Tired of Insomnia

By Goff, Karen Goldberg | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 15, 2001 | Go to article overview

Tired of Insomnia


Goff, Karen Goldberg, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


3:15 - Wake up.

3:17 - Toss, turn.

3:25 - Flip through the pages of a book.

4:13 - Stress out about a long day at the office on too little sleep.

This is a typical night for someone suffering from insomnia. For John Wiedman, a mortgage banker from Memphis, Tenn., nights like this went on for years.

After a while, Mr. Wiedman grew accustomed to being up at night. He jokes that he is now an expert on the juicers and abdominal toners sold on late-night television.

That doesn't mean he grew any more comfortable with less sleep.

"The cycle got worse and worse until I was up until 4 or 5 a.m. four nights a week," says Mr. Wiedman, 51. "If I ever got six hours of sleep, it was like I had napped all day. It was horrible. I was usually grouchy all the time."

Mr. Wiedman eventually took control of his sleep by modifying his daytime and evening behavior. He chronicled his struggle in a book, "Desperately Seeking Snoozin': The Insomnia Cure From Awake to Zzzzz."

His case was severe, the kind of chronic insomnia that endures for decades. That type of insomniac could benefit, as Mr. Wiedman did, by seeing a sleep specialist, undergoing behavioral therapy and changing the sleep environment, says Dr. Richard Hoffman, a sleep medicine specialist at Inova Alexandria Hospital.

Other types of insomnia exist, too, and from time to time almost everyone will be afflicted.

"Technically, primary insomnia is defined as the inability to fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying in bed trying to," Dr. Hoffman says. "But really what characterizes it is a sense of distress about not being asleep."

Insomnia can be characterized as transient, which is temporary sleep trouble related to a definable event, such as a big work project, he says. Short-term insomnia is the type that may go on for a few weeks due to ongoing stress such as a family crisis.

Chronic insomnia often has underlying stress as a symptom, but a person should be evaluated for depression, anxiety, allergies and restless leg syndrome (a condition where leg discomfort interferes with sleep), Dr. Hoffman says.

There also is sleep maintenance insomnia, where one gets to sleep but cannot stay asleep, and psychobiological insomnia, where the worry over what time one gets to sleep exacerbates the problem.

"It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," Dr. Hoffman says. "You develop habits that make it difficult to get to sleep."

HOW SLEEP WORKS

"Sleep is a very complex thing," says Dr. Michael Twery, a program officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. "There is a buildup of chemicals that drives sleepiness."

The coordinator of those chemicals is the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that drives the biological clock, setting the circadian rhythms that tell us when to be awake or sleepy. The biological clock and the circadian rhythms change through the years as humans age, Dr. Twery says.

During a normal night, humans pass through stages of sleep. Stage 1 is light sleep, the 10-minute transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. Stage 2 is deeper sleep, and after about 20 minutes, an individual enters Stages 3 and 4, which are similar and hard to differentiate. At Stages 3 and 4, a person experiences the deep sleep with restorative powers. This deep sleep is known as delta sleep from the delta waves the brain makes.

About 90 minutes later, rapid eye movement sleep, the deep sleep in which we dream and rapidly move our eyes, takes over.

Most people cycle back and forth through the stages of sleep several times throughout the night. Problems occur when the cycle is broken, such as when a person wakes up before falling into restorative sleep.

"As we mature from childhood, the pattern changes," Dr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tired of Insomnia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.