This is truly a remarkable time we are living in. While nature is quickly benefiting from the lock down and even the ozone hole has filled up, humans and their health is on the down slide. And this refers to both the physical health as well as the mental health. Lets take a closer look and understand whats really happening.
2020 has been really tough since the beginning. People start the year with high hopes and this year started no different. People planned to improve their health as well and were quite underway to improve it by the time Covid-19 and Corona struck worldwide since February 2020. The pace at which Corona spread is mind boggling given the figures. Putting immense pressure on governments, health authorities as well as the economy itself. We have seen all economies spiral downwards and even the stock markets crash beyond recession levels and it is said to be worse than the Great American Depression in 1920’s and 1930’s.
Surprisingly the Covid-19 situation and Corona related effects quickly reflected on individuals be it the typical salaried individual, the small business man or even the large corporations. None were spared. As Corona infections spread globally and governments struggled to contain it and the ensuing lock down were all cumulative effect was a lot of working capital dried up in the following 2 months. Resulting in cutting businesses, closing shops and establishments, mass salary reductions or layoffs, both of which have become common.
This has a grave effect on the individual and his lifestyle. From a daily routine perspective, the individual became locked into his apartment either alone or with friends and family, both of which were not really ideal conditions. No one likes to be locked down or locked in. It feels like a cage and anyone caged in always has a negative influence. The effect of this can be strongly felt on the human body which lacks any physical activity and movement necessary for maintaining muscle activity and strength. People started gaining weight and often over eat to compensate for emotional issues and emotional outbursts during this time. This had also a direct impact on the mental well being of all people. The feeling of being locked in produced feelings of anxiety, tension, sadness, being overwhelmed, excessive worrying, lack of freedom, mental stress at the visible level. This was evident in everyone facing lock down and people go caught in a never ending chain of thoughts about past and future events. Freedom and ability to move freely anywhere without fear is crucial to mental well being of any living being.
The underlying causes can be many but this overall caused a deterioration in mental health as well as quality of sleep. Due to low physical activity, people found it difficult to fall asleep which over a period of time gave rise to insomnia which is the same behavior observed over a period of time. Suddenly Insomnia and Sleep disorder were the most common symptoms reported all over the globe. Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder in which the individual can have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. There are other sleep disorders, but there has been significant rise in Insomnia during this period. The kind of insomnia and sleep disorder we have mentioned is not the chronic variety but rather short term one due to lock down. This can however, turn into the long term variant if proper care is not taken. Insomnia can be divided into Acute and Chronic. Acute one will typically last from few days to a fortnight occurring every few days. Chronic one is longer lasting and can last upto 6 months as well if proper care is not taken.
Insomnia definition: Insomnia is basically defined by Medical Science as “your brain unable to stop being awake”. National Sleep Foundation, a body associated with studying human sleep patterns, reported that 30-40% Americans suffered insomnia within the last 12 months. And that overall 10-15% adults have chronic insomnia.
Insomnia reasons: Why people become insomniac? Human brain has wake-cycle and a sleep-cycle both of which never work together. Its one or the other. Too much of too much wake drive or too little sleep drive can be harmful.
- Primary Insomnia: Reasons behind primary insomnia are low Mental well being. Happiness level is low. All time high Stress. Negative feelings. Depression. Sadness due to loss of business, job, loved one, environmental (sound, noise, light, weather, temperature, travel, work ours), jet lag, bad habits or any other unpleasant trigger in the environment around the individual. All of these factors are emotional and have nothing to do with the physical body.
- Secondary Insomnia: Reasons behind secondary insomnia are chronic sleep disorder, health issues, treatment for some injury/health related problem, medications, late nights, night shifts, odd shifts, etc and are related to the physical body of the individual.
What is Sleep Apnea? Another sleep disorder related to insomnia is Sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea typically happens when the person’s airway becomes completely or partially obstructed during sleep. Due to this there are pauses in sleep and also lead to reduced oxygen levels. As sleep is a subconscious activity, any such blockade alerts the brain, which in turn breaks the sleep rhythm and the person wakes up to correct the situation and clear the airway. This is also typically seen in people who snore heavily and can happen throughout the night. Sleep apnea symptoms and effects are similar to symptoms of Insomnia. Treatment for sleep apnea varies from case to case basis and certainly needs medical help. The Doctor/ Physician/ Medic will conduct a sleep apnea test and in some cases recommend a sleep apnea machine. Sleep apnea machine is known as CPAP machine and is expensive at around 3000USD and many medical insurance companies cover the cost of PAP and BiPAP bilevel devices. Sleep apnea is not considered a disability by Social Security Administration (SSA). However there are listings for heart issues, mental deficits and breathing disorders. In case anyone fullfills the criteria of any one of the listings due to your sleep apnea, the affected person will automatically qualify for all disability benefits.
Medical reasons behind insomnia or sleep disorder are Asthma, Pain (Chronic or non chronic), nasal allergies, hypertension and high blood pressure, Arthritis, also medication taken for heart disease, birth control, depression, common cold, thyroid etc.
Globally an estimated 10-15% of the population usually suffer from insomnia of some degree or the other. All the above causes result in the person having Waking during the night, irritability, mental fatigue, exhaustion, daytime fatigue, tiredness/sleepiness through the day, feeling uncoordinated, lack of concentration and focus, drowsiness, headaches, difficulty socializing, inability to think, remember and recollect properly, all day constant physical and mental fatigue, and several more.
This is an overall description and surely does not mandate a hospital/ doctors visit for validation. However, doctor can help diagnose exact cause of the issue and may provide tips to break the cycle or give some medication to ease the individual into regular sleep patterns. Its important to keep a sleep diary so you can track how much you slept each day. 8 hours sleep is recommended for an individual, however individual preferences may way from 6-9 hours. Anything less than this and the body will show signs that its actually suffering.
The worst part of insomnia is lack of sleep spills over the next couple of days until the body somehow jumps back to its normal rhythm. Meaning if you slept late one day, you will probably have a short nap in the day to compensate. This will again lead to late sleep the following night. Its a pattern tough to break sometimes. Often a give and take between low sleep compensation in the daytime to ensure regular sleep during the night.
Treatment for Insomnia: How to cure Insomnia? There is hardly any treatment for Insomnia as its just a matter of getting back into natural sleep pattern. The quickly you ease into it, the quickly you get rid of Insomnia. For this physical exercise is recommended along with healthy dose of natural foods so as to put less stress on your body’s digestive system. Sleeping pills can be recommended by the doctor only after thorough investigation, but its not recommended in the long run. Sleep is a natural process and the body should be able to get into it with least effort.
- I will leave a few good tips for preventing or curing Insomnia
Maintain a pattern of sleep and wake times, you are well aware of your regular cycle and so try to follow it as much as possible. Get into bed 10-15 mins prior to your sleep time so you can settle down. Wake up at the same time even if you have insomnia and avoid day naps so that your body is naturally tired by nighttime and you can easily fall asleep. Inculcate good sleep habits. This is good sleep hygiene.
- Keep a diary to record all your sleep times. This over a period of few months will give you an understanding your natural cycle and exactly why and where the problems began. you can refer to this next time you have the problem.
- Have some Insomnia Cookies. Essentially all this means is that Dietary lifestyle has to change, atleast for few days till the issue is resolved. Coffee and Tea contain Caffeine/Nicotine. These stimulants will affect you and keep you from falling asleep. Reduce your intake of caffeine through the day and especially after evening. Alcohol can get you to sleep quickly but can also wake you up in the middle of the night when the effect wears off. So best to avoid alcohol. Eat well. Neither light nor heavy. Just right.
- Make the environment around you cozy and easy to sleep. Comfortable bed, comfortable light, comfortable temperature. Maybe soft soothing music, aromatic smells, anything that relaxes you and induces sleep. Take a bath if it helps. Some people have been understood to masturbate to relax themselves and ease the tensions or worries of the day. You can also indulge in sex as long as it relaxes you. Close your eyes and meditate to help your body and mind relax. Sleep in a comfortable position, normally everyone has a favorite sleep position. Keep worries for the morning. Isolate from all the worries you have.
- Try to finish with a light dinner a few hours before bedtime. Having heavy meals closer to your bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Eating too much dinner may cause discomfort and will make it difficult for your body to settle down and interfere with your sleep. If a glass of milk helps your body relax before sleep, have it. Avoid books, phones and other distractions on the bed. If you must read, read something that makes you happy and relaxed and not wide awake and alert. Use a sleeping mask if necessary. Use earbuds if there is noise around you.
- Exercise regularly during the day to strengthen you muscles and also make the body tired by bedtime. Don’t exercise few hours before bedtime as it increases Cortisol levels and may instead keep you awake all night.
I am sure the above information will help you in treatment and cure of Insomnia and also for treatment of sleep apnea. If you follow the tips and information carefully, the sleep disorder problems of Insomnia and Sleep Apnea will gradually fade away. Cheers to Good Health.