Insomnia: Factors And Prevention

Sleeping has become our Siamese twin since we were born. “We need to sleep for us to relax and gain strength for tomorrow’s tough job, as what a layman’s term would express. Perhaps, it is not a controversial issue to discuss it further when Lois Verbrugge (1994), a research scientist at the University of Michigan (Institute of Gerontology), defends his argument: Sleep and rest occupy the most time each day for both genders at all ages.

Men and women in their twenties spend an average of about seven and three fourths hours a day sleeping…Work consumes the second greatest amount of time for men until the age of 60 and form women until about the age of 40. Likewise, if a person would abuse this natural phenomenon, he would lack sleep and in this situation comes the nightmare of insomnia. Insomnia is just one of the eight categories of sleep disorder (Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007) that needs an abrupt prevention before it protrudes to a chronic case.

A lot of factors that most of us may not be aware of builds up this problem that will be later expounded in the latter part of this paper. To mention one, for instance, insomniacs tend to have a hard time catching their full blown body-and-mind rest because of thinking too much like personal problems, body aches, and whole day stress. Morning approaches and they have had only two hours of sleep just for waiting for their system to shut up. But this is just a myth.

Our body has its own biological clocks that signal darkness in the retina that is then being transmitted to the brain to command the body to rest or not, according to the study of some experts. We might have heard of stories of a person who walks while sleeping. This is perhaps not the case of an insomniac. “A sleepwalker or a somnambulist walks about the house – eyes partially open, performing a familiar act, talks with sense, and portrays blank facial expression (Macapagal & Teh, 2007, p. 113). This happens when the muscles are too relaxed and the person is under stage three and four of deep sleep.

Therefore, insomniacs can impossibly experience this abnormality because they did not even reach stage one of sleep. The need to prevent and unlock the secrets of fighting insomnia is the objective of this paper; and also to help people realize that this case is still reversible if not preventable. II. Literature Review The following articles are summarized from the work of Hara Estroff Marano published on Psychology Today and the retrieved online article of the American Psychological Association: A. “Night Life” (by Hara Estroff Marano).

When the Industrial Revolution met man, sleep for adults has been on the skids. To, survive, man needs to work, and that work is the biggest sleep robber of all. To boost productivity, adults who work at night sleep less and spend much of their time in social and leisure pursuits. This activity results to stress. Recently, scientists recognize that sleep is regulated by two different systems namely the (1) sleep homeostat and the (2) circadian rhythm. Sleep homeostat ramp up the sleep drive by two methods: (a) exercise and (b) heating the body with warm bath before bed time.

The circadian rhythm or the body’s built in biological clock is tied to cycles of light and dark. During night time, the sensors in the retina deliver message to the pineal gland tucked inside the brain. This gland produces the sleep-inducing hormone called “melatonin”. The biological clock regulates sleep and alertness. From 6p. m. to 8p. m. , the alertness force is at its maximum. After 8p. m. , the alertness begins to fade. This same system makes the body sleepiest in the morning from 4a. m. to 6a. m.

However, short-term memory is sharpest at 7a. m. Sometimes, sleep-phase disorder is falsely associated with insomnia. To distinguish between the two, experts apply the 30-30 rule; that is if it takes a person 30 minutes or more to fall asleep or if still awake within 30 minutes. Sleep-phase disorder, on the other hand is getting up in bed in the wrong time. Insomnia typically starts from anxiety – thinking of so many things while in bed – and the pain like a simple twist of a knee that torments sleep concentration.

Other insomnia factors are the false sleep compensation in the afternoon, presence of alcoholic drinks in the bedside, and excessive midnight ceiling-rumination. From these different accounts a change in body cycle takes place. The brain goes on alert just when a person needs the sleep. This is the other type of insomnia coming from a misconception and not from lack of sleep. The most powerful attack on the monster of insomnia is to do nothing at all.

The sleep homeostat corrects itself; also, taking up newer drugs like Ambien (zolpiden) and Sonata (zaleplon) improve the sleep quality without destroying the sleep architecture. Recommendations/Contributions: ? Sleep system tends to right itself after nights of insomnia if the sleeper does not adjust his schedule. ? If you’re an adolescent who finds it hard to wake up early in the morning during weekdays only, you may suffer a sleep-phase disorder and not insomnia. ? Keep your bedroom dark. Small amounts of light can disturb sleep as you age.

? Don’t stay in the bed waiting for the sleep. It’s not true that the more time you spend in bed, the more sleep you’ll get. B. “Why Sleep is Important and What Happens When You Don’t Get enough” (by the American Psychological Association). The surveys conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) from 1999-2004 reveal that more than 40 percent of the 40 million American adults suffer daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities; and 60 percent of this number are reported to having sleep problems in few nights a week or more.

According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania (School of Medicine), “a sleep-deprived person may start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask”. Groups that are at particular risk include nightshift workers, truck drivers, parents and teenagers (American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Working Group on Problem Sleeping, 1997).

Some other environmental and behavioral factors of sleep disturbance include drinking alcohol or beverage containing caffeine, traveling, a room that’s too hot or too cold and 24/7 lifestyle. Because of lack of sleep, high profile accidents can partly be attributed, according to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) in 1998. Based on the study published in the October 2004 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is more effective than the widely used sleeping pill, Ambien, in reducing insomnia.

The study involved 63 healthy people with insomnia who were randomly assigned to receive Ambien, the CBT, both or a placebo. The patients who were under CBT received 30-minute sessions over six weeks given daily exercises to “recognize, challenge and change stress-inducing thoughts”. They were also taught techniques like delaying bedtime or getting up to read if they can’t sleep after 20 minutes. At three weeks, 44 percent of the patients receiving CBT and CBT-pills combination feel asleep compared to 29 percent of the patients taking pills only.

“Standardizing sleep actually helps a person adjust his or her homeostatic mechanism that balances sleep”, said Dr. Jack Edinger of the VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Moreover, “to standardize sleep could include: going to bed when sleepy, getting out of bed when unable to sleep, prohibiting non-sleep activities in the bedroom, getting up at the same time every morning (including weekends), and avoiding daytime naps”, states Dr. Charles M. Morin, professor in the Psychology Department of the University Laval in Quebec, Canada.

Recommendations/Contributions: ? Try and wake up without an alarm clock. ? Develop a regular bedtime and go to bed at the same each night. III. Methodology This research employs a descriptive method of study since the researcher aims to describe and to discuss to triggering factors of insomnia and its prevention. This method is known as the “process, of gathering, analyzing, classifying, and tabulating about prevailing conditions, trends, processes…and then making adequate interpretation about such data…” (Calderon & Sanchez, 1995)

Information and other related idea were gathered in scholarly journals as primary sources such as Psychology Today and the American Psychological Association (APA). Secondary sources included were encyclopedia, an edited book, and an online article retrieved from the official website of the Kaiser Family Foundation. IV. Data Analysis The article written by Hara Estroff Marano provides the following areas of learning: • Observation – through this skill, the writer can easily catch the attention of the reader.

The topic actually may seem so boring for most of the reader because it is a daily norm and need not to be elaborated. By laying down observations to a certain event, new insights can be unraveled. • Facts Support – if someone is telling a gossip to a high-profiled man, he would not easily believe this. Fortunately, by providing factual and reliable information to a story, that would make a greater impact and eventually will persuade the listener to take an action. American Psychological Association is indeed like a book worm, critically taking into clear details the information they supply.

The following skills may be their secret: • Investigation – being investigative may lead to a rediscovery. This valuable practice could contribute to a more advanced study of irreversible problems and identify the main root cause of it. • Experimentation – to test a certain hypothesis, an experiment is needed. This will help in proving and verifying the validity of a phenomenon. This will also serve as strong evidence. Marano’s article stipulates an all-in-one answer in the quest for fighting insomnia. However, this article may need some updates for a common argument.

Some part of it said that the sleeping pill Ambien can effectively induce sleep; while according to the findings of APA, the Cognitive Behavior Treatment (CBT) proves it better that Ambien. No question for APA’s article. It is clearly established, research-based, and communicable and informative to the public. It gives fresh ideas and new findings which are coherently anchored on scientific researches and experiments done by different professionals (usually psychologists) studying human sleep behavior. V. Results and Discussion ? What are the factors that trigger insomnia and how to prevent it?

(The answers on this question come from the summarized ideas of the two articles on Literature Review. ) First, it must be clear that humans are destined to sleep at night and to be awaken in the daytime. This is for the reason that human body has its own biological clock that signals the pineal gland in the brain to produce sleep-inducing hormone “melatonin” when the sensors in the retina sense darkness. Now, as the new technological era advances, a need for manpower also increases; thus, nightshift workers are in demand to come up with the global market competition.

Due to the different sleep structure brought about by working at night and sleeping in the morning, a sleep-phase disorder takes place. That means when a person wants to rest, the brain thinks that the person is awake. When this abnormality prolongs into consistent months, this will lead to insomnia. Some experts use the 30-30 rule to recognize it (if it takes 30 minutes or more to fall asleep or still awake within 30 minutes). Stress is the number one cause of insomnia.

It may branch out from school or job-related pressures, a family or marriage problem, and a serious illness or death in the family. Drinking alcohol or beverage containing caffeine also adds the list; shift workers, 24/7 lifestyle, traveling, and a room that’s too hot or too cold are other related precipitant of insomnia. “Several authors have pointed out that media use such as internet, electronic games, and phone use may cause sleep disturbance…as such it is argued that media use of all types is likely to bring about time displacements especially sleep…” (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2008).

To fight insomnia, therefore, is to do nothing at all unless it comes to a chronic cycle because sleep system tends to right itself if the sleep schedule hasn’t been changed. To control it in some other cases, the following measures are best to do: ? Keep your bedroom dark to allow the pineal gland to produce melatonin. ? Don’t stay in bed waiting for sleep. Just go back later on if sleepiness strikes. ? Never use an alarm clock to wake up. It destructs sleep architecture. ? Consult a physician to undergo a series of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It would make sleep better. VI. Conclusion

Since “sleep is generally defined as an easily reversible, temporary, periodic state of suspended behavioral activity, unresponsiveness, and perceptual disengagement from the environment” (Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007), it must be clear that fighting insomnia is just like letting go of everything and setting the mood into rest; because another day will approach and insomnia will just degrade the behavioral and physiological function of the brain in manipulating muscular body kinetics gained from a poor night sleep. References American Psychological Association. (2005, February).

Why Sleep is Important and What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from http://www. apa. org/topics/whysleep. html Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. (2007). Ohio, USA: McGraw Hills Company. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2008, June). Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems: Issues and Unanswered Questions. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from http://www. kff. org/entmedia/upload/7674. pdf Macapagal, M. E. J. , Teh, L. A. (Eds. ). (2007). General Psychology for Filipino College Students. Manila, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila UP. Marano, H. E. (2003). Night Life. Psychology Today. 36 (6), 42-53.

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