Insomnia Help - From Sleep Hygiene to New Medical Options - CAS Medical

Insomnia Help: From Sleep Hygiene to New Medical Options

Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder affecting millions worldwide. It is characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, despite having adequate opportunity for rest. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about insomnia, its impacts, and various management strategies you can use to take back control of your rest time.


Understanding Insomnia

Insomnia is more than occasional sleeplessness. It's a persistent condition that can significantly impair one's quality of life. Acute insomnia may last from a few days to weeks, while chronic insomnia persists for months or even years. Recognising the difference is crucial for seeking appropriate help. Many people experience short-term sleep difficulties due to stress, travel, or life changes. However, when sleep problems become a more regular occurrence, it may be time to consider whether you're dealing with insomnia.


The Far-Reaching Impact of Insomnia

The effects of insomnia extend far beyond night time discomfort. It often leads to profound consequences on various aspects of daily life:

Decreased Work Performance:                                                        

Insomnia can have a significant negative impact on productivity and concentration at work. This can in a lot of cases lead to potential career setbacks as you might find yourself struggling to complete tasks that were once easy, or making mistakes you wouldn't normally make. Simple projects become difficult projects with delays and worse, a lack of trust in the quality of your own work. It’s important to speak out when you start noticing these problems.

Increased Accident Risk:

Fatigue from insomnia can impair judgment and reaction times, raising safety concerns. This is particularly dangerous if you drive or operate machinery regularly.

Mental Health Implications:

Chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. It's a vicious cycle - lack of sleep can worsen mental health, and poor mental health can make it harder to sleep.

Cognitive Function Decline:

Memory, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities can be significantly affected. Insomnia sufferers often find themselves forgetting important details or struggling to focus during important meetings. Ever find yourself lost as to what you came into a room to find? Or forgetting a close friend’s name? Cognitive decline can stem from a number of health reasons. Rule out insomnia as best you can by taking action against it today.


Physical Health:

Insomnia can weaken the immune system, thereby considerably increasing your susceptibility to various serious health issues. Some studies have linked chronic insomnia to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and diabetes. Your body needs sleep. It needs ample rest. Even the best machine needs to shut down and reset periodically to maintain optimal functionality and your body is no different. Ideally, night time rest should be between seven and eight hours of sleep. Some people don’t sleep at all while some others only manage three or four hours of sleep.


Relationship Strain:

Increased irritability and negative mood changes can negatively impact one’s personal and professional relationships. You might find yourself snapping at loved ones or withdrawing from social activities irrationally and without clear triggers.


Insomnia and Absenteeism

A study published in the National Library of Medicine [Link] found varying degrees of insomnia in 79.9% of the study population. In the study, 57.2% experienced mild insomnia, 21.4% had moderate insomnia, and 1.3% suffered from severe insomnia. Insomnia was more common among those frequently absent from work or leaving due to illness. Those with moderate to severe insomnia had significantly higher total absenteeism compared to those with mild or no insomnia.


Non-Pharmacological Approaches: Sleep Hygiene and Lifestyle Changes

Before considering medication, it's essential to explore non-drug options for managing insomnia. Good sleep hygiene practices can make a significant difference in your sleep quality.

  1. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Regulate your body's internal clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time daily, including weekends. This helps train your body to expect sleep at certain times.
  2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities like reading or gentle stretching before bed. This signals to your body that it's time to wind down.
  3. Optimise Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool for optimal sleep conditions. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine if needed.
  4. Diet and Exercise: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals close to bedtime. Regular exercise can promote better sleep, but not too close to bedtime.
  5. Stress Management: Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation. These can help quiet a racing mind and prepare your body for sleep.
  6. Limit Screen Time: This one is very important. Reduce exposure to blue light from electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone, as it regulates sleep.


Traditional Short-Term Pharmacological Options

In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe short-term medication to address acute insomnia. Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics are commonly prescribed.

These medications are typically recommended for short durations. Usually up to 4 weeks. It is crucial that you use these under medical supervision due to potential side effects and the risk of dependence.


Emerging Long-Term Pharmacological Options

Recent advancements in sleep medicine have led to the development of a new class of medications. This new category, known as 'orexin receptor antagonists', targets the brain's wake-promoting system.

These medications may be suitable for longer-term use in some patients, under careful medical supervision. As with any medication, it's essential to discuss potential benefits and risks with a healthcare provider first.


When to Seek Professional Help

If insomnia persists despite implementing sleep hygiene practices, consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible. But how do you know when it's time to seek help? Here are some signs that indicate it might be time to consult a sleep specialist:

  1. Your sleep problems persist for more than a month.
  2. Insomnia is significantly affecting your daily life, work performance, or relationships.
  3. You're relying on over-the-counter sleep aids or alcohol to fall asleep.
  4. You experience symptoms of other sleep disorders, such as loud snoring or gasping for air during sleep.
  5. You feel anxious or frustrated about your sleep, which makes it even harder to fall asleep.

At CAS Medical, we offer comprehensive sleep assessments. These assessments involve a detailed discussion of your sleep patterns, lifestyle factors, and overall health. We may also recommend a sleep study, which can provide valuable insights into your sleep architecture and identify any underlying sleep disorders.

Based on the results, we develop personalised treatment plans that may include a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), lifestyle modifications, and, if necessary, appropriate medication. Our goal is to help you achieve restful, restorative sleep without relying on long-term medication use when possible.

If required, you can get faster access to see sleep specialists through our network of private healthcare providers.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

CBT-I is a structured program that helps identify and replace thoughts and behaviours that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. This non-pharmacological approach has shown significant effectiveness in treating chronic insomnia.

CBT-I typically involves several components:

  • Sleep restriction therapy to improve your sleep efficiency
  • Stimulus control therapy to associate your bed with sleep
  • Relaxation training to reduce physical tension
  • Cognitive therapy to challenge unhelpful thoughts about sleep.


Take Action

Insomnia can be a challenging condition, but effective management options are available. From improving sleep hygiene to exploring new medical treatments, there are numerous paths to better sleep. If you're struggling with persistent sleep issues, don't hesitate to reach out to us for professional help.

Remember, quality sleep is fundamental to overall health and well-being. Taking steps to address insomnia can lead to significant improvements in your daily life and long-term health.

For those experiencing sleep-related breathing issues, such as snoring or pauses in breathing during sleep, it may be worth exploring the possibility that you have sleep apnoea. Click the link to learn more about this condition in our article on understanding sleep apnoea.

Don't let insomnia control your life. Reach out to us today, and let's work together towards better sleep and a healthier you. Contact CAS Medical to discuss your sleep concerns and explore personalised solutions.