Insomnia Is defined by difficulties falling asleep, waking up too early or repeatedly waking up through the night.
The causes are variable and range from habits people have developed before they go to sleep to several medical problems. Lack of sleep can cause injuries, memory problems, mood disorders, heart diseases, obesity, and diabetes.
The Sleep Cycle
A normal sleep cycle has two major categories termed REM and non-REM. REM stands for rapid eye movement. REM sleep is characterized by muscle relaxation, dreaming, episodic rapid eye movements, and low amplitude waves on an Electroencephalography (EEG). Non-REM sleep is divided into four stages from light sleep (stage 1) to stage IV (Delta or deep sleep). Non-REM sleep occupies about 75% of normal sleeping time while REM occupies the remaining 25% and usually occurs more toward morning. Sleep disorders disrupt these sleep cycles.
How Much Sleep Is enough?
Several studies have suggested most of normal adult’s average about 7 to 8 hours per night. In general, the younger the person, the more sleep they need.
The first step is to follow a protocol named Sleep Hygiene:
- Avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks in the evening.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening.
- Have a regular algorithm each evening.
- Avoid falling asleep with the lights on and/or leaving the television on.
- Avoid using a cell phone, computer, or tablet right before bed.
- Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
- Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
- Exercise, but not close to bedtime.
- Evaluate your room. Make sure you have a clean, comfortable, quiet, and dark sleep space. Use a sound machine or a fan to block noise from inside or outside the house and install darkening blinds for streetlights and morning light.
In addition, behavioural therapy and medication can be supportive.