Insomnia – what to do to alleviate this problem

There are two types of insomnia depending on their cause. Chronic primary insomnia and insomnia resulting from poor sleep hygiene, depression or a generalized anxiety disorder.

Primary insomnia can be defined as dyssomnia characterized by difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep and/or not having sufficiently restful sleep, with changes in its induction, continuity, and structure. This disorder is more common in young adult women.

The treatment of this problem involves sleep hygiene and cognitive-behavioral therapy, with or without hypnotic medication.


What is sleep disorder or Insomnia?

Today, sleep disorders are already considered a public health problem. In America, 70 millions of the adult population suffers from insomnia every year. It is already the most frequent sleep disorder in adults and can have consequences as serious as increased mortality due to cardiovascular diseases, psychiatric disorders, diabetes, accidents and work absenteeism.

Insomnia can be a disease, a symptom, or the consequence of poor sleep hygiene. It can be initial insomnia (difficulty falling asleep), intermediate insomnia (waking up in the middle of sleep) or terminal insomnia (waking up too early).

They may also last a few days or weeks (acute insomnia) or extend over months or years (chronic insomnia).

Among the existing dissonances (or sleep disorders) is primary insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling asleep or by restless and shallow sleep.

As a result, clinical discomfort may occur and interfere with the individual’s daily activities, especially in a professional context. During the day, it is common for the individual to experience a change in mood, with decreased energy and concentration levels and increased feelings of fatigue and malaise. In addition, this disorder can contribute to the development of other disorders, such as anxiety or depression.



Although symptoms may vary depending on the type of insomnia involved, this disorder is generally manifested by. :

  • An altered sleep rhythm (difficulty falling asleep, insufficient sleep duration, waking up too early, waking up several times during the night) ;
  • Anxious or restless sleep, with many nightmares and a feeling of tiredness upon awakening;
  • Difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, sleepiness, fatigue, anxiety, depression, irritability, and problems with learning and memory in daily activities.



Insomnia usually appears suddenly, associated with a stressful event, whether psychological (sadness, end of a relationship), social (job loss, economic difficulty), clinical (impending surgery) or environmental (noise in the room).

Approximately 30-50% of people with mood and anxiety disorders suffer from insomnia. However, it is common for this sleep disorder to persist, even when the original cause is no longer present. This is because the body begins to adopt a high level of alertness and negative conditioning.

Risk factors for insomnia include advanced age, female gender, illness, few social relationships, low socioeconomic level, separation, unemployment and shift work.



Treatment of insomnia should combine pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapy.

Nonpharmacologic measures include sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioral therapy, which result in. :

  • Exercise only in the morning or early afternoon;
  • Eat a light dinner with a little water;
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol or beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, among others;
  • Have a comfortable mattress and a soft temperature in the room;
  • Keeping a bedtime and wake-up schedule;
  • Use the room only for sleeping (not working or eating);
  • Maintain regular sexual activity.

Cognitive-behavioral therapies are also recommended, which aim to reduce anxiety, which is very present in cases of insomnia. Some of these therapies are: muscle relaxation, transcendental meditation, yoga, bioretention and stimuli control.

In parallel, it is advisable to take hypnotic drugs, which are effective in the treatment of insomnia. Basically, these drugs aim to reduce the time needed to induce sleep, increase its duration and provide a restful and peaceful sleep.


Prevention of sleep disorder

Although insomnia can occur as a result of other problems, maintaining good sleep hygiene can prevent this disorder. It is therefore important to:

  • Don’t use caffeine, tobacco and other stimulants in the hours before bedtime;
  • Be careful with certain medications that can affect sleep;
  • Engage in relaxing activities before bed, such as taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to classical music;
  • Have a light, easily digested dinner;
  • Avoid sports in the hours immediately before sleep;
  • Ensure that the bedroom has a quiet environment, pleasant temperature and light;
  • Adopt routines for waking up and going to bed.

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