Restorative sleep gives your body the chance to recuperate and regenerate. Without it your body and mind become weary and easily malfunction. Illnesses and viral or bacterial infections result, giving rise to severe illness and general malaise.
Insomnia can affect you at any age, although you become more susceptible to it as you get older.
Insomnia can be divided into two categories:
* Sleep Onset Insomnia and Sleep Maintenance Insomnia.
* Sleep Onset Insomnia is shown as an inability to fall asleep.
Sleep Maintenance Insomnia is shown as an inability to stay asleep, or to wake frequently .
It is possible for you to suffer both sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia, leading to chronic sleep deficiency.
There are varying degrees of insomnia in both duration and severity:
* Temporary insomnia lasts from one night to a few weeks. It has a known cause and is an interruption to your body clock, e.g. when you are suffering from jetlag.
* Short-term insomnia can last from two to three weeks and again has a known emotional or psychological cause, e.g. stress over a particular factor, like work.
* Intermittent insomnia is more difficult and vague. It is unpredictable in terms of the number of episodes and their duration, and can be attributable to both emotional and physical causes.
Finally, chronic insomnia can take place on most nights and may last indefinitely.
Insomnia can be caused by physical, emotional and psychological factors, with stress being a major contributor.
Other factors include:
* Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
* Medical illness, e.g. heart disease, respiratory disease, or disorders of the digestive system that cause physical discomfort or psychological stress or anxiety, resulting in sleep disturbance.
* Heartburn, menopause, diabetes and arthritis.
* Periodic limb movement disorder – a frequent involuntary leg movement – or restless leg syndrome with a tickling or aching sensation in the muscles of the legs.
* Lifestyle factors – caffeine, alcohol, drug use, work patterns and prescription medications.
Biological factors are also a consideration as sleep may become lighter and more disjointed as you age. Your inbuilt biological sleep regulator can malfunction, encouraging you to remain awake longer, but also sleep longer, or to sleep earlier but rise early too.
Psycho physiologic ("Learned") insomnia is also more common than perhaps first thought. This is an inability to sleep through the worry of being unable to sleep!