Tag Archive for sleep deprivation

Understanding Insomnia

I Can't SleepWhat is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a large and important topic. Whole books are written about it. Within this article I will highlight what is most important to know about the problem and some steps towards overcoming it.

 

First of all, insomnia is more of a symptom than it is an illness. The word insomnia comes from the Latin In (not) + Somnus (sleep). It literally means “not sleeping”.

Be that as it may, most insomnia sufferers get some sleep. The problem is that the sleep is either too short or of poor quality.

Everyone experiences a sleepless night of tossing and turning once in a while. This is normal and is not outside of healthy sleep. However, when insomnia becomes a regular occurrence it is a sleep disorder. There are three categories of insomnia, ordered according to duration:

Categories of Insomnia

  • Transient Insomnia – Lasts less than a week. This type of insomnia can usually be connected with some kind of stress
  • Acute Insomnia – From one week to one month in duration. Acute insomnia does not mean the person has not slept at all for a month, but that sleep has been difficult to initiate or sustain, or that the quality of the sleep has been very poor and unrestful.
  • Chronic Insomnia – More than one month of poor sleep. Additional effects caused by long term sleep disruption may include severe muscle fatigue, aches and pains, hallucinations, lack of concentration, mental fatigue and double vision.

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Sleep Deprivation May be More Harmful than You Think

You know that kid in school who always asked detailed questions about what was required for the assignment? They wanted the teacher to tell them the least they had to do to get a passing grade. They also wanted to know how much impact that test/quiz/assignment/book report/oral report/etc. would have on their grade, so they could blow it off if it was a small assignment.

 

Many times we have a similar attitude when it comes to sleep. How little sleep can I get by on and still have a decent day? How big a deal is it if I stay up all night before a big test? Does it really matter if I consistently get less than ideal sleep?

I think most of us are aware that when we suffer through a long sleepless night of tossing and turning that we will not feel too great the next day. There are immediate consequences. However, our attitude about these may be that these consequences are just minor, surface concerns – fatigue, irritability, sore muscles and joints, stomach distress. But how important are these? And are there other concerns that are more significant? Are there any long-term health problems related to poor sleep?

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