Sleep researchers are still trying to tease out all the reasons for insomnia, but one thing they do know is people's sleep-wake patterns change as they age. For teenagers and people in their 20s, the peak time of alertness is right before bedtime; insomniacs at this age often have difficulty falling asleep. Bedtime alertness is reduced as people age, they often fall asleep easily but may have trouble maintaining sleep. One reason is that middle-aged and older people may be more sensitive to things like discomfort and noise. Another reason may be changes in the drive to stay asleep, he says. Throughout the day, people build up a need for sleep. When they snooze for a few hours, they pay off some of the sleep debt, and their drive to stay asleep diminishes.
An estimated 60 million adult Americans may have a severe problem with insomnia: 51 percent had symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week; 29 percent experience insomnia every night or almost every night; 32 percent are awake a lot during the night; 24 percent say they wake up early and can't get back to sleep at least a few times a week; and 24 percent say "thinking about something" causes them to have difficulty sleeping at least a few nights a week.
In Chinese medicine, insomnia usually means that blood or yin or both are deficient and incapable of nourishing the shen stored in the heart. There is therefore a relative excess of yang and the body is unable to settle down. Excess fire can also disturb the shen.
2. Insomnia is not a sleep disorder or a disease, but a symptom of underlying issues. It could be the result of trying to sleep in a hotel room, struggling with arthritis or dealing with a death in the family.