Types of Insomnia
There are multiple ways to describe insomnia:
A brief episode of difficulty sleeping. Acute insomnia is usually caused by a life event, such as a stressful change in a person’s job, receiving bad news, or travel. Often acute insomnia resolves without any treatment.
A long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is usually considered chronic if a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights per week for three months or longer. Some people with chronic insomnia have a long-standing history of difficulty sleeping. Chronic insomnia has many causes.
Insomnia that occurs with another condition. Psychiatric symptoms — such as anxiety and depression — are known to be associated with changes in sleep. Certain medical conditions can either cause insomnia or make a person uncomfortable at night (as in the case of arthritis or back pain, which may make it hard to sleep.
Difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night.
The inability to stay asleep. People with maintenance insomnia wake up during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep.
According to SleepFoundation.org, 68 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 report experiencing symptoms of insomnia, compared with 59 percent of adults ages 30 to 64, and only 44 percent of people over the age of 65. Parents report more insomnia symptoms than adults without children in the household (66 vs. 54 percent).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) & Insomnia
Sleep is part of the natural rhythm of yin and yang qi in the body. Yin and yang qi play opposite roles – in the day, yang qi dominates as it fuels the body’s activities and keeps us warm and alert. However, as day turns into night, the cooling, quiet and nourishing yin qi dominates. It helps slow down the body’s activity so that it is relaxed and calm for a good night’s sleep. When this natural rhythm is disrupted, there is an imbalance of yin and yang qi, which results in insomnia.
Some factors that cause yin and yang qi imbalance:
- Dietary habits such as overeating, heavy meals and consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
- Emotions such as anger, sorrow and extreme happiness
- Exhaustion from activities such as excessive exercise, or overstimulation of the brain
- Prolonged illness
- Old age
Insomnia can also be the symptom of a larger health issue. If left untreated, energy levels can be affected, which can have dire consequences on work performance, overall health and quality of life.