Expert says stress, depression risk factors for insomnia

Dr Moses Olorunfemi Alao, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, says stress and depression are major causes of insomnia or sleeplessness in people.

Alao said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Ibadan.

He said that feeling emotionally flat or hopelessness, struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry, certain medications and health problems were real causes of insomnia.

Alao defined insomnia as “the inability to get the amount of sleep needed, to wake up feeling refreshed and rested’’.

The medical practitioner described insomnia as the most common sleep complaint; it was not a single sleep disorder.

He said it was more accurate to think of insomnia as a symptom of another problem, which differs from person to person.

“It could be something as simple as taking too much caffeine during the day or a more complex issue like an underlying medical condition.

“Psychological problems that can cause insomnia include depression, anxiety, chronic stress, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Medications that can cause insomnia include antidepressants, cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine, and high blood pressure medications.

“Medical causes of insomnia include asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer and chronic pain.

“Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep despite being tired, waking-up frequently during the night and trouble getting back to sleep.

“Other symptoms include exhausting sleep, relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep, waking up too early in the morning, and day time drowsiness and fatigue,” he said.

Alao explained that insomnia could be treated and cured by changing the habits that disrupt sleep.

He said using sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep would disrupt sleep even more, over the long term.

According to him, drinking excessive coffee during the day will make it difficult to fall asleep at night.

The consultant suggested the use of sleep diary to identify insomnia and inducing habits, that reinforce sleeplessness would overcome insomnia altogether.

Alao said that other measures that could cure insomnia included making the bedroom quiet, dark and cool, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Other measures, according to him, include avoiding naps during the day, avoiding stimulating activities and stressful situations before bedtime, and avoiding caffeinated drinks.

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