Primary insomnia occurs when all possible explanations for insomnia seem to be wiped out. It is also called psychophysiological insomnia because there is psychological and physiological documentation involved. This insomnia is considered an intrinsic sleep disorder because the insomnia is due to the patient's surroundings. Another intrinsic insomnia is Sleep State Misperception. People with sleep state misperception often feel that they are awake when they are actually sleeping.
Sometimes they are still aware of their surroundings as they sleep. Interestingly, even normal "Good sleepers" can misperceive sleep and wakefulness. In one study, after five minutes of stage 2 sleep, about 40 % of good sleepers thought they were still awake and 84 % of insomniacs were "certain" that they were awake. Even in this "subjective" insomnia, it should be recognized that there are some "polysomnographic abnormalities," such as more stage 1 sleep and much less slow-wave sleep, even when their total sleep hours is the same as that of normal sleepers.
Other Common Symptoms / Test Abnormalities:
There are many common traits in insomniacs. Their Multiple Sleep Latency Test results are higher than normal, meaning it takes them longer to fall asleep on cue during the day. Their metabolic rate and body temperature are also higher than normal sleepers'. Vigor usually decreases as insomnia worsens and tension and confusion are also worse. It is unknown as to whether these symptoms are the result of insomnia or whether they are precipitating factors causing insomnia. Research has found mixed results.
A Terminal Illness?
In most cases, people do not die from insomnia, although their quality of life may suffer. Fatal Familial Insomnia is an extremely rare genetically-predisposed disease in which the patient suffers initially from sleep onset insomnia (3). The sufferer's insomnia get progressively worse to total lack of sleep which leads to death within two years. Currently, there is no cure. It is known that this rare illness is associated with autonomic hyperactivity and thalamus degeneration.
Alternatives to Counting Sheep:
Here are some quick tips to fighting insomnia:
Use your bed only for sleeping; the brain will learn, "Bed=Sleep!" Make your sleeping environment as quiet as possible. If noise is inevitable, try to mask it with "white noise." Have a timer shut this off once you're asleep. Do not listen to music or watch television as you are falling asleep. Make your sleeping environment as dark as possible. Keep your bedroom temperature and your sleeping surface consistent, following your personal preferences. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, tranquilizers, and other such drugs, especially in the eight hours prior to bedtime, or long-term use of hypnotics or sleeping pills. Keep a consistent sleep / wake schedule. Avoid irregular napping.
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