Tag: chronic insomnia

Genetic variants may be an underlying factor in insomnia

Insomnia and Your Genes

If you suspect there’s a biological component to your insomnia, you’re probably right. Although talk about insomnia is mostly confined to situational triggers as well as habits and attitudes that keep insomnia alive, all models of chronic insomnia assume the existence of predisposing factors. Some of these factors may be inherited at birth.

What evidence is there for genetic involvement in insomnia, and where might it lead? A review published recently in Brain Sciences brings us up to date.

Persistent trouble sleeping can develop from years of shift work

“Sleep Was Easier to Give Up Than the Job”

Several people I interviewed for The Savvy Insomniac blamed their insomnia on stress at work. A trial lawyer attributed his nighttime wake-ups to “mostly job related stress.” A 52-year-old woman on Social Security disability saw her insomnia as resulting from 14 years of shift work as a dispatcher with emergency services.

Work can interfere with sleep in many ways, including shortening sleep duration. The CDC has just released a report on the categories of work most likely to shorten people’s sleep. Here’s what they are and how they may relate to chronic insomnia.

New guideline for sleeping pills may change doctors' prescribing habits

Sleeping Pills: New Prescribing Guidelines

Let’s say you go to the doctor hoping to get a prescription for sleeping pills to relieve your insomnia. You’ve been through cognitive behavioral therapy and it has helped. But there are nights when you’re wound up so tightly that nothing—push-ups, meditation, a hot bath—will calm you down enough so you can get a decent night’s sleep. What then?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently released a clinical practice guideline for the medical treatment of chronic insomnia in adults. Here’s what the academy now recommends.

Chronic insomnia and depression are linked and presaged by poor quality sleep and sadness

Get Help for Sadness and Poor Quality Sleep

About 44% of people with insomnia also have a mental illness such as depression or generalized anxiety. So it’s no surprise that in healthy female college students there’s a relationship between sleep and mood, or affect.

But just what that relationship is—and how normal variations in sleep and affect might morph into insomnia and/or a mood disorder—hasn’t been established. Here’s what researchers at Kent State University and Henry Ford Hospital have found out.

Anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, & depression respond to treatment with CES

Anxiety? Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation May Help

If you have chronic insomnia, you may have developed anxiety about sleep. I had lots of sleep-related anxiety until I went through sleep restriction. Once my sleep stabilized, the anxiety disappeared.

Studies have shown that cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is modestly effective at controlling anxiety. It’s FDA approved and widely used in the armed forces for anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, and depression.

Insomniac dreams can be scary

The Stuff Insomniac Dreams Are Made Of

Back when my insomnia was chronic, I had a lot of scary dreams. They left me with a pounding heart and fear that could keep me awake for a couple of hours.

Surprisingly little is known about the dreams of people with insomnia. So when a new article about insomnia sufferers’ dreams came out in Sleep Medicine, I snapped it up.

Insomnia may be something that doctors avoid bringing up

Insomnia: Still Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I went to my family physician for a routine physical last week. I hadn’t had one in a while, so I decided to get the exam and requisitions for the usual blood work.

This doctor is one whose opinions I respect. But I never hesitate to speak up when information I have leads me to question those opinions. One topic we’ve had discussions about is insomnia and sleeping pills.

Insomnia sufferers may be remembering dreams of sleeplessness rather than lying awake for hours

Insomniacs: Are We Dreaming About Sleeplessness?

Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) is when most dreams occur. Episodes of REM sleep also help defuse negative emotions and improve the learning of motor skills.

Until recently, insomnia wasn’t thought to be a problem of REM sleep. Insomnia, the thinking went, was caused mainly by phenomena occurring—or failing to occur—during quiet, or non-REM, sleep: insufficient deep sleep, for example, or wake-like activity occurring in other stages of non-REM sleep, resulting in insufficient or poor sleep.

In the past few years, though, REM sleep has become a suspect in the quest to identify what causes people to wake up frequently in the middle of the night and too early in the morning. (This type of insomnia is called sleep maintenance insomnia). Here’s more about this intriguing proposition.