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What Is Insomnia Sleep Disorder?

Insomnia is a sleeping disorder characterized by difficulty in falling and staying asleep. Almost one in every ten persons faces at least one episode of mild insomnia at any point in their lives.  This condition is especially more common among women and the elderly.

Insomnia may include:

  • difficulties falling asleep.
  • Difficulty going back to sleep once awake
  • Waking up too early.

People can sometimes experience all three.

You may feel insomnia for a brief period, such as when you are anxious or agitated. This condition is characterized as acute insomnia. On the other hand, chronic insomnia disorder is a term used to describe long-term insomnia. This is characterized as having difficulty falling or staying asleep at least three nights per week for at least three months, as well as not functioning normally during the day.

Types of Sleep Disorders

Besides insomnia, more than 80 various types of sleep disorders exist. The most frequent are:

Obstructive sleep apnea: It is characterized by snoring and brief periods of non-breathing during sleep.

Restless legs syndrome: This condition occurs when you feel the urge to move your legs when resting.

Shift work sleep disorder: It involves having trouble with your sleep. Finding it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, and feeling tired at inconvenient times because of your work schedule.

Narcolepsy: You can't control how long you stay awake or when you fall asleep.
REM sleep behavior disorder: involves acting out dreams during the REM period of sleep.

Delayed sleep phase syndrome: It is a condition where individuals experience difficulty falling asleep at their desired bedtime and struggle to wake up on time for work or school.

Relationship Between Anxiety and Sleep Disorder

It has long been known that severe sleep disorders, particularly insomnia, are a sign of anxiety disorders. Anxious people frequently think about their worries in bed, which might prevent them from falling asleep.

Insomnia has been linked to a state of mental hyperarousal that is frequently accompanied by worry. Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders exhibit increased sleep responsiveness, suggesting that they are more prone to experiencing insomnia during stressful situations.

People suffering from numerous types of anxiety, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder have reported difficulty sleeping. 

Stress about falling asleep can cause sleep anxiety, which makes a person feel even worse about their fear. Anxiety about going to bed, which is also known as anticipatory anxiety, can mess up good sleep patterns and routines.

Researchers have found that worrying and ruminating before bed can make it harder to have lively dreams during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Anxiety can lead to scary dreams and nightmares, which can make it harder to fall asleep and make you even more afraid of going to sleep.

Why Do I Get Anxious At Night And Can't Sleep

We might get more anxious at night because at night time we tend to focus more on our anxieties when we are lying in bed with no distractions from the day. This constant focus on anxious thoughts at night time makes us unable to sleep. For example, people who suffer from insomnia may begin to worry about their ability to fall asleep. These concerns can worsen insomnia and further hinder the ability to fall asleep.

In addition, anxiety can be caused by a variety of different conditions that manifest at night. For example, people with nightmare disorder frequently experience distress when they awaken from a nightmare. Nightmares and sleep disturbances are also symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, experiencing panic episodes at night can cause individuals to wake up feeling anxious and expecting something terrible. These conditions if not treated make the person unable to sleep. 

It is common for a person with anxiety disorder to have trouble falling or staying sleep. That is because anxiety can trigger the stress response of the body. This stress response initiates a cascade of events that can make a person either too agitated or tired to fall asleep.

In addition, the body can be impacted by anxiety even during sleep, causing changes in the sleep stages. For example, individuals who tend to be more anxious were found to have shorter periods of rapid eye movement sleep. Anxiety is also associated with decreased deep sleep, which is believed to be essential for the healing of the body and mind.

How To Relieve Or Treat

Stress, anxiety, and sleep are connected in a vicious circle. When we are stressed or anxious, our bodies produce cortisol, which is a hormone that prevents us from sleeping by keeping us awake. It may result in restless thoughts and tense muscles that make it hard to fall asleep and stay in bed. On the other hand, insufficient sleep disrupts our ability to deal effectively with stress and anxiety. Lack of sleep causes emotional regulation, which makes us more irritable and negative, and it interferes with concentration which makes it more difficult to deal with the challenges.

A broad range of treatment alternatives exist to address diverse sleep disorders, which may comprise:

  • Establish a calming pre-sleep routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. This could include activities like reading or taking a warm bath.
  • Taking drugs or supplements (e.g. zolpidem, zaleplon) for insomnia.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This type of therapy can be highly effective for treating chronic insomnia and improving sleep patterns.
  • The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Limit screen time at least an hour before bed. You can use candles or ambient lighting instead of electronic screens.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

Your healthcare professional will make therapy recommendations based on your specific condition. They will also go over any potential side effects before you start therapy.

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