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Insomnia Essay, Research Paper

Thesis Statement

In this research paper I will attempt to familiarize you, the reader, on the role of sleep, health risks of sleeping disorder that is most common, Insomnia. I will give you some of the aspects which cause Insomnia and how it can be treated.

We human beings spend one third of our lives in a mysterious, potentially dangerous and seemingly unproductive state of unconsciousness—and no one knows exactly why. Scientists have attempted to study the effects of sleep and its role on our existence but have yet to come up with an accurate reason why we need sleep. Yes, we do need sleep. All animals, be they mammal, amphibian, aquatic, etc., need some form of sleep in order to rejuvenate their body and/or mind. Without sleep our bodies tend to experience some type of mental or physical malfunctions. Some of us human beings can even become down right incapable of proper social function. In other words, cranky frustrated emotional nutcases. So, sleep does play an important role in our daily functions, and no matter what we must fit it into our lives/schedule.

Edison?s light bulb can be considered one of the major technological ?curses? of the modern age, says sleep researcher Harvey Moldofsky, chief psychiatrist at Toronto Western Hospital. Edison believed that his light bulb would liberate us from the night and in the process transform our lives. The fact that the light bulb served as a reliable, controlled was to, banish the night, did not act as perhaps Edison hoped it would. Yet, it helped banish our need for sleep. And with this a change in our sleeping patterns. This is one of the ultimate causes of sleep problems.

Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of one or more of the following: difficulty sleeping, waking up too early, unrefreshing sleep, waking frequently through the night. When one has Insomnia it is difficult to initiate and/or maintain sleep. Some believe that Insomnia is not a disorder, it is a symptom that often indicated other problems. Other diagnosis, hold that Insomnia is the most common of all sleep disorders and perhaps the most frequent health complaint after pain. Severe cases can disrupt social and occupational function and is associated with depression, fatigue, and anxiety.

There are different types of Insomnia which affect our sleep patterns in many different ways. Types of Insomnia are:

 Sleep Onset Insomnia (delayed sleep Phase Syndrome): a disorder in which the major sleep episode is delayed in relation to the desires clock time which one wishes to be awakened.

 Idiopathic Insomnia: A life long inability to obtain adequate sleep that is due to an abnormality of the neurological control of the sleep-wake system.

 Psychophysiological Insomnia: A disorder or somatized tension (conversion of anxiety into physical symptoms) and learned sleep – preventing associated with results in a complaint of Insomnia and associated decreased functioning during wakefulness.

 Childhood Insomnia (limit-setting Sleep Disorder): Primarily a childhood disorder that is characterized by the inadequate enforcement of bed times by a caretaker with resultant stalling or refusal to go to bed at the appropriate time.

 Food Allergy Insomnia: A disorder of initiating and maintaining sleep due to an allergic response to food allergens.

 Environmental Insomnia (Environmental Sleep disorder): A sleep disorder disturbance due to a disturbing environmental factor that causes a complaint of either Insomnia or excessive sleepiness.

 Transient Insomnia (Adjustment Sleep Disorder): Represents sleep disturbance temporally related to acute stress, conflict or environmental change causing emotional agitation.

 Periodic Insomnia (Non 24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome): Consists of a chronic steady pattern consisting of 1-2 hour daily delays in sleep onset and wake times in an individual living in society.

 Altitude Insomnia: An acute Insomnia usually accompanied by headaches, loss of appetite, and fatigue, that occurs following ascent to high altitudes.

 Hypnotic-Dependency Insomnia (Hypnotic ? Dependent Sleep Disorder): Characterized by Insomnia or excessive sleepiness that is associated with tolerance to or withdrawal from hypnotic medications.

 Stimulant ? Dependent Sleep Disorder: Characterized by a reduction of sleepiness or suppression of sleep by central stimulants and resultant alterations in wakefulness following drug abstinence.

 Alcohol ? Dependent Insomnia (Alcohol ? Dependent Sleep Disorder): Characterized by the sustained ingestion of sleep onset by the sustained ingestion of alcohol that is used for its hypnotic effect.

 Toxins ? Induced Sleep Disorders: Characterized by either Insomnia or excessive sleepiness produced by poisoning with heavy metals or organic toxins.

Transient and intermittent Insomnia generally occur in people who are temporarily experiencing either stress, environmental noise, extreme temperatures, change in ones environment, and sleep/wake schedule problems.

Sleep is the way the body rests and allows the mind to slow down and relax. Sleep is a distinct state of mind and body in which the body is deeply at rest, the metabolism is lowered, and the mind becomes unconscious to the outside world. The sleeping mind does not become unconscious entirely; instead, it shifts the direction of consciousness from a chair beside your body to another chair inside your dream.

Aristotle proposed that the purpose of sleep was to help the body digest food although eating a big meal before getting into bed is one of the worst things you can do for your rest.

Sleep is not a random phenomenon but a highly structured and well organized activity following a cycle pattern .

Two types of sleep have been identified rapid eye movement (REM) and non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The duration of NREM-REM cycles is approximately 90 minutes., but may vary between 70 and 120 minutes NREM is subdivided into four stages from stage 1 a very light sleep, to stage 4, the deepest stage of sleep. NREM sleep is also called ?quiet? sleep, because most physiological functions are slowed down during this period of slumber, NREM sleep has been described as an idling brain in a moveable body . REM sleep is called paradisiacal active, or fast sleep, characterized by electroenchgalographic (EEG) activation, muscle tone , and the onset of (the name REM) rapid eye movements during this time. Vivid hallucinatory experiences occur during REM sleep. With the exception of periodic muscle twitches, the body is essentially paralyzed during REM, which has been described as a hyperactive brain in a paralyzed body, Delta or slow wave sleep is predominant in the first third of the night , where as the proportion of REM sleep may come quicker than usual, aid delta sleep may consequently be delayed and shortened.

Patterns of sleep generally look like this: light sleep ?deep sleep- REM sleep_ light sleep- deep sleep ? rest and restoration. The first period of light sleep lasts about 45 minutes. There are five distinct stages of sleep. Stage 1 and 2 are the majority of the night. Stage 3 and 4 are deep sleeping or ?delta sleep? and rest and restoration. Stage 5 is the dream-state, which generally involves rapid eye movement or REM sleep. Several developmental changes in sleep patterns occur over the course of life span. Total sleep time is highest in infancy and gradually declines, leveling off in young adulthood.

There are many different causes for insomnia that affect diverse groups of people in lots of ways. Causes for insomnia may range from the psychological to psyiological. Causes of chronic insomnia associated with psychological problems can be deeply rooted in stress, anxiety and /or depression. Insomnia associated with medical problems can be caused by a variety of things including: anemia, asthma, kidney dysfunction, diabetes, HIV, and a variety of medication side effects. Insomnia can also be due to poor eating habits, caffeine, and lack of exercise.

Snoring, not breathing, and Gasping for air are problems some people have when they are unable to sleep and breath at the same time which causes sleep apnea. Leg twitches are a problem some experience when their body suddenly jerks and wakes them as they are first falling asleep. Almost any sleeping pill, if taken continuously, will cause insomnia.

Sleep can be affected by ones individual differences, prior sleep history, circadian rhythms, drugs, life styles, and psychopathology. Caffeine and nicotine are both central nervous system stimulants, and as such are sleep-disrupting substances. Insomnia can also be due to poor eating habits, caffeine, and lack of exercise.

Medications that are prescribed bed for sleep can disrupt or eliminate the sleep are: Doral, Halcion. Restoril , valium, and Xanax. Antihistamines can also cause sleep depravation. Vitamins and minerals such as B6, niacin amide, calcium, magnesium, or antioxidants.

Life stress factors also cause significant variations in sleep habits from one individual to the next. Work and leisure activities, the use of alcohol and drugs, travel social and family obligations all affect the ability to get a good nights sleep.

Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue can be one characteristic of narcolepsy and hypersomnia . Insomnia can adversely affect both physical and mental health. Some people suffering from Insomnia depend too much time in bed unsuccessfully trying to sleep.


Diagnosis is based on two symptoms: 1) the perceived difficulty of initiating and/or maintaining sleep or feeling unrested despite an adequate amount of sleep or 2) daytime tiredness or porsocialor work performance as a consequence of impaired sleep.

Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets or how long it takes to fall asleep. Identifying behaviors that may worsen Insomnia and stopping (or reducing) them. Normative developmental changes in sleep patterns are outlined and distinguished from pathological sleeplessness.

Sleep problems are also more common among the widowed, divorced and separated and among people with low incomes and low socio-economic status. Certain individuals are more likely to experience Insomnia are the elderly, females, and those persons with a history of depression. Twenty-five percent of adults and fifty percent of senior citizens have insomnia problems. Insomnia is also a problem that is prevalent among people write HIV/ Aids.

When loss of sleep impairs a person?s ability to function properly during the day, it may indicate a potential problem. Insomnia may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. The main consequence of sleep depravation in otherwise normal sleepers are sleepless, performance impairment, and mood alteration. The severity of the effects of sleep depravation depend on the effects sleep loss is partial, total, acute, or chronic. Insomniacs have more difficulty coping with minor irritations and report less enjoyment of family and relationships; they also feel less well physically.

About one third of the adult population is affected by insomnia each year. Insomnia affects 20-40% of all adults, mostly women and the elderly. According to the National Survey of Psychotherapeutic Drug Use , about 35% of the adult populationis affected by insomnia during the course of a year. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Epidomiologic Catchment Area study yielded a 10.2% of the population on a chronic basis. Surveys indicate that one-third. ? About 15to 18 percent suffer from percent suffer from intractable sleep difficulties that are perceived to impediments to them life says Harvey Moldofsky , chief psychologist at Toronto Western Hospital.

Acute sleep loss causes fatigue and decreases motivation administrative. Total sleep loss for more than one night leads to micro sleep episodes intruding into wakefulness, effecting attention span reduction, difficulty concentrating, and performance efficiency is impaired.

As sleep loss accumulates, daytime sleepless increases, and both cognition and behavioral deficits are exalelated. Chronic insonmia may induce emotional distress and increase the use of psychotropic medications and the risk of substance abuse. Sleep disturbances can affect a person?s life, causing significant psychosocial, occupational and health reprocassions.

Sleep duration is low lend to lavevity . Insomnacs are move likely (5% US. 2%) to report motor vehicle accidents in which fatigue was a factor. Individuals with sleep disturbances are move likely to display concomitent pshchological distress than those without sleep complaints reported by insomniacs often have a psychosomatic connotation: thsior headaches, gadro intestinal problems, no specific aches and pains, and allergies.

There is a strong relationship between sleep and emotional disturbances. Insomnia causes psychological distress in some individuals, and that in those already afflicted by emotional problems, chronically disturbed sleep may only potentiate these difficulties.

Reports of fatigue, tiredness, or drowsiness almost always accompany Insomnia complaints. Sleepiness is almost a direct result of sleep depravation. And, chronic inability to sleep will ultimately lead to Insomnia or some type of sleep disorder. Insomnia encompasses a wide variety of complaints typically reflecting unsatisfactory duration, efficiency, or quality of sleep.


Technology used to measure and aid in the diagnosis of sleep consist of the EEG, the electro-oculogram (EOG), and the electromyogram (EMG). The EEG records brain wave activity from the central and occipital areas. The EOG measures a difference of electrical potential between the cornea and the retina; this difference is generated with each eye movement. The EMG monitors muscle tone, and its main recording site is the chin. Monitoring of oxygen saturation is used in the assessment diagnosis of sleep apnea. The electrocardiogram (EKG) documents arrhythmia?s accompanying respiratory disturbances. Accompanying respiratory disturbances. EMG monitoring of the anterior tibilias muscles is used for detection of periodic leg movements during sleep.

Most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep a night, but some adults are ? short sleepers? and functions well and only there of four hours. Being that the purpose of sleep could be to allow the body time to repair and rejurvenate- some find 4 to 6 hours as a sufficient amount at sleep. Sleep reduces fatigue and relieves stress and dreaming helps to clear the nervous systems. The amount of time needed for sleep is eshonaly usaible from person to person. The clinical significanes of insomnia is detemined according to its sevenrity, frequency, duration, and daytime sequence.

Treatment for dramic insomia consists of:

-There are many foods you may try to get est that would/will aid in putting you to sleep. Foods such as oats, sweet corn, rice, zawgen, tomatoes, bananas, and barely all are rich in malnutrion which helps reduce sleep.

-Lifestyle changes can also hepls you to sleep better.

-Herbal remedies that as help induce sleep are Valerian roots, skull cap, passion flower, wood betony or California poppy.

-Over the counter sleep medicines are not usually recommended for the treatment of insomnia . Though using sleeping pills without supervision of a physican for long periods of time can treat chronic insomnia.

-Tayrs behavioral techniques to improve sleep, such as rehilbilation therpy, sleep restrictions therapy, and reconditioning may help. There are specific and effective technques through rehilbilation therapy that can reduces or eliminate anxiety and body tension.

Insomnia can not be cured without treaty the underlying imbalance that causes it. The Association of Sleep Disorders Caters was established in 1975; its purpose is to accidet clinics in the United States and to promote professional education and the development of standards and guidelines for patient care. Most clinics are based in large urban hospitals or university medical schools, usually in conjunction with sleep-research programs . Medical experts from widely diverse fields are involved in sleep clinics. Psychologists and psychiatrists, internist, psycologists and specialist in disorders of the heart, lungs, brain, respiratory system and central nervous system are involved can givers at sleep clinics.


Insomnia can be treated if diagnosed properly and medication can be given to aid in the elimination of the problem.

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