Insomnia is a symptom, not a stand-alone diagnosis or a disease. By definition, insomnia is “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both” or the perception of poor quality sleep. Insomnia may therefore be due to inadequate quality or quantity of sleep, it is not defined by a specific number of hours of sleep that one gets, since individuals vary widely in their sleep needs and practices. Although most of us know what insomnia is and how we feel and perform after one or more sleepless nights, few seek medical advice. Many people remain unaware of the behavioral and medical problems related to insomnia.
Disrupted sleep refers to any condition in which sleep doesn’t follow a normal cycle. Causes of disorders that fall into this category are varied and include Sleep Apnea, Parasomnia, REM sleep disorder and delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS).
Sleep Apnea occurs when a person periodically stops breathing, skipping at least one breath or more during sleep and can lead to daytime drowsiness and fatigue.
Parasomnia is unwanted physical motion or activity while asleep. Sleepwalking, sleep talking, bedwetting and night terrors are all examples of this disorder.
REM sleep disorders are also a type of parasomnia. During REM sleep we usually experience atonia, a temporary paralysis that prevents us from moving while we dream. With REM sleep disorder atonia is not experienced and dreams are physically acted out. This can range from simply grunting and shouting to more violent actions like fighting which could endanger themselves or their bed partner.
Some of the common factors that may contribute to disrupted sleep include; a poor diet, drug and alcohol use, inadequate exercise, mood disorders, an inadequate sleep environment and use of certain prescription medications.
Identifying the underlying cause of disrupted sleep is key to determining proper treatment and getting sleep patterns back on track. Without treatment, disrupted sleep can cause people to suffer from:
- Blurry vision
- Mood swings
- Poor memory
- Trouble learning.
Over time, if disrupted sleep persists, it may lead to the development of more serious conditions such as hypertension and heart disease.
Sleep patterns or insomnia are usually externally driven by events or worries in our lives and these play on our mind. Once these have been unconsciously resolved through a treatment of hypnotherapy sessions, the old sleep patterns are usually restored quite quickly.