Chronic insomnia grows on high stress

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Chronic insomnia grows on high stress

By Kim Se-jeong

How did you sleep last night?

If you had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have insomnia.

Acute insomnia lasts one night or two mostly due to dramatic changes in the environment. Chronic insomnia occurs at least three times a week and lasts more than three months.

Chronic insomnia has more causes than the acute form, such as changes in the environment, clinical disorders, medications and unhealthy habits. People with chronic insomnia need treatment to return to healthy sleeping patterns.

According to the National Health Insurance Service, the number of people who visited doctors for insomnia is gradually rising.

In 2016, the number was 541,958, 34 percent up from 403,417 in 2012. In 2013, it was 430,000, 465,000 in 2014 and 513,000 in 2015.

Women tend to suffer more from insomnia. In 2016, approximately 332,000 women were treated for the condition, while the number of male patients was 210,000. In 2015, the number of female patients, 314,000, was more than double the number of male patients at 199,000.

People in their 50s suffered the most from insomnia, with 115,000 out of 541,958 patients in 2016, followed by people in their 60s and 70s.

Prof. Lee Jung-suk from the National Health Insurance Service Ilsan Hospital said the increase is attributed to the increasing number of the elderly.

"Medically, insomnia affects older people more than the young," Prof. Lee said. "The figure reflects Korea's aging society."

Lee explained, "As people get older, they experience more physical and psychological problems which disturb their sleeping patterns."

He also said insomnia occurs more often in winter than in summer. In 2016, 12.6 percent of insomnia patients were treated in winter. "Winter's shorter daylight can disturb the body's biological rhythm. And lower temperatures encourage people to stay indoors more such that seasonal disorders like flu can disturb sleep."

The mention of insomnia was found as far back as ancient Greece.

Globally, between 10 and 30 percent of adults go through insomnia at some point in their lives.

Insomnia has many causes, from physical pain to psychological conditions such as fear, stress and anxiety. Depression is also a cause of insomnia.

A study by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area found the reverse may be true.

The study found people who suffer from insomnia carry 39.8 times higher risks of developing depression again.

Studies have found, although rare, genetics also has a role to play in causing insomnia.

Besides old age, insomnia has other risk factors. People with a history of mental disorders and emotional stress, and those who work night shifts and travel through different time zones tend to develop insomnia more.

What are the treatments?

Sleeping pills are an easy and common type of treatment, but doctors don't recommend them for long-term use because of the risk of addiction.

Doctors say if a person suffers from medical problems, treating them first can help treat insomnia.

Non-medical therapies are used and they have more lasting improvements in relieving insomnia than taking pills. Psychological therapy, behavioral intervention, sleep-restriction therapy are among the non-medical therapies.

Alternative medicines are also in use. Some patients use herbs such as chamomile and lavender to alleviate insomnia. Oriental doctors also perform acupuncture on their patients to cure insomnia.

Lee said to prevent insomnia, keeping regular sleeping hours is important which means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.

Creating a comfortable environment is also important, the doctor said.

Other preventive measures include making your bed comfortable, exercising regularly, reduce drinking coffee and stop smoking.







By Kim Se-jeong

How did you sleep last night?

If you had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have insomnia.

Acute insomnia lasts one night or two mostly due to dramatic changes in the environment. Chronic insomnia occurs at least three times a week and lasts more than three months.

Chronic insomnia has more causes than the acute form, such as changes in the environment, clinical disorders, medications and unhealthy habits. People with chronic insomnia need treatment to return to healthy sleeping patterns.

According to the National Health Insurance Service, the number of people who visited doctors for insomnia is gradually rising.

In 2016, the number was 541,958, 34 percent up from 403,417 in 2012. In 2013, it was 430,000, 465,000 in 2014 and 513,000 in 2015.

Women tend to suffer more from insomnia. In 2016, approximately 332,000 women were treated for the condition, while the number of male patients was 210,000. In 2015, the number of female patients, 314,000, was more than double the number of male patients at 199,000.

People in their 50s suffered the most from insomnia, with 115,000 out of 541,958 patients in 2016, followed by people in their 60s and 70s.

Prof. Lee Jung-suk from the National Health Insurance Service Ilsan Hospital said the increase is attributed to the increasing number of the elderly.

"Medically, insomnia affects older people more than the young," Prof. Lee said. "The figure reflects Korea's aging society."

Lee explained, "As people get older, they experience more physical and psychological problems which disturb their sleeping patterns."

He also said insomnia occurs more often in winter than in summer. In 2016, 12.6 percent of insomnia patients were treated in winter. "Winter's shorter daylight can disturb the body's biological rhythm. And lower temperatures encourage people to stay indoors more such that seasonal disorders like flu can disturb sleep."

The mention of insomnia was found as far back as ancient Greece.

Globally, between 10 and 30 percent of adults go through insomnia at some point in their lives.

Insomnia has many causes, from physical pain to psychological conditions such as fear, stress and anxiety. Depression is also a cause of insomnia.

A study by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area found the reverse may be true.

The study found people who suffer from insomnia carry 39.8 times higher risks of developing depression again.

Studies have found, although rare, genetics also has a role to play in causing insomnia.

Besides old age, insomnia has other risk factors. People with a history of mental disorders and emotional stress, and those who work night shifts and travel through different time zones tend to develop insomnia more.

What are the treatments?

Sleeping pills are an easy and common type of treatment, but doctors don't recommend them for long-term use because of the risk of addiction.

Doctors say if a person suffers from medical problems, treating them first can help treat insomnia.

Non-medical therapies are used and they have more lasting improvements in relieving insomnia than taking pills. Psychological therapy, behavioral intervention, sleep-restriction therapy are among the non-medical therapies.

Alternative medicines are also in use. Some patients use herbs such as chamomile and lavender to alleviate insomnia. Oriental doctors also perform acupuncture on their patients to cure insomnia.

Lee said to prevent insomnia, keeping regular sleeping hours is important which means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.

Creating a comfortable environment is also important, the doctor said.

Other preventive measures include making your bed comfortable, exercising regularly, reduce drinking coffee and stop smoking.







Kim Se-jeong skim@koreatimes.co.kr


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