Do you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep? You’re not alone. A recent study by Laval University, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found that 40 percent of Canadians are affected by sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea. People who suffer from insomnia experience the following symptoms:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (i.e., taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or being awake for longer than 30 minutes during the night.)
- Lack of restorative sleep
- Daytime symptoms such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, and mood disturbances
According to Dr. Charles Morin, psychiatry professor at Laval University, “It’s surprising to see that so many people experience insomnia symptoms, but relatively few of them are actually doing something about it, like seeking professional help.” In this particular study, which involved over 2000 participants, only 13 percent of the 40 percent with sleep difficulties had addressed the issue with their healthcare provider.
The fact that only a handful of those who suffer from sleep disorders seek help is troublesome. On the contrary, the study found that most insomniacs self-medicate, using natural products, over-the-counter drugs or alcohol in an effort to get some sleep. Dr. Morin explained that the high rate of insomniacs self-medicating is worrisome, as many of the products they use are not regulated by Health Canada.
Sustained insomnia treatment requires professional help. In most cases, individuals require a combination of medication with cognitive behavioural therapy – a treatment that uses psychological and behavioural methods such as relaxation techniques and education – to fully treat insomnia and restore normal sleep patterns.
When left untreated, insomnia can lead to a range of more devastating disorders including depression, diabetes, and heart disease. If you experience any of the insomnia symptoms detailed in this blog, ask your physician about consulting a sleep specialist. Wake-up! The reality is that insomnia does not go away on its own and cannot be ignored.