How many times during the night do we toss and turn, check the clock, and find it ticking away and tell ourselves, “If I could fall asleep right now I would get at least five hours of sleep”? But, sleep doesn’t come so we continue to toss and turn. This happens to many people and may suffer from a disorder known as insomnia. People who suffer from this disorder have many complaints, and many have similar symptoms. Symptoms can vary from stress to pain to always feeling tired. Insomnia is a very difficult disease to have to live with. It is hard for both those that suffer from it and their family members.
According to Linde and Savaley’s, The Sleep Book, (1974), “the person who has trouble sleeping is not alone” (p. 9). They also claim, “An estimated thirty million people suffer from chronic insomnia” (p.9). Many non-insomniacs have occasional periods when they wonder if they’d make it through a sleepless night. Many insomniacs can’t fall asleep because of pain and discomfort. Those that can fall asleep but can’t stay asleep might be caused from depression, or too many things to worry about. In Ernest Hartmann’s The Sleeping Pill (1978) some causes of insomnia (p. 113). He states that pain and discomfort do indeed play an important part in the difficulty remaining asleep. For those having difficulty remaining asleep might be because of depression or having too much to worry about.
In Linde and Savary’s, The Sleep Book (1974), Dr. Dale C. Friend claims, “insomnia can be classified by four causes: tension, fatigue, discomfort, and in and out insomnia” (p. 100). Tension insomnia occurs mostly in executives or people who worry about their businesses. Tension builds up inside during the day and is still inside at bedtime, it won’t come out, so they tend to worry and are not able to go tot sleep. Fatigue insomnia happens when people who get tired during the day and then they take a nap in the early afternoon and as a result they cannot go to sleep at bedtime. People suffering from discomfort insomnia often complain of stomach upsets, such as ulcers, toothaches, or arthritis. This causes them to wake up during the night, which gives them discomfort. In and out insomnia occurs when patients feel that they didn’t sleep at all during the night when they really did, but only stayed in the first stages of light sleep and woke up frequently throughout the night.
Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen states in Linde and Savary’s The Sleep Book, (1974) “Insomniacs spend less time in REM sleep than normal sleepers” (p. 110). REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep is the final stage of sleep reached in a normal sleep cycle. To better understand this cycle of sleep scientists have used an electroencephalogram to measure brain waves during sleep. A normal sleep cycle consists of five distinct stages with paradoxical, or REM stage being the final stage. REM sleep is what is commonly known as deep sleep.
There are many other causes of Insomnia such as the many environmental causes said by Ernest Hartmann’s The Sleeping Pill (1978). Hartmann states, “any loud noise or sounds that can irritate or aggravate can disrupt a persons sleep” (p. 116). When trying to sleep, the littlest things can bother someone’s sleep whether hearing the bathroom water faucet dripping or even the heater coming on during the night. All these things can keep a person up all night when they are suffering from insomnia. He also claims, “there is a condition sometimes called ‘habit insomnia'” (p. 116). Habit insomnia is when something caused the insomnia in the past so when the sufferer associates it into habit. For example, when the see the bed that they have difficulty sleeping on, they condition themselves to think that they can’t sleep because of the bed, therefore they don’t sleep.
In Mendelson’s Human Sleep and It’s Disorders, (1977) Incidence of insomnia was found by doing a sampling of 1,645 persons and it was found that 14% of those tested had trouble getting to sleep, (Karacan, et. al., 1973). The results tended to be higher for women than men and as age increased. Tiller,