Insomnia is a sleep disorder, making it difficult for a person to fall asleep or stay asleep during a natural sleep cycle. Insomnia is a Latin word that means ‘no-sleep.’
Insomnia can last for days or short intervals. But in both cases, Insomnia ends up affecting the mental and physical health of the individual going through the disturbed sleep cycles.
Insomnia is of two categories in general, chronic, or short term. Chronic Insomnia can leave the person sleepless for days, or months. And it can affect a person’s mental health and physical health to devastating levels, and if left untreated, it can also open ways for other disorders.
Further classifications show that there are almost eleven types of insomnia.
The human body is programmed to take rests at intervals; every person has a biological clock that has a natural time to put a person to sleep. Now scientists have found that everyone can have their own biological time, some people might be early risers, and some might be late risers. But all human bodies require a certain amount of sleep time to allow the mind and body to recover from the exhaustion of the day. A healthy person requires at least 6 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep for better recovery.
In insomnia, the mind might not allow the body to sleep, and it can be due to fatigue, stress or illness for long periods of time. In another scenario, if the person forces themselves to overwork for days, that can cause the body to react in an uncontrolled manner and the brain might shut down the body on its own, causing the person to pass out. Long bouts of sleeplessness can cause fatigue, shivers, sadness, anxiety etc.
Insomnia is a treatable disorder, and there are coping mechanisms that can be learned. Some cases of insomnia can be handled by the change of habits, diets, and schedules; however, in chronic Insomnia, you might have to refer to your doctor for proper treatment of the disorder.
Insomnia and ways to stop it:
You can stop or treat Insomnia depending on the severity of the situation and the length of your insomniac episode. According to William Kohler, MD, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, Florida, “It is common to have temporary Insomnia.” It is normal to have a couple of sleepless nights, but if the problem is more frequent and it affects your health and your functions at work, or otherwise, it is best to consult a doctor.
There are some ways in which it can be prevented; a few of them are listed below.
- Avoid taking naps; try to schedule a proper sleep cycle.
- Do not take caffeinated drinks or the ones that contain taurine.
- Take your meals earlier than your bedtime. Don’t eat at least 2 hours before bed time.
- Make your sleeping space cozy and comfortable. Add nice diffused lights, candles etc. And don’t work in your sleeping space, as you will need to tell your mind that this is your relaxing area.
- Create a nice bedtime ritual for your sleep time.
There are different non-medical (cognitive) and medical treatments for Insomnia.
Some non-medical treatment includes;
- Relaxing techniques, these can be breathing methods and muscle relaxing practices.
- Mindfulness and meditation techniques like concentration exercises, mindful breathing, and candle watching. Yoga is very helpful for some people, and there are some yoga exercises that help a person sleep better and reduce the stress caused by insomnia; stretches can also help to relax the body muscles.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help a person change certain behavior patterns. It helps in training the mind to get rid of unhealthy habits around sleep and thinking patterns that might have developed along the way, like the fear of sleeping. Research has proved that people with insomnia who attended CBT sessions drastically improved their sleeping patterns.
- Stimulus control is also one of the ways to handle insomnia patterns of sleep. This is about taking charge of what surrounds your sleep time, like training the mind to associate the bed with sleep only. Putting on relaxing music and meditating before sleeping etc.
Medical treatments for insomnia include benzodiazepine hypnotics, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and melatonin receptors, agonists. But it is not advised to take a dosage by yourself without prescription by an authorized doctor. The reason for that is that each case of Insomnia is different and the dosages required might vary depending on the need of the patient. The dosage can be determined after a thorough analysis of the patient and medical history.
Not sleeping for more than 48 hours
Not sleeping for 48 hours is very unhealthy, whether by choice or by illness. The body is extremely fatigued after 48 hours of staying awake and the body will start shutting down for phases of sleep.
After staying awake for 24 hours, studies show that short-term memory is affected. But after 48 hours, there is poor muscle coordination, judgment, nausea and slurred speech and there can be episodes of microsleeps and shivers.
Seriousness of insomnia
There are very low chances of a person dying because of insomnia. A further classification of Insomnia is Fatal Insomnia. It is very rare to have fatal Insomnia. However, progressive Insomnia can lead to fatal insomnia. Sleeplessness and exhaustion over a long period of time might give way to other diseases. But death is not only caused by chronic or prolonged insomnia
How many hours do Insomniacs sleep?
Insomniacs do sleep, but the only problem is that sleep is not continuous. Their mind is also active while they are asleep. Hence, they wake up exhausted, grinding their teeth and fatigued. The sleep cycle in insomnia is highly disturbed; it can be caused by stress, nightmares, hormonal issues, maniac disorders etc. In rare cases, Insomniacs might develop a fear of sleeping, which can be very serious.
If you or a loved one has a fear of falling asleep, immediate medical help is necessary.
A healthy adult will get at least 6 to 9 hours of sleep depending on age, or biological needs. But in Insomniacs, the sleep to rest ratio is far less and varies depending on the type of Insomnia. There are around 11 types of Insomnias that can be classified as per condition, severity and pattern. And in each cycle is different. Every Insomniac has a different sleep cycle. The categorization is made on general traits present in the sleep cycle.
A few types of Insomnia are listed below.
- Adjustment Insomnia
- Behavioral insomnia
- Illness related Insomnia
- Paradoxical Insomnia
- Fatal Insomnia
- Drug-related Insomnia
- Idiopathic Insomnia
- Psychophysiological Insomnia
- Short term jet lag insomnia
- Uncategorized insomnia
Insomniacs might have difficulty sleeping, and once asleep, might be wide awake after a few minutes. They might wake up in the middle of the night and not sleep again at all.
Any person that is having a disturbed sleep cycle, and getting less sleep than normal sleep requirement might be suffering from insomnia. But only a proper diagnosis will be able to diagnose the type of insomnia one is suffering from.
Coma and insomnia
A person cannot fall into a coma due to a lack of sleep unless accompanied by another or prolonged medical injury.
Coma is a medical condition, not a mental condition. It is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain. It can be because of an infection, diabetes, traumatic head injury, stroke, brain tumor, and even drug intoxication.
Some Helpful Resources
- Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School
- Wild Thera Sleep Aid and Insomnia Relief. Natural Sleeping Remedy with Essential Oils & Valerian. Can be Used with Melatonin, Sleep Mask, Sleep Headphones, Sleep Pillow & Sleeping Pills.
- Dodow – Sleep Aid Device – More Than 500.000 Users are Falling Asleep Faster with Dodow!
- The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia: Get a Good Night’s Sleep Without Relying on Medication
Insomnia is described as the inability to sleep or disturbed sleep. That can be because of any or several reasons. There are different types of insomnias, and all types are resultant of various factors. Depending on the severity and the pattern of the sleep cycle, your doctor will guide through a treatment pattern.
If your insomnia is short term or occasional, your doctor might advise you non-medical treatment, but if you are suffering from chronic insomnia, there is a chance that you might need medical treatment paired with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
If you or a person you know has been showing signs of disturbed sleeping patterns over a long period of time, they might need medical help at the earliest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How do you stop insomnia?
If you notice any change in your mood, productivity levels, or find it hard to concentrate on something, it might be a symptom of chronic Insomnia. But Chronic Insomnia can be either recurring or constant. In some cases, it might be 3 to 4 times a week for months. Or at a stretch.
Q2. What happens after 48 hours of no sleep?
If you have been awake for more than 48 hours due to disturbed sleep and it is not recurring, then it is nothing to worry about. But if this is a regular pattern over the past month or more. It is highly recommended to get medical help immediately.
Q3. Can you die from insomnia?
A study conducted on rats showed that Insomnia could result in death. However, it has not yet been reported in humans. A research conducted showed Randy Gardner in 1964 even after 264 hours of sleeplessness and only 14 hours of sleep recovery, he was able to function normally with no effects at all. But If Insomnia is caused by constantly disturbed sleep or total sleeplessness. A human body might collapse after 10 days with no recovery time.
Q4. Can you fall into a coma because of a lack of sleep?
Unless an insomniac suffers an injury to the head or other medical condition. There are very few chances that an insomniac might fall into a coma. However, after long intervals of forced sleeplessness, a person might pass out for a few hours and not respond to stimuli at all. But the phase of passing out cannot be classified as a coma.
Q5. Is insomnia a mental illness?
Insomnia is a symptom of many mental illnesses. It is a sleep disorder. Insomnia can be caused by many mental conditions like anxiety, manic episodes, schizophrenia, etc.
According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “about 30% of all adults complain of occasional insomnia and 10% of chronic insomnia, of whom 40% may have a psychiatric illness.”