Sleep Disorders: How Insomnia Affects Students and Parents

Insomnia is characterised by difficulty falling asleep, nocturnal awakening and nonrestorative sleep leading to daytime impairments i.e. counteractive to sleep quality.

Insomnia can be defined as a situation when there is difficulties initiating sleep, maintaining sleep due to nighttime or early morning awakening or
non-restorative sleep, despite ideal sleep conditions, leading to daytime impairments. Insomnia can be related to an underlying somatic or psychic disease or pharmaceutical use. Defining insomnia is complex, since it occurs as a symptom, a disorder or both.

Furthermore, there are several subtypes of insomnia, varying in duration and aetiology. However, there is a consensus that insomnia includes at least one sleep symptom and one waking symptom. The former may be difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, early morning awakening, non-restorative sleep or non-refreshing sleep. Waking symptoms are sleepiness, fatigue, cognitive impairment, mood disturbances, occupational or social impairments.

Misconceptions about sleep are common in persons with insomnia. A person with insomnia often has physiological and cognitive arousals that are associated with sleep and sleep environment. The negative thoughts that trigger autonomic arousal and emotional stress capture the person in an anxious state. The person loses the ability to perceive the amount of sleep obtained adequately and tends to exaggerate impairment of daytime performance. This vicious circle of thoughts might, if the person does not seek help, lead to chronic insomnia.

There are:

Transient insomnia (lasting a few days) might cause sleepiness and impair psychomotor performance and

Chronic insomnia (>1 month) could lead to memory impairment, depression and increased healthcare
utilisation

Elderly persons with insomnia are at an increased risk of falling and low physical functioning. In care environments, such as hospitals, sleep disturbances can be amplified by pain, illness, anxiety, noises or the care itself.

Since sleep disturbances commonly occur in stressful or new environments, or together with illness conditions, nurses need to be aware of this and the detrimental effects sleep disturbances can have on somatic and mental functioning. There are several non-pharmacological interventions that can be suggested in order to improve sleep or prevent sleep disturbances from occurring.

It has been hypothesised that insomnia is a hyperarousal disorder, there are several theories about the role of hyperarousals in insomnia. The general idea is that acute insomnia occurs in association with predisposing and precipitating factors (such as psychosocial stressors), while the chronic form of
insomnia develops in the presence of perpetuating factors. The arousals are somatic, cognitive and cortical forms of activation and the bed and the sleep environment become the stimuli for those arousals. This hypothesis about viagra price in johannesburg is also in line with the role of dysfunctional beliefs about sleep in the development of
chronic insomnia. Insomnia is fuelled by enhanced sensory processes at sleep onset, where the bed and bedroom areassociated with negative beliefs about sleep. The room in which the person sleeps is of great concern. Acting on basic sleep hygiene advice is therefore of importance most especially to the caregiver of those experiencing insomia. 

People who suffer with insomnia regularly have problems sleeping. Each sufferer experiences insomnia differently depending on what is causing their insomnia, and the nature and severity of their symptoms.

  • Waking up several times throughout the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep
  • Feeling tired and irritable during the day which can affect day to day activities and even work (it is very important that you do not drive or operate heavy machinery when feeling tired)
  • Laying in bed at night for hours without falling asleep
  • Finding it difficult to take a nap during the day even though they did not get enough sleep the previous night and are feeling tired
  • Waking up during the early hours of the morning, and having problems falling back to sleep
  • Finding it hard to fall asleep at night
  • Having difficulty concentrating during the day due to not getting enough quality sleep during the night

    If you feel as though you may be suffering with insomnia, it’s a good idea to start keeping a sleep diary to track the amount of sleep you are getting every night, and how you feel during the day.

    The next thing to do is to change your sleeping habits:

    1: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (including the weekends)

2: Only go to bed when you feel tired - avoid laying in bed for hours without falling asleep

3: Spend an hour winding down and relaxing before going to bed. Use this time as an opportunity to practice meditation or listen to soothing music

4: Exercise for at least 60 minutes everyday. Try not to exercise within a few hours of going to sleep

5: Make sure that your sleeping environment is comfortable, quiet, and dark

Jack Noble