Insomnia, sleeping disorders

When we talk about sleep disorders we refer to a group of disorders that can affect not only the amount of time we can devote to sleep, but also the quality of the latter, also taking into account the impairment of daytime activities resulting from an altered and unsatisfactory sleep-wake rhythm. Sleep disorders are divided into several disorders, including insomnia.

In general, insomnia refers to dissatisfaction with the quantity or quality of sleep

Specifically, insomnia can be characterized by:

  • Difficulty falling asleep (early/early insomnia)
  • Frequent and prolonged nocturnal awakenings (maintenance insomnia)
  • Early awakening in the morning (late insomnia);
  • From a combination of these difficulties (mixed or generalized insomnia).

The treatment of insomnia today involves both the use of drugs (Hypnoinducenti, usually benzodiazepines) and non-farmacological treatments. While insomnia medications may be more suitable for the treatment of occasional or situational insomnia, non-farmacological treatments are the therapy of choice for chronic insomnia.

The use of hypnotic drugs or anxiolytics with hypnotic function (benzodiazepines) is not recommended for more than 2 weeks. Prolonged use can in fact cause side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness, as well as addiction and tolerance, while drastic suspension causes withdrawal syndrome, characterized by a bloody return of insomnia (rebound effect), psychomotor agitation, anxiety and tremors

Part of the non-pharmacological therapy of insomnia are some classic cognitive-behavioral techniques that aim to modify wrong habits or harmful environmental factors.

In addition, by teaching specific relaxation techniques for body and mind, the therapist helps the patient to get rid of anxious thoughts and “mental ruminations” that do not allow the mind to relax. Also phytotherapy has an important role, the relaxing action of medicinal plants that exert a calming and anxiolytic effect on the body – such as chamomile, lemon balm, poppy, passion flower, linden and valerian – is widely recognized.

Recent medical studies have also confirmed the usefulness of the hormone melatonin in restoring a regular sleep. In Italy melatonin is not properly considered a drug, but a supplement, as it is a substance already produced by our body to regulate the sleep-wake rhythm.

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