Sleep Onset Insomnia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

The name’s got it! You probably know that insomnia simply refers to the occurrence of lack of sleep.

So? Sleep onset insomnia will refer to the inability to fall asleep at the point of what is dubbed the “normal sleep onset”, usually 10 to 15 minutes.

I guess you still don’t grok that. Here’s what I mean; when you go to bed, it is conventional that you’ll lay there awake for 10 to 15 minutes, after which you are expected fall asleep, under normal health conditions. This is what doesn’t happen with those suffering from sleep onset insomnia. They take longer. If you happen to be a victim, you’re asleep onset insomniac, though your friends may call you “the night owl”, as they did to me before I could get well off this condition. However, this text has got some good news for you! Keep reading. I’ll exhaust the causes of sleep insomnia, and, consequently, article you too on the treatment procedures of this condition. I can see you smiling now (as if!). But first, let’s look into some few facts about this condition.    

In America, it is reported by the National Sleep Foundation that about 35 percent of adults suffer from this condition! Aren’t these millions of persons? Now think about the whole world. How many people do you think are in chains for the disorder? Quite a lot, I bet. And you’re likely to be among them.    

Types of insomnia that should know it

Types of insomnia that should know it

here are different types of insomnia. Each type is characterized by how long it lasts, how it affects your sleep and the underlying cause.

Acute insomnia

Acute insomnia is short-term insomnia that can last from a few days to a few weeks. This is the most common type of insomnia. Acute insomnia is also known as adjustment insomnia, as it usually occurs when you experience a stressful event, such as the death of a loved one or starting a new job. With stress, acute insomnia can also be caused by environmental factors that disrupt your sleep, such as noise or light.

  • Sleeping in an unknown bed or in an environment, such as a hotel or a new home
  • Physical discomfort, such as pain or inability to assume a comfortable position
  • Certain drugs
  • Illness
  • Jet lag

Chronic insomnia

Insomnia is considered chronic if you have difficulty sleeping for at least three days a week for at least a month.

Chronic insomnia can be primary or secondary.

Primary chronic insomnia, also called idiopathic insomnia, has no obvious cause or underlying medical condition.

Secondary insomnia, also called comorbid insomnia, is more common. It is chronic insomnia that occurs with another condition. The common causes of chronic insomnia include:

  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism and obstructive and central sleep apnea.
  • Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Drugs, including chemotherapeutic drugs, antidepressants and beta-blockers.
  • Caffeine and other stimulants, such as alcohol, nicotine and other drugs.
  • Lifestyle factors, including frequent travel and jet lag, rotating shift work, and napping.

Onset insomnia

Onset insomnia can be short-term or chronic.

One of the causes of acute and chronic insomnia can make it difficult to fall asleep. Psychological or psychiatric problems are the most common causes. These include stress, anxiety or depression.

According to a 2009 study, people with chronic insomnia often have another sleep disorder, such as restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder. Caffeine and other stimulants can also prevent you from falling asleep.

Maintenance insomnia

Maintenance insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or waking up too early and having trouble returning to sleep. This type of insomnia makes you fear that you will not be able to fall asleep again and not get enough sleep. This interferes even more with sleep, creating a vicious circle. Maintenance insomnia can be caused by mental health problems, such as depression. Other medical conditions that may cause you to wake up include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma and other respiratory conditions
  • Restless leg syndrome RLS
  • Periodic disorder of limb movement

Behavioral insomnia of childhood

Behavioral insomnia in children affects approximately 25% of children. It is divided into three subtypes:

  • BIC sleep-onset. This type is the result of negative associations with sleep, such as learning to go to sleep when shaken or breastfed. They can also include the presence of a parent or watching TV while falling asleep.
  • BIC limit-setting. This type of BIC implies the refusal of a child to go to bed and repeated attempts to postpone going to sleep. Examples of this behavior are asking for a drink, going to the toilet, or asking a parent to read them another story.
  • BIC combined type.

This form is a combination of the other two subtypes of BIC. This happens when a child has a negative association with sleep and resists bedtime due to a lack of limitations on the part of a parent or caregiver.

The BIC can generally be solved by certain behavioural changes, such as creating a healthy sleep routine or learning self-calming or relaxing techniques.

what are symptoms of sleep Onset insomnia?

First and foremost, the most outstanding symptom of sleep onset insomnia is what it is defined to be ~ not getting to sleep at the onset of the night. Then, depending on the level of the condition in yourself (transient, acute, or chronic), these other symptoms may occur in their mild to severe forms:  

  1. Feeling sleepy during the day.
  2. Frequent irritation.
  3. Daytime headaches.
  4. Mood swings.
  5. Unpleasant behaviors.
  6. Low concentration.
  7. Depression.
  8. Gastrointestinal problems.

7 causes of sleep onset insomnia.

causes of sleep onset insomnia

The most common cause of this condition is behavioral. However, medical and physical conditions, as well as changes in the pattern of your lifestyle can also contribute to this suffering. To be more detailed, the following are most of its causes.  

  1. Being fond of using electronic devices like your computer, mobile phone, television,… you list them. You really get immersed into what you are doing with these devices, especially when watching and/or browsing. Consequently, you won’t realize that you get to sleep late I’m the night. You’ll do it repeatedly; today, tomorrow, the other day, again and again, then it becomes your character. Another day when you don’t have the electronics with you, or you just want to get some rest, you won’t find it easy to ignite asleep.
  2. Stress and anxiety are other pairs of insomnia-causing agents. It goes without a say that when you are depressed, thinking about something too much, or anxious about something, you won’t just find it easy to start sleeping. That has happened to most, if not all of us if I’m not wrong.
  3. Restless leg syndrome the nearly irresistible urge to always move your legs is another cause. This commonly happens in the evening. It is a nervous system disorder that has proved difficult to cure. When you keep on moving your legs on the bed when you should have started sleeping, you feel disturbed and falling asleep under these conditions becomes difficult. I’m sorry if this is your problem, but it can be controlled.
  4. Side effects of some medicines that are prescribed for depression may also sleep onset insomnia. Examples include corticosteroids, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, statins, ACE inhibitors, the list continues.
  5. Temperature changes can also cause this disorder. For example, when it feels too hot during the summers, most people find it difficult to start sleeping as soon as they get to bed.
  6. Doctors have discovered too that when you take much coffee or aerated drinks at night, you’ll also find it difficult to start sleeping.
  7. Hormonal imbalance is also a cause. Women aged between 45 and 60 years suffer sleep onset insomnia due to this since they are in their menopausal stage, which is associated with hormonal imbalance.

After having a grasp of these causes, which we can avoid to help prevent the condition, it is now ostensibly important to go through the treatment strategies of sleep onset insomnia.    

The expert-endorsed treatment procedures.

The expert-endorsed treatment procedures

Before anything, it is worthy of note that once the underlying cause of a disorder or disease is determined, treating it becomes an easy task. Here, I shall highlight both medical and home remedies for eradicating or reducing the effects of this condition. Here we go.  

The medical remedies.

  1. Benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines are pharmacological sleep aids that can provide you with some deep sleep when taken under a doctor’s prescription.
  2. Antidepressants can be used to reduce stress.
  3. Ramelteon.

Natural/home remedies.

Natural/home remedies for sleep
  1. Natural remedies are usually the best! They are usually highly recommended.
  2. Eating healthily: Avoid taking coffee just before going to bed and instead take some warm milk. Warm milk will help you to start sleeping early without difficulties. Don’t smoke!
  3. Listen to some soft, soothing music (432hz) of your favorite when you have just laid on bed. It can sound like a lullaby does to a child. You then get to sleep easily.
  • Make your sleeping environment “friendly to sleep”. I mean, you need to find a calm environment, besides making your bed calm and soft. Your bed being free of sleep inhibitors like bed bugs is also included here.
  • Avoid sleeping hours before the night arrives, or too much during the day. You’ll get tired easily in the night and starting to sleep won’t be a snag again.
  • You can take a warm bath in the evening, or just before going to bed. It makes us feel fresh and cool to sleep.
  • Sometimes, we turn and toss in bed due to some pains in our joints, pain that we can relieve ourselves of by using some massage ointment. So? You’ll find it helpful to get a message just before going to bed.

Does acupuncture help sleep with insomnia?

Acupuncture treatment for insomnia sleep incidents is still one of our models in the future, even if the treatment itself goes back thousands of years. We have explored how acupuncture and other natural modes can help treat sleep with insomnia in the previous article.

Common methods of treatment for insomnia

Cognitive behavioral therapy

This is based on helping the patient recognize and change the pressure and unpleasant thoughts associated with the inability to go to sleep at once. This is accompanied by help to correctly change behavioral responses. CBT can be managed in individual or group sessions, followed by exams.

CBT helps the patient calm down throughout the day rather than simply helping to reduce the onset time of sleep during the night. Even if the sleep time remains the same, the patient is satisfied and carefree, which has the same or better effect on health. It is very effective, overcomes the effects of drugs and is even better than when combined with drugs. It has the added advantage of having minimal adverse effects. Self-administered CBT is explored through written or audiovisual presentations, which will increase the availability of this mode of therapy. The only obstacle could be the need to standardize the documents distributed in order to comply with the principles of CBT.

Dr. Rubin Naiman, a sleep specialist at the University of Arizona Center for General Medicine, explores the concepts of medicalization and personalization and recommends looking at patients with the disease rather than those who suffer (Naiman, 2015). This is the main basic complaint, insomnia in this case, shows us the struggle of patients. However, we go beyond the main complaints to build the story of who he has become, his sleep stories and his overall psychological, emotional and physical state.

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