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Insomnia is the most commonly reported sleep disorder. Approximately, 30% of adults have insomniac symptoms. Traditional thinking suggested that insomnia is the result of depression.

Jules Angst, MD, Zurich University Psychiatric Hospital, Switzerland, conducted 6 interviews with 591 young adults over a 20 year period. He was able to distinguish 4 subtypes of insomnia:

  • One-month insomnia (associated with significant distress).
  • Insomnia lasting 2-3 weeks.
  • Recurrent brief insomnia.
  • Occasional brief insomnia.

In 40% of the participants over time insomnia developed into the more serious chronic form. Those with ‘one-month insomnia’ gradually increased the number of occurrences. Insomnia lasting 2 weeks, or longer, preceded major depressive episodes and depressive disorder.

Scientist used to think that insomnia was most often a symptom of depression, but research now suggest that insomnia precedes depression. They also found that over time insomnia tends to become a chronic problem unlike depression that is a more intermittent problem.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full night’s sleep every night.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
  • Do not bring your worries to bed with you.
  • Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.

The article appears in the April 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

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