Insomnia and Substance Abuse
Lack of Sleep is a Common Complaint
The inability to get a good night sleep is something that most people will have to face from time to time. It is estimated that 10% of people suffer from chronic insomnia while up to 50% of the population will have been affected by it at some point in their life. Sleep is vital for good mental health, and it doesn’t take long before a lack of it starts to cause problems. There are different techniques that are good for promoting sleep. In insomnia is persistent then it is important that people seek medical help.
Types of Insomnia
Insomnia can be classified into different types including:
* Transient insomnia refers to a lack of sleep over a period of less than a week. This is the most common type of insomnia, and it can be caused by factors such as stress or problems in the sleeping environment such as noise.
* Lack of sleep will be classified as acute insomnia if it lasts for more than one week but less than one month.
* Chronic insomnia refers to sleep problems that last longer than a month.
It is also possible to divide insomnia into co-morbid insomnia and primary insomnia. With co-morbid insomnia it may be caused by medications or other medical conditions. In primary insomnia it is not caused by another disorder.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be triggered by a number of different causes including:
* Substance abuse – particularly stimulant type drugs
* Side-effect of certain medications; for instance, some allergy medicines can cause insomnia in some users
* Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia. People have so much on their mind that they are unable to fall asleep.
* A change in sleeping patterns can trigger insomnia. An example of this would be jetlag.
* If people consume a lot of food before going to bed it can keep them awake. This may be due to feeling bloated or because of indigestion.
* If people are anxious about something it can be hard to get to sleep.
* Drinking a lot of caffeine in the evening can mean that people find it hard to fall asleep.
* Those who follow an irregular sleep pattern are more at risk of developing insomnia.
* Health problems and chronic pain can lead to insomnia.
* Those who are going through withdrawal symptoms following substance abuse may suffer from insomnia
* People who have become over reliant on sleeping medication can suffer from insomnia if they try to stop these drugs.
The Effects of Insomnia
Insomnia can lead to deterioration in both mental and physical well-being. The common effects include:
* Inability to concentrate
* Lack of energy throughout the day
* Weight gain because of lack of activity
* Increased risk of accidents
* Reduced functioning of the immune system
* Increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
* Slowed reaction time
* Inability to enjoy life
* Anxiety problems
Substance Abuse and Insomnia
Lack of sleep can be a common cause of complain for substance abusers. This is particular true for those individuals who become reliant on uppers and downers. Those who rely on depressants like alcohol to get to sleep may struggle when the substance isn’t available. Those who abuse stimulants will commonly suffer from long bouts of insomnia that can damage their mental health leading to paranoia and psychosis.
Those who break away from substance abuse will often have to deal with withdrawal symptoms. This can involve a period of time where it is difficult to sleep. This problem will usually resolve after a few weeks away from alcohol or drugs.
How to Deal with Insomnia
There are many things that people can do in order to promote sleep:
* Avoiding caffeine or nicotine close to bedtime
* It is a good idea to remove all forms of entertainment from the bedroom. This is because the mind needs to associate going to bed with just sleeping and not with watching TV or any other activity.
* It is a good idea for people to get out of bed if they can’t sleep. This is to avoid building an association between lying in bed and staying awake.
* Relaxation techniques are a great way to deal with stress and promote sleep.
* It is important to have a regular sleeping pattern.
* Regular exercise has been shown to help people sleep better at night.
* It can be a good idea to stop napping during the day. That way the body will be tired when it comes time to go to bed.
* Avoid eating a lot of food before going to bed.
* Avoid substance abuse
* Learn effective coping strategies for dealing with stress
* Progressive muscle relaxation or peaceful visualizations
* If insomnia is persistent it is important to seek medical advice