anxiety. Other symptoms of insomnia include poor concentration, muscle aches and a decreased level of alertness.
There are some simple habits that Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests in order to avoid potential sleep disruptions – these include listening to calming music to relax, limiting your use of any distractions such as television or computers, not eating any heavy meals at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime, as well as setting a sleep schedule. Other non-medical treatments for insomnia that may be beneficial include attending cognitive behavioural therapy session (which is great for relieving stress and anxiety), meditation, and stimulus. If those are unsuccessful, medications such as benzodiazepine hypnotics and melatonin receptor agents may be prescribed, but it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of these types of medications with your physician.