Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Have you ever spent a night in bed tossing and turning, unable to catch a wink of sleep? If your response is a loud yes, this blog is for you! One of the most well-known sleep problems is insomnia, which is also one of the most misunderstood.
We’re here to clear the confusion and incorrect assumptions on this potentially serious sleep disorder.
Myth #1: Insomnia is all in the mind
Insomnia is one of the most under-recognized, under-diagnosed, and under-treated medical disorders. Insomnia is an extremely real and distressing condition for anyone who experiences it. The symptoms are easy to recognize. A person with insomnia may display one or more symptoms, including:
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Difficulty in staying asleep
- Waking up early at odd hours
- Repeated instances of waking up frequently at night
Additionally, patients may also experience one or more of the below-mentioned daytime impairments after a night of insomnia-affected sleep:
- Feeling tired upon waking up
- Having decreased energy levels and drive
- Difficulty concentrating on daily tasks
- Behavioral problems like impulsivity, aggression
Myth #2: Insomnia is a sign of a psychiatric disorder
Although psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, and stress can cause insomnia, however, it just one of the many triggers that can cause insomnia. In reality, insomnia is a sign of another problem rather than a sleep condition. It can be an indicator of an underlying physical condition, a medication side effect, restless legs syndrome, poor sleep hygiene, too much screen time, and sleep apnea. Other factors can include a loss of a loved one, marital difficulties, financial hardships, or concerns with family members or children.
Myth #3: Alcohol intake can help you sleep if you have insomnia
Contrary to the popular assumption by insomniacs, consuming alcohol before getting to bed can have the opposite effect if you have insomnia. Undoubtedly, a drink or two can be relaxing, inducing drowsiness that makes it easier to fall asleep initially. But as your blood alcohol level begins to fall, you will wake up again and struggle to fall back asleep. A review of many sleep studies found that alcohol-disrupted sleep will make you feel groggy the next day and could affect daytime alertness, performance, and mood. What’s more? Alcohol can contribute to or worsen other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea (a disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing while sleeping).
Myth #4: Reading on the computer or watching TV can induce sleep
Studies have shown that devices like computers, TV, mobile phones can actually raise levels of nervous activities instead of helping you in falling asleep. These devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that is released in the evening to get you ready for sleep.
Myth #5: Sleeping pills can cure insomnia
Tempted by the quick-fix of a sleeping pill before bed? Think again. Undeniably, over-the-counter sleeping pills can restore peaceful sleep for a few days, but they have potential side effects, including the risk of dependency on it. Hence, one should always consult a doctor before consuming any type of sleeping pill. Although some sleep drugs can help relieve symptoms of insomnia, they cannot completely cure the disorder. It is better to resolve underlying health issues and address your sleep environment for the management of sleep deprivation.
Myth #6: The disorder will go away on its own
Sadly, no. You shouldn’t expect insomnia to go away on its own if you don’t know what’s causing it. When experiencing any of the symptoms of insomnia, it is vital to seek medical help for the actual reason and treatment of the sleep disturbance. This is because when it happens over a long period of time, serious side effects could arise, including decreased alertness, EDS, high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
Allowing insomnia to keep you up at night is not a good idea. Do not self-diagnose the condition or attempt to treat your symptoms without a proper evaluation. To overcome the cycle of sleep loss, it is recommended that you seek the help of a sleep specialist as soon as possible.
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