Nothing comes close to having a good night’s sleep after a long and tiring day. Moreover, sleep is one of the best remedies for both physiological and psychological problems, but being extremely tired, and unable to fall asleep is one of the worst feelings. This condition is known as insomnia. It can lead to all sorts of problems and here are some interesting facts about insomnia:
1. A Little Too Common
While sleeplessness may never cross someone’s mind unless they experience it themselves, it is quite a common problem. According to the statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of adults in the United States have insomnia, which roughly translates to 40 million people. As for the United Kingdom, over a quarter of the population at 30%, is unable to get adequate sleep regularly. People living in Asian countries are not having it easy either. According to the statistics, 15% of Chinese, 35% of Malaysians, and 20% of Thais experience insomnia.
2. Different Types of Insomnia
The consensus is that insomnia is of a single type; however, there are 5 types of insomnia:
- Acute Insomnia: Usually caused by a change in the environment, inclusion of new medicine, or certain illnesses, this type of insomnia only lasts for a short duration.
- Chronic Insomnia: If a person is unable to fall asleep three days a week for more than a month, then, it is labeled as chronic insomnia. It is also known as idiopathic insomnia. Moreover, there is no specific cause for this type of insomnia.
- Onset Insomnia: Unlike other forms of insomnia that are linked to lack of sleep, onset insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep.
- Maintenance Insomnia: While waking up during sleep is not uncommon, some are unable to sleep again. The inability to fall back asleep is known as maintenance insomnia.
- Behavioral Insomnia of childhood: As the name suggests, it only applies to children. In this, children often wake up in the middle of the night and have a general inability to fall asleep.
3. Higher Among Women
Women are twice as likely to experience insomnia as men, according to a study conducted by Jessica A Mong and Danielle M Cusmano. Additionally, a higher number of women report having a poor quality of sleep compared to men with 52% and 41%, respectively. While experts do observe a clear difference in the sleeping pattern of both sexes, they are unsure exactly what causes this distinction in sleep.
4. Substances Affect Sleep
While compounds like caffeine are often linked with lack of sleep, substances like alcohol and nicotine significantly hinder our ability to fall asleep as well. According to a study conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, binge drinkers are likely to have 35% higher chances of developing insomnia compared to non-binge drinkers. This is intriguing because consumption of alcohol often leads to passing out. As for smoking, the chances of experiencing insomnia doubles in heavy smokers than in non-smokers.
5. Genes Might Be the Culprit
New studies are finding links between sleeping disorders and certain chromosomes. A study published in Springer Nature under the name of Genome-wide analysis of insomnia disorder, states that certain variations of chromosomes 7 and 9 result in insomnia. Also, it happens during the development of the brain. Moreover, it is also observed that if a mother suffers from insomnia during pregnancy, children are likely to experience sleep disorders as well.
6. Aging and Insomnia
This is a well-known fact that as humans age, the amount of sleep required by them decreases as well; however, if a person suffers from insomnia, the symptoms are likely to get worse with time. An alarming number of people over the age of 65 reports that they have trouble falling asleep each night.
7. Detrimental Effects
Unsurprisingly, sleep repairs our body, and while fatigue and brain fog are well-known facts of sleep deprivation, it can also lead to other health problems. Psychological disorders and lack of sleep go hand in hand, and experts often struggle to answer what led to another. According to Harvard Health Publishing, around 85% of people suffering from depression claim to have some sort of sleeping disorder. Likewise, over 70% of people with insomnia ended up developing a psychological disorder. Lastly, chronic sleeplessness can lead to hallucinations and even death.
8. Time for a Change
So, how to treat this insufferable disorder? By introducing healthy lifestyle changes. Lack of sleep is often linked to a sedentary lifestyle, therefore, adding a workout regime to your schedule can induce sleep. Additionally, restricting the intake of caffeinated drinks such as coffee and energy drinks can also help, especially near bedtime. Also, reducing the amount of blue light, i.e., artificial light from smartphones and television, as it tricks the brain into thinking it is still daytime, resulting in sleeplessness.
9. Avoid Medicines
In present times, we seek medicine even for the slightest discomfort, and it goes for sleeping problems as well. While it is alright to do so occasionally, experts advise not to rely on over-the-counter sleep medication. As for prescription drugs, they are also recommended for short periods. Interestingly, research is ongoing on cannabis as a treatment of sleeplessness; however, it is only in its early phase. Despite that, it seems promising.
10. Insomnia is Expensive
Insomnia is expensive; however, not in terms of treatment. Because of insomnia, people end up missing work, leading to expenses in the economy. On average, an American worker skips 11 days of work because of sleeplessness. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia costs $63 billion to the economy.