Insomnia is a condition characterized by a number of complaints that can occur either individually or in combination together.
The person suffering from insomnia will have trouble either going to sleep or trouble remaining sleep and often times they will suffer from both complaints. There is often a cycle of awakening in the early morning hours, usually between 3am and 4am, and when they can sleep, their sleep is often restless and disturbed.
Insomnia typically comes and goes if it begins as a result of some dramatic life event. As the stress associated with the event subsides our sleep returns to normal.
However, it can very easily become chronic and is a much more stubborn condition to treat if complicating medical or psycho-emotional issues are involved. Research has shown that in all cases of insomnia that have been analyzed in sleep laboratories 50% have a strong depression and anxiety component with many sufferers also having understandably negative negative feelings about sleeping and their insufficiency to sleep in general.
Apart from the psychological causative factors of insomnia, there are also a number of physiological factors that can lead to sleeping difficulties.
An environment not conducive to sleeping can be a major problem. External noise, excessive light as well as an uncomfortable temperature can all lead to restless, disturbed sleeping, that if left unchecked can very easily become a pattern that is difficult to break.
Pain will naturally enough make sleeping difficult. If the pain is chronic and severe, as in the case of arthritis for example, it will make sleeping the night through very difficult.
Consuming of caffeine (coffee, cola drinks, chocolate) prior to sleep, will lead to sleeping problems in individuals who can not process and eliminate the caffeine from their body quickly enough. For these people the smallest amount of any caffeine product containing is enough to stimulate their systems to the point where they will be able to get to sleep.
Alcohol can also have a strong stimulating affect on some people provoking an adrenal response in them, not like the fight-flight response. Certainly not a qualified state to going to sleep, or staying asleep.
Bowel and bladder problems that require regular visits to the bathroom throughout the night also can play their part in creating a pattern of disturbed sleep that can unfortunately become a way of life for many people. Even more so as these types of problems tend to occur as we age when we tend not to sleep as much anyway.
Restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps, depleted blood sugar that tells us its snack time at 3 in the morning, smoking that stimulates adrenal hormone secretion, the side affects of certain medications, including sleeping pills if taken for more than a week or two, all can be primary causes of insomnia.
To treat a condition as complex as insomnia the specific cause must be found. And while there may be complicating factors, that if treated, will certainly help the insomnia sufferer, if a normal sleep pattern is to be re-established, the primary cause must be determined and treated appropriately.