Insomnia affects up to 40 percent of South Africans, contributing to depression, weight gain and negatively impacting on some couples’ sex lives.
The SA Society of Sleep medicine (SASSM) says between 30 and 40% of adults indicate some level of insomnia within any given year, while 10 to 15 percent say their insomnia is chronic. The SASSM says insomnia increases with age, is more common in women, and is categorized as follows:
- Acute insomnia: periods of sleep difficulty lasting between one night and a few weeks.
- Chronic insomnia: sleep difficulty at least three nights a week for one month or more.
- Insomnia associated with psychiatric & medical disorders: Mood and anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric diagnoses associated with insomnia.
- Insomnia associated with medication and substance use: A variety of prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, and drug abuse can lead to poor-quality sleep.
- Insomnia associated with specific sleep disorders: These include restless legs syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), sleep apnoea, and circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD).
- Primary insomnia: When other causes of insomnia are ruled out sleep difficulty may be classified as primary insomnia.
Research in the US found that the most common reason for avoiding sex was “too tired” or “need sleep”. “Worrying about not being able to fall asleep may make sex seem unappealing (and) addressing insomnia is one obvious (solution),” said a study by the Consumer Reports National Research Centre.
SA medical doctor and homeopath, Dr Erika Coertzen, says stress and anxiety are major causes of insomnia which in turn may lead to depression. “Anxiety and insomnia affects all ages and twice as many women as men,” she adds.
Coertzen says remedies for anxiety and insomnia include prescription drugs -- some of which have adverse side effects -- or over the counter and homeopathic remedies such as Sedatif PC® which may assist by providing symptomatic support of stress symptoms, restlessness and mood swings. Coertzen says those with insomnia should consult a medical professional if it becomes a pattern, and should consider the following tips:
- No daytime napping
- Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only
- No late night heavy meals
- No disruptions during bedtime
- Exercise regularly but not close to bedtime
- Maintain a regular and relaxing sleep cycle and routine
- Follow a healthy and nutritious diet; no alcohol or caffeine
- Keep a sleep schedule to monitor your sleep pattern
- Make sure your bedroom and bed is comfortable and quiet
- Avoid stress, worry and anxiety before going to bed