Symptoms Of Primary Insomnia: Causes & Alternative Treatment

Primary insomnia is sleeplessness that is characterized by the following:

  • Cannot initiate sleep; for more than a month.
  • Cannot maintain sleep.
  • Having a non restorative sleep.
  • Sleep disturbance which causes considerable impairment in social, occupational, or other important aspects of day to day functioning.
  • The sleep disturbance does not occur as a consequence to drug or alcohol dependence or a mental disorder.

Symptoms of primary insomnia include:

  • Sleeplessness for more than a month.
  • The sleep disturbance varies from mild to severe.
  • It manifests as difficulty falling asleep or frequent awakenings during the night.
  • The individual tends to be more overwrought and discontented compared to good sleepers. Emotionally, they suppress their feelings and deny problems.
  • The insomnia persists over the entire life span and is usually aggravated by stress.

Main Causes Of Primary Insomnia

Sleeplessness without any medical, psychological, or environmental causative factors is divided into 3 subgroups:

  • Psycho-physiological insomnia: In a person who used to sleep well previously, the insomnia commences as a result of long drawn out period of stress. Anxiety and tension due to stress causes awakening. In most people, as the stress reduces, normal sleep habits get re-instated since the bad sleep habits have not gotten reinforced.
    On the other hand, in some, the bad habit gets reinforced, and the individual worries about his sleep, and sleeplessness continues for years, even after the stress has gone away.
  • Idiopathic insomnia: There could be no known cause for the sleeplessness and may be as a consequence to an anomaly in the neurological control of the sleep-wake cycle involving areas of the brain responsible for wakefulness and sleep. You may have a dysfunction in the sleep state that predisposes you towards wakefulness.
  • Sleep state misperception: The individual tends to complain of sleeplessness without any symptoms of sleep disturbance.

Natural Remedies For Primary Insomnia

  • Steer clear of caffeine, more so, after afternoon.
  • Eliminate tobacco and alcohol.
  • Do not consume heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Avoid daytime naps and establish a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up.
  • Ensure that you exercise daily to battle stress better; however, never exercise close to bedtime, it makes you more alert.
  • Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and reduce distraction from noise and light.
  • Use the bed only for sleep and intimacy.
  • Do not force yourself to sleep. Go into another room if you are unable to fall asleep in about half an hour, and return to your bed only if sleepy.
  • Get up at the same time every morning in spite of how little you’ve slept the previous night.
  • Avoid daytime napping.

Alternative Therapies For Primary Insomnia

  • Hypnotics are agents that promote sleep and are usually the mainstay of short-term treatment of primary insomnia. Confer with your health care provider what is best for you. Use the lowest effective dose, for a short time; about 2 weeks. Terminate usage after slowly tapering it down.
  • Stimulus control therapy: It is done to re-establish the connection between the bed and sleep by prohibiting the person from engaging in non sleep activities while in bed. Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Relaxation therapy: The person is taught to recognize and control stress and anxiety. He is taught progressive muscle relaxation through a series of exercises comprising of tensing and then relaxing the muscles in an organized way.
  • Cognitive therapy: Person-specific activities that are linked to thinking which disturbs sleep, challenging their authority, and substituting them with alternatives such as re-attribution teaching and attention changing.