Understanding insomnia to better treat it
We are all likely to suffer from insomnia at some point in our lives. These episodes often take place in a context of stress and anxiety, which can - for example - be due to professional or family difficulties.
Moreover, a recent survey showed that one in three Belgians complains of sleep disorders on a daily basis, and almost 75% of them report complaints of insomnia . The ordinary nature of the complaint of insomnia will very often lead to confusion between the symptom and the pathology. This is why, through a series of articles, we will try to answer 3 questions:
1. What is insomnia?
2. How does insomnia become chronic?
3. How to treat it?
1. WHAT IS INSOMNIA?
Insomnia is characterized by dissatisfaction with the quantity or quality of sleep, associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
1. Difficulty falling asleep;
2. Difficulties maintaining sleep characterized by frequent awakenings or problems falling back to sleep after awakening;
3. Early morning awakenings with an inability to fall back to sleep.
Sleep difficulties are also the cause of significant psychological distress and/or impaired functioning during the day (fatigue, loss of motivation, disturbances in mood, concentration, etc.). Insomnia will be considered chronic if the sleep complaints have been present at least 3 nights a week for more than 3 months.
Although there are no quantitative criteria stricto sensu to characterize insomnia, experts agree that taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or spending more than 30 minutes awake in the middle of the night represent good indicators of insomnia.
Due to inter-individual differences in sleep needs, a reduction in sleep duration alone is not necessarily indicative of insomnia. So, if you sleep 6 hours a night but feel rested and fit during the day, you are unlikely to suffer from insomnia.
For more advice, do not hesitate to contact our specialist Clément Letesson.