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What is insomnia ?

Insomnia is a sleeping disorder characterized by difficulty sleeping.

The main consequence of insomnia is the accumulation of sleep deprivation. This results in general tiredness, irritability, daytime sleepiness and decreased concentration.

Some individuals do not require many hours of sleep in order to properly function. They are not considered to be insomniacs.

Technically, insomnia is a symptom and not a pathology. Treating insomnia demands that the underlying cause be uncovered and managed.

Experiencing a few sleepless nights isn’t lethal, however, chronic sleep deprivation can become very harmful.

What are the different types of insomnia?

There are 2 types of insomnia:

Primary insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep that is not related to health or other problems.

Secondary insomnia: An individual has sleep problems that are related to health problems, medication, substances (alcohol, drugs…) and stress.

It can be subdivided into 2 categories:

Acute insomnia: Caused by a specific event (death, divorce, loosing a job etc.). This kind of insomnia may last a couple of weeks.

Chronic insomnia: When insomnia occurs at least 3 times a week for a period of 1 month. It can be related to chronic pain, chronic stress, depression, anxiety etc.

What are the main causes of insomnia?

There are physical and environmental factors that may influence your sleep such as:

  • Different lights in the room (opacity of the curtains, alarm clock, etc…)
  • Noise (spouse’s snoring, exterior noise, etc.…)
  • Food (a heavy meal or a late meal)
  • Alcohol, drugs…

However the most common causes are :

  • Stress (love life, work and everyday life…)
  • Health problems, financial problems…

Does your spouse snore?

Greater Montreal Sleep Clinic may have the solution for you; come meet our specialists to learn more about the different treatments available to stop the snoring.

To find out more about us:

Snoring Problems

We suggest taking a quick online test (8 questions) to evaluate your daytime sleepiness.

Take the test:

Epworth Sleepiness Scale Test

What are the main consequences of insomnia ?

It is important to treat insomnia because the consequences can affect your daily life and may also become dangerous for you and other people around you.
Fatigue, often seen by intensive drowsiness while awake. This may be dangerous when you are working or driving.
Increased irritability. Your social life can be tainted by this behaviour.
Memory loss and difficulty concentrating. These consequences will compromise your performance at work and your quality of life.

Insomnia may worsen your symptoms such as : headaches, increased body pain, digestive problems, etc.

There are other sleep disorders that may reduce your sleep quality such as:

Restless legs syndrome 
This sleep disorder is characterized by an unpleasant sensation in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move the legs during a relaxation period.
Sleep apnea
It is a breathing pause which lasts 10 seconds or more and may happen many times during the night.  These breathing pauses can cause conscious or unconscious arousals. The quality of sleep is diminished and your body will not recover properly. This explains why people are tired when they wake up in the morning.
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When sleep is disturbed by a problem, it is important to consult a sleep professional in order to obtain the right treatment for you.
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There are primary factors that may be related to your sleep disorder:

  • Chronic pain caused by arthritis or other diseases;
  • Depression;
  • Respiratory distress (heart failure, lung disease);
  • Need to go to the toilet during night (nycturia);
  • Gastro-œsophageal reflux;
  • Hyperthyroidism;
  • Parkinsons;
  • Alzheimers

If you are diagnosed with any of these diseases and you believe it may disrupt your sleep, contact your doctor for further information.

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