Chronic insomnia: causes, treatment and prevention

Chronic insomnia is a disorder characterized by the inability to fall asleep, maintain sleep, or achieve restful sleep.. It is estimated that this health problem affects about 15% of the world’s population, being more prevalent among the elderly.

The associated effects are very limiting and affect quality of life. While it is true that we have all suffered from occasional insomnia due to stress, anxiety, worries or as a result of some disease, the real problem lies in the moment in which this reality becomes chronic.

Hernando Pérez Díaz, coordinator of the Sleep group of the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN) tells us something interesting about this. As we are an aging society, sleep disturbances will be more and more frequent. However, not all patients can be treated equally. We analyze it below.

Why does chronic insomnia appear?

Sherlock Holmes said in one of those adventures created by Arthur Conan Doyle that sleep is the solution to all problems. There was no shortage of reason, as getting a good night’s sleep relieves tiredness and, in turn, clears the mind and allows us to see things more clearly.

Sleeping badly and suffering from a sleep disorder completely alters our physical and psychological well-being. So, one thing we need to know first is that chronic insomnia always has a cause behind it.

Most of the time it responds to some disease or lifestyle factor. Educationas shown by those carried out at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore (India). Patients with chronic insomnia have an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

These people are also at greater risk of being injured in road traffic or at work, due to problems with attention and concentration. It is imperative, therefore, that you seek expert help.

Man with chronic insomnia.
Our lifestyle, diet and some associated diseases are usually at the origin of chronic insomnia.

Symptoms of chronic insomnia

Chronic insomnia can be defined as one that lasts longer than three months. and which can persist for years. There are times when she disappears to come back later. It’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t just affect your night’s sleep. Its effects are also seen during the day and are as follows:

  • The person has difficulty falling asleep.
  • He suffers from constant awakenings.
  • Ends up getting up very early.
  • when you get up He feels like he hasn’t rested at all.
  • He suffers from drowsiness during the day.
  • You have trouble concentrating.
  • Has troubleshooting issues and make decisions.
  • Memory errors occur.
  • You suffer from irritability, depression or anxiety.
  • The sleep problem becomes a constant.

Causes behind chronic insomnia

The origin of insomnia is usually a complex combination of medical, psychological and personal factors.. Science distinguishes two types of disorder. On the one hand it would be the primary, whose origin is unknown, although the possibility that there may be alterations in the neurotransmitters. There are instead the secondary factors, which respond to the following causes that we organize into lists.

medical conditions

  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Heart problems.
  • fibromyalgia.
  • Menopause.
  • Restless legs syndrome.
  • Gastric reflux.
  • Changes in the thyroid.
  • Parkinsons.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Take some medications.

Psychological issues, psychological problems

life habits

  • Sedentary life.
  • Tobacco.
  • Excessive use of electronic devices and screens.
  • Do shift work.
  • Not having good sleep hygiene.
  • Take daily naps.

What treatments are there for chronic insomnia?

Treatment for chronic insomnia will always depend on the cause. For this reason, we must consult a good specialist so that they carry out the relevant tests. As a general rule, the following treatments are used:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: before resorting to drugs Scientific studies specify that it is advisable to resort to this type of therapy. Thanks to it we work on worries, control stimuli to promote good rest, establish new routines and habits, manage stress.
  • Relaxation techniques: breathing exercises, yoga, guided meditation, or Jacobson’s progressive relaxation are suitable.
  • Sleep hygiene practices: To combat chronic insomnia, it is very appropriate for the person to learn sleep hygiene practices, such as taking care of routines, schedules, no naps, following diet and exercise. They are also taught to take care of environmental factors, such as the light in the room where they sleep, noise, temperature and the mattress.
  • Pharmacotherapy: In some cases, drugs such as zolpidem or eszopiclone will be used when the doctor deems it appropriate.
Woman sleeping and avoiding chronic insomnia.
Cognitive therapy is very suitable for reducing the effect of chronic insomnia. The drugs are reserved for medical prescription.

insomnia prevention

Can insomnia be prevented? The answer is yes. While it is true that sometimes certain medical conditions such as menopause, diabetes or gastric reflux can affect our sleep at night, we can always put something on our side.

These would be some keys:

  • Have a regular schedule: Try to get up and go to bed at the same time.
  • It is advisable to learn how to manage daily stress.
  • It can be very helpful for us to exercise half an hour a day.
  • We turn off our electronic devices two hours before going to bed.
  • We avoid caffeine at the end of the day.
  • The room where we sleep should not be exposed to noise. The temperature, for its part, should be between 19 and 21 ºC.

To conclude, good rest is an essential pillar of mental and psychological health. We seek expert help when we start to notice insomnia appearing regularly over a 2 to 3 week period. Let’s prevent this problem from becoming chronic.

The post Chronic insomnia: causes, treatment and prevention appeared for the first time in research-school.



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