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Sleeping Disorders Series: The Concise Guide to Insomnia

March 06, 2018


Sleeping Disorders: The Concise Guide to Insomnia

As bed supply specialists, we are frequently asked to recommend sleeping surfaces that will improve the experience of individuals who suffer from sleeping orders. Over the course of the next few articles we will take a look at the most current definitions of a few of the most well-known sleeping disorders. Today we begin with insomnia, which is defined as habitual sleeplessness; or the inability to fall asleep.

What Is the Definition of Insomnia?

Insomnia, frustratingly enough, can manifest in countless different ways due to countless different triggers. It is by far the  most common disorder, and is known as DIMS (Difficulty Initiating and Maintaining Sleep) in clinical terms. Each individual case is normally classified according to a) the duration of the symptoms and b) the individual's overall sleep pattern. As such, there are five broad categories:

Pertaining to sleep duration:

  1. Acute/short-term insomnia: Individual has had symptoms for <3 months.
  2. Chronic/long-term insomnia: Individual has had symptoms for >3 months.
  3. Adjustment/transient insomnia: This occurs when an individual finds themselves in a new environment and their circadian cycle is out of sync (e.g. jet lag when travelling).

Pertaining to sleep pattern:

  1. Sleep-onset insomnia: An individual takes a long time to fall asleep, but once they do they can sleep through the night.
  2. Sleep-maintenance insomnia: An individual wakes often during the night and suffers from fragmented sleep.

Until 2015, insomnia was divided into two separate classifications, namely primary insomnia (sleeping difficulties that arise independently of other illnesses) and secondary insomnia (sleeping difficulties that arise  as a result from a medical condition or bodily injury). However, revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), did away with this distinction, which places the emphasis on treating insomnia as a disorder whether or not there are contributing factors, in which case the primary disease should simply be treated as well.

Temporary insomnia can be triggered by factors such as stress, illness, pain, and diet, as well as certain medications and disruptions to circadian rhythms.

What Are the Symptoms of Insomnia?

Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Sleepiness & fatigue
  • Decreased alertness & performance
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches
  • An overly emotional state (i.e. being cranky).

What Kinds of Treatment are Available?

The treatment for insomnia depends on the nature of the individual case and how it presents. It often includes medication or behavioral strategies, or a combination of the two. If you suspect that you suffer from insomnia, it is recommended that you seek advice from a medical professional. Your day-to-day healthcare provider will be able to interpret your symptoms and provide you with contact information of a specialist if required.

The information contained herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.


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