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Today in Health & Wellness


Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult

Insomnia is a disorder characterized by sleeplessness and sleep disturbances. It is divided generally into two main categories: sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia.

Sleep onset insomnia is the inability to fall asleep naturally. Sleep maintenance insomnia is the inability to stay asleep or to resume sleep after waking in the middle of the sleep cycle. A person may experience both sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia, which leads to both insufficient and poor sleep.

Insomnia can be categorized further as acute or chronicAcute insomnia is self-limiting, meaning it runs its course in a few weeks or months and ends without being treated. Chronic insomnia lasts longer than three months and needs to be treated.

  • Restlessness
  • Short sleep followed by wakefulness (often with frightening thoughts)
  • Periods of sleeplessness, alternating with periods of excessive sleep or sleepiness at inconvenient times
Risk Factors
  • Depression
  • Over activity of the thyroid gland
  • Daytime napping
  • Noisy environment (including a snoring partner)
  • Allergies and early-morning wheezing
  • Heart or lung conditions that cause shortness of breath when lying down
  • Painful disorders, such a fibromyositis ( characterized by stiffness of joint or muscle pain accompanied by localized inflammation of muscle) or arthritis
  • Urinary or gastrointestinal problems that require urination or bowel movements during the night
  • Consumption of stimulants, such as caffeine
  • Use of some medications, including dextroamphetamines, cortisone drugs or decongestants
  • Erratic work hours
  • New environment or location; jet lag after travel; lack of physical exercise
  • Alcoholism; drug abuse, including overuse of sleep-inducing drugs; withdrawal from addictive substances
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

Over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping aids:

  • Most OTC sleeping pills contain antihistamines that cause drowsiness.
  • Melatonin supplements


Prescription Medicine:

  • Benzodiazepines have sedative-hypnotic effects used in the treatment of short-term insomnia.
  • Non-benzodiazepine drugs act similarly to benzodiazepines but have less adverse effects, and lower risk of abuse and dependence.
Treatment and Management
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake schedule.
  • Avoid spending too much awake time in bed.
  • Avoid eating or drinking too much before bedtime.
  • Create a sleep-promoting environment that is quiet, dark, cool and comfortable.
  • Consume less or no caffeine, particularly late in the day.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime.
  • Exercise, but not within three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid naps, particularly in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Establish a regular bedtime and get up at the same time every day. Do not stay in bed to make-up for lost sleep or beyond regular rising time.
  • Keep a sleep diary to identify sleep habits and patterns.
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