- Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder for adults worldwide.
- It is estimated that about 30% of us complain of ongoing sleep disruption, and 10% have symptoms of functional impairment caused by insomnia.
- By definition, people with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early and not being able to return to sleep, or waking up feeling un-refreshed.
- Depending on the cause of the insomnia, which a Sleep Test would assist our Sleep Physician in determining, a therapy or treatment plan can be established.
What is Insomnia?
Experiencing insomnia means you must function with some or all of the symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance at work.
Acute insomnia is relatively brief, and is usually caused by life (anxiety, stress, bad news, personal problems, runaway brain)
Chronic insomnia is when this happens for three nights a week over a 3 month period.Fortunately, insomnia is treatable.
But, the causes of insomnia are quite wide ranging, which means treatments need to be specific to your situation and circumstances to be effective.
It is important to remember that Insomnia is a symptom.
Your brain is usually in either wake cycle, or sleep cycle, and insomnia is believed to be a cycle problem, where you have too much sleep drive, or too much wake drive.
This can be caused by many things physical, biological, mental and some substances. Below is a shortlist of more common or known possible causes.
Some causes lead to insomnia, and others have symptoms that cause discomfort that makes sleeping difficult.
Medical Causes of Insomnia
- Allergies (nasal/sinus)
- Apnea (untreated causes wake events, and nocturia)
- Arthritis (mostly positional pain)
- Asthma (respiratory issues, or anxiety about respiratory issues)
- Chronic Pain / Lower Back Pain (can’t get comfortable enough to sleep)
- Endocrinol/Hormonal Issues (like Hyperthyroidism)
- Medications taken for colds and nasal allergies, hypertension, heart disease, thyroid, birth control, asthma and depression
- Neurological Conditions (like Parkinson’s disease)
- Gastrointestinal problems (like Reflux)
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Anxiety – any cause of mental over-stimulation like stress, tension, responsibilities, past and future events, even worrying about sleep,. can stop you from getting to sleep, or getting back to sleep.
- Depression – a double whammy. Depression can cause insomnia, and insomnia can exacerbate depression.
- Afternoon Naps (for some people these can make it hard to get to sleep at night)
- Alcohol consumption (alcohol is a sedative that wears off during the night)
- Bright / Blue Light (can disrupt your circadian rhythm)
- Caffeine & Nicotine (They are stimulants that may keep you awake, so consumption timing is important)
- Late Meals (heavy meals can cause digestion discomfort, and spicy foods can cause heartburn)
- No Wind Down Time (working at home in the evening can be overstimulating, and screen light can cause circadian misalignment)
- Sleeping in late to make up for lost sleep (confuses your circadian rhythm)
- Shift Work (for a million years now, we have slept at night)
- Travel (Jet-Lag and temperature changes will disrupt your circadian rhythm)
- The Unknowns
Some people are biologically pre-disposed to insomnia, and struggle regardless of the advice that they follow. Neurotransmitters, and/or chemical reactions are probably the cause.
Changing your sleep habits and addressing any issues that may be associated with insomnia, such as stress, medical conditions or medications, can restore restful sleep for many people. If these measures don’t work, our sleep doctor may recommend Medicinal Cannabis. Our patients achieve amazing results with this therapy and we receive messages of thanks every day to thank us for finally getting them a great nights sleep.
Medicinal Cannabis for Insomnia
Over the past few years there has been increased interest from Australians in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Commonwealth, state and territory governments have used existing laws or passed specific laws to allow the prescribing and dispensing of medicinal cannabis products, as well as cannabis cultivation and manufacture for medicinal purposes.
What to do next…
Step 1 – Find the cause of your Insomnia. Have a Sleep Test to rule out breathing disorders and look at brain wave activity, such as alpha-intrusion (where the brain is very busy during sleep).
Step 2 – Consult with our Sleep Physician to discuss the Sleep Test results and findings and work out a treatment plan.