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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

Insomnia: Causes, Prevention and Cure

Advocacy is no cakewalk, especially for the new entrants. They are expected to work very hard day and night. Sanjeev was an idealist who believed that lawyers could use law as an instrument of change and bring about some kind of earthshaking revolution. Of course, he was no teenage dreamer, and knew very well that it takes a great amount of determination and perseverance in addition to immense hardwork to make any worthwhile change in the world. But he was prepared to try more than his best for it. So, it surprised nobody when he joined a reputed law firm after law school and went about working as hard as he could to make his mark. But success did take its price. He worked day and night, and his work days stretched longer and longer into his nights until he had no nights, only 24-hour days. He was soon diagnosed with insomnia and had to undergo extensive medical treatment.

Insomnia is described as a disorder that renders a person incapable of sleeping despite opportunity. Stress is understood to be a leading cause of insomnia. Insomniacs not only find it difficult to sleep but also fail to concentrate well when they are not attempting to sleep. Also, they are often irritable.

Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of insomnia - transient, intermittent and chronic. Transient insomnia is a just touring visitor and might stay for a single night or may last a couple of weeks, and depart. Then, there is intermittent insomnia that keeps dropping in unannounced like a chatty next door neighbour. And then there is chronic insomnia, which is a squatter of sorts that occupies your preserve unapologetically and indefinitely.


Those who experience stress or end up being subjected to extreme cold or extreme heat or get in a situation where their surrounding environment stands drastically altered are likely to have transient or intermittent insomnia. Generally, once the altered factors return to normal or the person gets accustomed to the change, insomnia vanishes. Transient and intermittent insomnias caused by a reaction to the medication also tend to disappear once the adverse affect of the drug wears away.

However, the causes of chronic insomnia are a little more complex because it is not caused by one or two factors but by a combination of those. The leading cause of chronic insomnia has been found to be depression.

There are a few substances, the use of which can cause insomnia. These are caffeine, tobacco, nicotine, alcohol and sedatives. So, if you are suffering from insomnia, smoking cigarettes and drinking too many cups of coffee are the first two things that you will most likely be asked to avoid by your doctor.

Certain medicines used in case of allergy and some of the cold medicines are also capable of causing insomnia. Additionally, emotional stress, like a breakup, can also cause insomnia.


Drastic lifestyle changes, especially change in sleep pattern, is an avoidable cause of insomnia. Unless there is no way around it, one must avoid such lifestyle changes. Also, avoid taking medicines for cold so far as you can. If you have a severe cold, try hot drinks or herbal medicines instead of going for medication. Common cold, as we all know, is caused by a number of viruses and cannot, therefore, be cured. The body develops resistance and deals with cold on its own. Medication only relieves symptoms and eases discomfort, and a few herbal, hot drinks can also help one in this regard. Go for those instead of medication. Chances of your suffering from insomnia will, thus, be significantly reduced.

Stress and depression are two major causes of insomnia. Therefore, avoid getting yourself in such situations. But then one can't really avoid stress in life. The best way to deal with stress is to stop thinking about the issue itself unless mulling over it could help the situation in some way.

Sleep well and do not change your sleep routine too often if your body does not take well to it. Some people find it easier to change sleep timings frequently without discomfort, but to most of us it might not be a great idea, as it might play havoc with our digestion and metabolism. It is, therefore, better for one to follow a healthy sleep cycle instead of playing around with it too often. A good bed time routine also helps. At bedtime you could do something that is soothing like listening to soothing music or reading. The idea is not to go to bed with a thinking or worried mind. Never take a problem to bed with you. If there is something that you can take your mind off, do something that relaxes you and switches you off the troubling thoughts instead of lying in bed thinking about it.

Those who suffer from chronic insomnia are familiar with the anxiety of waking up at night and then fearing that they wouldn't be able to go back to sleep now. The sleep thoughts start being stressful and defeat all attempts to go to sleep, thereby promoting insomnia.


The best way to cure insomnia is to deal with the cause itself. The medication can only help you to a certain degree but so long as the cause remains, the relief would be temporary. Besides, you might also develop a resistance to the drugs in the long run, which can further complicate the problem. Try relaxation techniques instead of different medications.

Insomnia must be very carefully examined by a good doctor before any medication is prescribed. Do not go for a self-diagnosis because insomnia may be due to certain preventable causes and may also be indicative of some other problem. So, as soon as you find yourself unable to sleep for a considerable period of time, pay a visit to your doctor and let him or her know about your condition and also your circumstance so as to enable him to reach an informed conclusion. And if your doctor wants you to undergo certain lifestyle changes, do take the advice seriously and do not press for ready relief medication.

Insomnia can be relieved, but what needs to be treated is the cause of insomnia and you must help your doctor do it. Popping pills does not help. So, help your doctor recognize the cause and try to take all steps that in the opinion of your doctor are necessary to get rid of insomnia in your case. This would certainly require some effort from your side, and you must co-operate because without good effort from your side, all the relief that you might get would turn out to be temporary at the end.


Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical opinion or advice.

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