First things first: Insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. Now that we have got that common misconception out of the way, let’s find out more about this sleep complaint that’s widely prevalent in Singapore,
What’s counted as Insomnia?
Insomnia can mean all kinds of sleep problems. These include having difficulty falling asleep, easily disrupted sleep, multiple spontaneous awakenings, and inability to naturally fall back asleep. Namely, it is a perception that sleep quality is not sufficient, despite given the perfect opportunity to sleep. When an insomniac visits a doctor, the condition is usually classified by their duration:
1)Transient insomnia – lasts up to 1 week, sometimes also referred to as an “adjustment sleep disorder”.
2)Short-term insomnia – lasts for 1 to 6 months.
3)Chronic insomnia – lasts up to 6 months or more.
Insomnia is associated with a large variety of medical, psychiatric and sleep disorders.
Defining what you mean by insomnia is essential, since the timing of insomnia is important in determining its etiology (causes).
Restricted from the land of Nod
It’s easy to figure out the physical causes; tiredness, irritability, lethargy, and the emotional causes; anxiety and stress. What most people don’t know are these:
Sleep is a very basic human need that appears to be a fundamental process, yet the mechanism and reason why we sleep is extensively researched and but still not fully understood.
By definition, sleep is a temporary, reversible state off “perceptual disengagement from the environment”. It is believed to be behavioural, since many of us have different sleep requirements, patterns, cycles and habits.
The average human spends about 5 to 8 hours per day sleeping. That’s roughly one-third of the day, which amounts up to 26 years throughout an entire lifetime (with the current life expectancy of 80 years old)! For some, it can go all the way up to 10 hours a day, while others can get by with just 4 hours. An adult should sleep between 7 to 8 hours on weekdays, and then use the weekends to catch up on sleep.
Children, however, seem to require much more rest than grownups. Toddlers between 1 and 3 years of age need up to 13 hours of sleep at night, and that is excluding a nap in the afternoon. Preschoolers sleep about 10 to 12 hours, schooling children 8 to 10 hours, and for preteens, 9 hours.
In older age groups, insomnia is often associated with problems with sleep and daytime napping.
There is considerable evidence linking melatonin, produced by the pineal gland, with the sleep-wake cycle. When melatonin is administered orally, it enhances sleep and provides deeper and more natural sleep. Circulating melatonin concentrations decrease in old age, and its time of secretion is delayed.
As one ages, the amount of melatonin produced in the brain decreases significantly. This is why grandma might get tired by 9pm, falls asleep but wakes up at 1am, not being able to get back to sleep again till 4am.
Catch some Zzz’s
Here’s a Sleep Hygiene to-do list to help you doze off:
And here’s what not to do.
In this modern hectic society, everyone is bound to suffer from insomnia to a certain degree at some point of our lives. As long as you watch your diet, exercise regularly and stay healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just don’t let the bedbugs bite!
Health & fitness