Insomnia is, without a doubt, a serious sleeping disorder that is usually caused by stress and anxiety. This sleeping disorder covers a broad spectrum of problems, all of which inevitably relate to both the duration and the “quality” of a person's sleep. Though the common perception of insomnia involves the inability to fall asleep, it can also cover difficulty staying asleep and the inability to sleep for prolonged periods. There is no definite amount of time that sleep is lacking to constitute insomnia, as the quality and duration varies from person to person. The variation makes diagnosing insomnia a very subjective matter, though factors such as stress and anxiety make it easier to define correctly.
Interestingly, insomnia is both an effect of a person's mental health and a reflection of it. Anxiety disorders, stress, depression, and various other mental health disorders can cause a person to develop insomnia. The main difference lies in how long the insomnia lasts. For example, performance anxiety can cause chronic insomnia in someone who has to regularly perform difficult tasks under great pressure, perceived or otherwise. Some studies have also shown that social anxiety can sometimes give a person transient insomnia, particularly before a mandatory, large-scale social gathering. However, aside from being an effect of one's mental health issues, this sleep disorder also has effects on one's psychological well-being.
It has often been said that if a person doesn't get enough sleep, they become irritable and their minds slow down. While it is false to say that the brain stops functioning while a person is asleep, most of it does go into a more relaxed state. Science has yet to figure out exactly how sleep actually helps the brain rest, but there is little doubt that it does. There is currently no concrete evidence or studies to serve as proof, but common wisdom says that if you don't sleep for an extended period, you'll eventually become clinically insane. This has yet to be definitely proven, but a lack of sleep can cause someone to develop a number of disorders if the insomnia is chronic. There is proof, however, that prolonged periods of sleep deprivation, whether caused by insomnia or otherwise, may be lethal.
The common medication that people take to deal with insomnia is the sleeping pill. There are prescription sleeping pill medications, as well as over the counter sleeping pill options. Both of them can be effective in combating insomnia, with the only real difference between the two being the relative potency of a prescription drug over an over the counter sleeping pill.
A small segment of people advocate the use of certain other drugs to treat insomnia, mainly by counting on the side-effects of medication used to treat other conditions. This approach, of course, is fraught with possible hazards, as well as being unreliable. While it is true that certain medications can cause sleepiness, not everyone is prone to such side effects, assuming that the subject actually experiences said side effect in the first place. In particular, psychoactive drugs should not be used without a prescription because these drugs can have a direct effect on the delicate chemical balance in the brain and the rest of the nervous system.
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