Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep

Irritable, shortened attention span, weight loss, anxiety, depression. These are only a few symptoms of a not so well-known disease, insomnia. According to guidelines, insomnia is characterized or defined as a difficulty or complete inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. There are two main types of this disease known as acute or chronic insomnia. Acute being a brief bout of the disorder that usually subsides sooner rather than later. This form of insomnia can arise from certain life circumstances and is most of the time, nothing to worry about. Say you have a big test, or have additional stress caused by something that is going on in your life at that moment these things can cause acute insomnia. Small cases of acute insomnia can almost be considered normal, if it doesn’t progress to become chronic insomnia.

Insomnia can be caused by many things some of these include endocrine problems, allergies, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, a feeling of being overwhelmed by responsibilities, stimulants such as caffeine, or nicotine.  All of these are factors that do not allow your body to fully relax when it is time to sleep leading you to be restless. Most of these can cause acute insomnia which may or may not be a serious issue as some can be cut out of your lifestyle such as the caffeine or nicotine, allergies, or pain.

In some more serious cases chronic insomnia, defined by the inability to fall asleep at least 3 nights per week for more than 3 months may be caused by something more serious such as chemical imbalances in the brain. Certain neurotransmitters that are known to be involved in sleep and wakefulness may be the underlying cause. There are also many chemical interactions that may interfere with sleep that do not have any specific identifiable cause.

There are a few risk factors such as hormonal changes, mental or physical disorders, being under a lot of stress during difficult times and not having a regular daily schedule. Although, insomnia seems to affect most people at least once in their lives there are many ways to prevent it. Some of them include: Keeping your bedtime consistent day to day, including weekends. Stay active, avoid or limit naps, avoid large meals before bedtime, create a bedtime ritual or making your bedroom more comfortable.


Posted By: Matt Alexander (1)


  1. I never had thought about what could cause insomnia - I didn't really know it was caused by anything, I thought it just kind of happened. Cool blog post!

    -- Hannah Kullberg (2)

  2. I would have never known that not being able to fall asleep due to exam stress or other kinds of stress is still considered acute insomnia, and that is normal. Makes me wonder if the amount of stress we are subjected to at this day and age is normal, or we will evolve to cope with it even better!

    - Rund Tawfiq (3)

  3. It’s shocking how many people have suffered from insomnia. I have experienced insomnia many times. I have never had problems sleeping as a child, but as I have gotten older, I have experienced insomnia more and more. For me, stress and anxiety have big effects on my sleeping habits. You listed some good techniques to keeping a consistent bedtime. I agree that routine can play a big role. Also, I have found that staying away from screens during the end of the night, really helps me to fall asleep.

    - Angelina Weng (3)

  4. Insomnia is definitely a condition myself, as well as my family members, have self-diagnosed at one point or another. It seems so common but most people don’t realize that they are just experiencing sleeping problems rather than suffering from the condition of insomnia. In your reading, did you read about the diagnosis process? It seems as if most of the insomnia I’ve encountered with myself and my peers have been due to life circumstances rather than chemical imbalances. It is interesting to learn that chronic insomnia is defined by the inability to fall asleep for at least 3 nights per week for 3 months. Previously, I thought that one month was the cut-off date to diagnose someone with insomnia. Did you happen to read about treatment for people suffering from chronic insomnia? Hopefully we will be able to come up with some useful treatments in the future!

    -Kamilla Leao (2)

  5. I never thought about one of the causes of insomnia to be a neurological disorder involving an imbalance of neurotransmitters. I did some research and found that a substantial reduction in GABA levels can cause insomnia.

    -Sunaina Sharma (3)

  6. Reading this article made me have a better understanding of how insomnia works. The fact that anxiety and nerves can cause acute insomnia makes so much more sense to me. I myself have difficulty sleeping and never really thought about what was causing it. It takes me forever to fall asleep and if I do fall asleep its only for a short amount of time. What are possible treatments for insomnia? What helps me fall asleep is listening to my sleep playlist with peaceful sounds.

    -Tatiana Silveira (3)