“I have slept like a baby since last Tuesday night, so that’s now been 6 full nights of sleep! Hooray! Overall things have been much easier to manage as a result and the bags are also easing from my eyes which is always a bonus!“
You see, I’m a family doctor and I see so many patients suffering from insomnia. Most of them have primary insomnia, that is, it’s not caused by some underlying medical condition.
Insomnia can strike anyone from any walk of life, through no fault of their own, and boy, does it happen often. Insomnia affects at least 30 – 50% of the population at some time, and from my own medical experience, I think it’s more common than that
Well, insomnia has really bad effects on so many other areas of your life, as well as simply making getting through the day a drag. I’ll be talking in more detail about that a bit later…
Doctors divide insomnia into Primary and Secondary insomnia. As I just mentioned, Primary insomnia is not caused by an underlying medical condtion. Secondary insomnia IS caused by a medical condition. You need to discuss this with your doctor to find out which kind of insomnia you have, as some of the medical conditions involved (such as overactive thyroid, sleep apnea, and depression) need to be tested for and treated before you can get any relief from your insomnia
Some Commonly-Prescribed Medications can CAUSE Insomnia as a side effect, so if you take medications, you should ask your doctor whether they may be causing or aggravating your insomnia. Examples of this include beta-blockers such as atenolol or metoprolol, the statin group of drugs which are prescribed to lower cholesterol, some anti-depressants, in particular the SSRI’s which include escitalopram, fluoxetine and sertraline. Also some decongestants in cold and flu medications can a problem
The standard treatments recommended for primary insomnia are firstly counselling by your family doctor. This can take some time and some doctors are not so great at it. Plus, it can be hard for you to take in details – you might be tired, in a hurry and maybe worrying about the cost of the consultation
Secondly you might be referred to see a psychologist or hypnotherapist, but then you have to find the time to go see them, as well as the cost which as you know, for a specialist, can be high. And, well, if you can find a cheap one, can you please tell me about them? Because they can be hard to find….
Supposedly it’s after that when you doctor may offer you sleeping tablets, though we all know that sometimes the first 2 steps get skipped. It’s SO tempting to take sleeping tablets, they seem so quick and easy…but unfortunately Sleeping Pills Have some Risks and Down-sides.
Firstly, sleeping pills can be ADDICTIVE. This means both physical addiction where you body has cravings, and also psychological addiction, where you become convinced that you can’t get a good night’s sleep without them
REBOUND INSOMNIA is a common problem – it is where your insomnia is actually worse after being on the sleeping pills for a while, compared to before you started them
They can have SIDE EFFECTS – you could feel groggy and tired the next morning, and have trouble starting the day, and this could be a real worry if you have to drive a car to get to work. Often this can also mean that you start to take stimulants such as caffeine in the morning, and this in turn can lead to a cycle of stimulants and insomnia, which just makes you feel even worse and will prolong the insomnia. Odd behaviours such as sleep walking and night-time binge-eating have been associated with some sleeping medications. Sleep driving has even been reported – now that’s a really scary thought! Abnormal behavior, headaches, dizziness, as a doctor, I could keep going for some time…
There could be endless reasons WHY you have insomnia at the moment, maybe you are under Extra Stress at present, whether its financial, family, marital or just those day-to-day life stressors. Maybe you are just one of nature’s Worriers, and can’t stop yourself from thinking all night long. Perhaps you just can’t seem to relax, and find yourself lying awake with your teeth clenched, and feeling Angry at yourself.
But I guess it just doesn’t matter WHY you have insomnia, often the most Difficult issues are the awful effects of it! I’m absolutely sure you know all about it, and know exactly what I mean when I mention the intense frustration, which can start long before you even go to bed! Then there’s the irritation that seems to spill over onto other aspects of your life. The heightened stress levels, the…