Insomnia Treatments and Efficacy
By: Holly Sandoval
PSY 101: Introduction to Psychology
Dr. Carrie Natale
November 5, 2012
Insomnia Treatments and Efficacy
Insomnia is a medical condition that affects millions of people all over the nation. In fact, 48% of Americans admit to having occasional bouts of insomnia and 22% report suffering from insomnia every night or every other night. (National Sleep Foundation, 2011) So why are Americans so sleepless? There are many known causes of insomnia, though some cases remain unexplained. In this paper insomnia will be explored; its causes, treatments, efficacy of those treatments and what further research should be considered.
The known causes of insomnia fall into five generalized groups; health related issues, medication, lifestyle, psychological issues and issues related to aging. Not all cases of insomnia will fall into one of these categories. There are times when an individual can suffer from insomnia with no clearly defined reason why. Here, each condition under each category will be defined and discussed. The first category up is health related issues.
The health related issues that can cause insomnia include; breathing problems, chronic pain, frequent urination, diseases affecting the nervous system and diseases affecting the metabolism. Breathing problems can include lung disease and even heart failure. Diseases of the lungs such as cancer, emphysema, or COPD make breathing difficult especially while lying down. Heart failure can cause fluid to collect in the lungs making it difficult to breathe. When sleeping, people fall into a pattern of deep, rhythmic breathing. If an individual is unable to breathe properly good sleep is unlikely.
Chronic pain can include conditions such as; arthritis, back problems and fibromyalgia. Those who suffer from frequent and severe migraines may also suffer from prolonged insomnia. These conditions cause constant pain, making it difficult for sufferers to sleep. Added to that, it is possible for the medications used to treat chronic pain to interrupt sleep further. This will be covered more in the medications section. Chronic pain can be responsible for the inability to fall asleep or for frequent night waking.
Polyuria, frequent urination, can make sleeping very difficult. Sufferers may need to wake several times during the night to use the restroom. There is also a condition, nocturia, which occurs when frequent urination only happens at night. Either of the conditions interrupts healthy sleeping habits.
Disease affecting the nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease causes sufferers to twitch and move involuntarily. Frequent and/or forceful twitching and movement can jar an individual from sleep or make getting to sleep extremely difficult. Restless leg syndrome occurs when an individual feels an odd, painful, burning or tickling sensation in their legs and must move, wiggle or shake them to find any kind of reliefs. This condition is very common in pregnancy.
Hyperactive thyroid and metabolic syndrome are two conditions that have been linked to insomnia. The metabolism does more than determine how we burn calories. Having a higher metabolic rate can cause any number of inconvenient or uncomfortable symptoms that can disturb sleep. Some of those symptoms include; racing heart, palpitations, tremors, frequent urination and bowel movements and the inability to fall asleep.
Aside from the many conditions list above, there are still many other health problems that can cause difficulty sleeping. Sometimes patients are given medications for those health conditions and others, and those medications can also disrupt sleep. The following section will review how certain medications can affect sleep.
Many medications have been known to cause insomnia and they treat a variety of different illnesses. High blood pressure medication, antidepressants, pain medications, corticosteroids, birth control, and...