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, | ICD9 = , , , | ICDO = | OMIM = | MedlinePlus = | eMedicineSubj = med | eMedicineTopic = 2698 | MeshID = D007319 | Insomnia is a sleeping disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite the opportunity. It is typically followed by functional impairment while awake. Insomniacs have been known to complain about being unable to close their eyes or "rest their mind" for more than a few minutes at a time. Both organic and non-organic insomnia constitute a sleep disorder.According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men.
Types of Insomnia At least three types of insomnia exist: transient, acute, and chronic.
#Transient insomnia lasts from days to weeks. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, or by stress. Its consequences - sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance - are similar to those of sleep deprivation. If this form of insomnia continues to occur from time to time, the insomnia is classified as intermittent.
#Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of between three weeks to six months.
#Chronic insomnia lasts from months to years. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include sleepiness, muscular fatigue, and/or mental fatigue; but people with chronic insomnia often show increased alertness.
Causes Insomnia can be caused by:
Diagnosis Patients with delayed sleep phase syndrome are often mis-diagnosed with insomnia. If the patient has trouble getting to sleep, but has normal sleep architecture once asleep, a circadian rhythm disorder is a more likely cause.
Insomnia Versus Poor Sleep Quality Poor sleep quality can occur as a result of sleep apnea or major depression. Poor sleep quality is caused by the individual not reaching stage 4 or delta sleep which has restorative properties. There are, however, people who are unable to achieve stage 4 sleep due to brain damage who still lead perfectly normal lives.
Treatment for Insomnia In many cases, insomnia is caused by another disease or psychological problem. In this case, medical or psychological help may be useful.
MedicationsMany insomniacs rely on sleeping tablets and other sedatives to get rest. All sedative drugs have the potential of causing psychological dependence where the individual cannot psychologically accept that they can sleep without drugs. Certain classes of sedatives such as benzodiazepines and newer nonbenzodiazepine drugs can also cause physical dependence which manifests in withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not carefully titrated down.In comparing the options, a systematic review found that benzodiazepines and nonbenzodiazepines have similar efficacy which was insignificantly more than for antidepressants. Benzodiazepines had an insignificant tendency for more adverse drug reactions.
BenzodiazepinesThe most commonly used class of hypnotics prescribed for insomnia are the benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines bind unselectively to the GABAA receptor. This includes drugs such as temazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, flurazepam, nitrazepam and midazolam. These medications can develop tolerance and dependence, especially after consistent usage over long periods of time.
Non-benzodiazepinesNonbenzodiazepine prescription drugs, including the nonbenzodiazepines zolpidem and zopiclone, are more selective for the GABAA receptor and may have a cleaner side effect profile than the older benzodiazepines; however, there are controversies over whether these non-benzodiazepine drugs are superior to benzodiazepines. These drugs appear to cause both psychological dependence and physical dependence, and can also cause the same memory and cognitive disturbances as the benzodiazepines along with morning sedation.
AntidepressantsSome antidepressants such as mirtazapine, trazodone and doxepin have a sedative effect, and are prescribed off label to treat insomnia. The major drawback of these drugs is that they have antihistaminergic, anticholinergic and antiadrenergic properties which can lead to many side effects. Some also alter sleep architecture.
MelatoninMelatonin has proved effective for some insomniacs in regulating the sleep/waking cycle, but lacks definitive data regarding efficacy in the treatment of insomnia. Melatonin agonists, including Ramelteon (Rozerem), seem to lack the potential for abuse and dependence. This class of drugs has a relatively mild side effect profile and lower likelihood of causing morning sedation.
AntihistaminesThe antihistamine diphenhydramine is widely used in nonprescription sleep aids, with a 50 mg recommended dose mandated by the FDA. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other countries, a 50 to 100 mg recommended dose is permitted. While it is available over the counter, the effectiveness of these agents may decrease over time and the incidence of next-day sedation is higher than for most of the newer prescription drugs. Dependence does not seem to be an issue with this class of drugs.
Atypical AntipsychoticsLow doses of certain atypical antipsychotics such as quetiapine (Seroquel) are also prescribed for their sedative effect but the danger of neurological and cognitive side effects make these drugs a poor choice to treat insomnia.
Other SubstancesSome insomniacs use herbs such as valerian, chamomile, lavender, hops, and passion-flower. Valerian has undergone multiple studies and appears to be modestly effective. Cannabis has also been suggested as a very effective treatment for insomnia. http://www.cannabis.net/medical-marijuana/pot-docs.html Alcohol may have sedative properties, but the REM sleep suppressing effects of the drug prevent restful, quality sleep. Middle-of-the-night awakenings due to polyuria or other effects from alcohol consumption are common, and hangovers can also lead to morning grogginess. Insomnia may be a symptom of magnesium deficiency, or lower magnesium levels. A healthy diet containing magnesium, can help to improve sleep in individuals without an adequate intake of magnesium.Other reports cite the use of an elixir of cider vinegar and honey but the evidence for this is only anecdotal.
Cognitive behavior therapyRecent research has shown that cognitive behavior therapy can be more effective than medication in controlling insomnia. In this therapy, patients are taught improved sleep habits and relieved of counter-productive assumptions about sleep.
Complementary and Alternative medicineSome traditional remedies for insomnia have included drinking warm milk before bedtime, taking a warm bath in the evening; exercising vigorously for half an hour in the afternoon, eating a large lunch and then having only a light evening meal at least three hours before bed, avoiding mentally stimulating activities in the evening hours, and making sure to get up early in the morning and to retire to bed at a reasonable hour.Using aromatherapy, including jasmine oil, lavender oil, Mahabhringaraj and other relaxing essential oils, may also help induce a state of restfulness. Horlicks is marketed as a sleeping aid.Many believe that listening to slow paced music will help insomniacs fall asleep. The more relaxed a person is, the greater the likelihood of getting a good night's sleep. Relaxation techniques such as meditation have been shown to help people sleep. Such techniques can lower stress levels from both the mind and body, which leads to a deeper, more restful sleep. Traditional Chinese medicine has included treatment for insomnia. A typical approach may utilize acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle analysis, herbology and other techniques, with the goal of resolving the problem at a subtle level. In the Buddhist tradition, people suffering from insomnia or nightmares may be advised to meditate on "loving-kindness", or metta. This practice of generating a feeling of love and goodwill is claimed to have a soothing and calming effect on the mind and body. This is claimed to stem partly from the creation of relaxing positive thoughts and feelings, and partly from the pacification of negative ones. In the Mettā (Mettanisamsa) Sutta, Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, tells the gathered monks that easeful sleep is one benefit of this form of meditation.Hypnotherapy, self hypnosis and guided imagery can be effective in not only falling asleep and staying asleep; they can also help to develop good sleeping habits over time. Visualizing can be effective in taking the mind away from present day anxieties and towards a more relaxing place.
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