Last night was one of those nights when I just couldn’t sleep.  I’m working on about 3 hours of sleep right now – yay!  It’s OK for right now but that 8PM kickboxing class is going to be rough tonight!  We all have occasional sleepless nights but when does a sleepless night become insomnia?

insomnia (1)Most sleep experts define insomnia as difficulty falling or staying asleep with the type  based on its frequency/duration.  We’ve probably all experienced acute insomnia which is characterized as brief and generally caused by life circumstances/stress.  Acute insomnia generally resolves on its own without medical intervention.   I’m diagnosing myself with this type of insomnia – and I’m guessing I’ll have no trouble sleeping tonight after I get home from the gym.

On the other hand, chronic insomnia is generally defined as interrupted sleep which happens at least 3 nights a week that lasts at least 3 months.  This kind of insomnia can have various causes like changes in environment, unhealthy living habits, underlying medical conditions to name a few.   Treatment can involve behavioral, psychological, or medical elements (or some combination of them).  If you have chronic insomnia, it’s best to work with a doctor to put together an effective treatment plan to get you back to a healthy sleep pattern.

Some fun facts about sleep:

  • According to a study published on the ScienceDirect.com website, about 12% of us dream in black & white rather than color.
  • Most people forget their dreams within 5 minutes of waking about 50% of the time.  After another 5 minutes, 90% of the memory of most dreams is gone.  Freud said that was because dreams represent repressed thought so our brains try to get rid of them.   But hey – that’s Freud!
  • Mild snoring is nearly universal.  Think you don’t snore?  At one time or another you do!
  • Humans are the only species that will voluntarily delay sleep.
  • Lack of sleep can lead to overeating.  True!  Sleep deprivation leads to a drop in the hormone that regulates appetite.  That’s why a good weight loss program should not only addresses diet and exercise, but should also include promotion of healthy sleep habits.

If you know me, you know I generally avoid caffeine because it’s kinder to everyone around me but today I may need to make an exception!  Coffee anyone?