CogniFit's Science blog: Insomnia And Your Brain – Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Insomnia And Your Brain – Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Insomnia is commonly defined as difficulty in getting to sleep or in staying asleep. It can also be typified as suffering with non refreshing sleep over a month or longer. We’ll discuss some of the causes, symptoms and common treatments.

A type of insomnia called primary insomnia is not due to any known physical or mental health conditions. It has been found that insomnia can be caused by a wide variety of factors, some related to your brain health.

Some of the more common forms of the condition include the following:

• Alcohol related. Excessive drinking can often affect the ability of a person to fall asleep or stay asleep.

• Anxiety – Stress and anxiety play a key role in making it more difficult to achieve normal sleep patterns. We often stay awake because our bodies are stressed and active from the anxiety.

• Coffee – The caffeine content in coffee can make it more difficult for a person to relax and ultimately fall asleep naturally.

• Stress – This is related to anxiety and puts the body into a heightened sense which makes it much more difficult to relax and ultimately fall asleep.

Another key type of insomnia is called secondary insomnia. It is typically caused by a medical condition like depression. Patients who suffer from insomnia which is caused by depression often seek medical attention due more to the insomnia rather than the depression.

Common symptoms of insomnia may include:

• Difficulty in falling asleep most evenings.

• Feeling tired or run down during the day due primarily to a lack of sleep the night before.

• A feeling of not being refreshed or energized when you wake up.

• Waking up several times throughout the evening after you initially fall asleep.

Many people who suffer from insomnia tend to focus on their difficulty in falling asleep. This helps to make the problem even worse.
There are a number of popular treatments for insomnia. They normally involve better sleep hygiene which includes:

• Avoiding caffeine, alcohol or nicotine just before bed

• Avoid taking daytime naps

• Avoid large meals near bedtime. Instead stick with regular meals throughout the day

• Exercise at least an hour before retiring for the evening

Most medical professionals try to use techniques which avoid the use of drugs. In many cases following some of these simple tips will have good results and help you to achieve the sleep your body requires.

Research has also shown how training your cognitive skills could help you with insomnia so you might want to try brain fitness and see what it does to you.