Insomnia is a chronic sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep at night, excessive sleepiness during the day, or waking up several times throughout the night. Episodes can be long term, occurring several nights a week over a long period of time; short term, lasting for a few weeks only; or episodic, which means it comes and goes depending on social, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
There are a plethora of things that can cause insomnia, including:
- Daytime napping
- Poor sleeping environment
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Not enough exercise
- Using electronics while in bed
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Narcotic medications
- Excess intake of caffeine
- Heavy smoking
- Too dependent on sleep aids (either prescription or over-the-counter)
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood disorders like bipolar and major depression
- Chronic illness like kidney disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, etc.
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health. Without adequate rest, a person will experience excessive fatigue, inability to focus or concentrate, slow cognitive processes, be at increased risk of medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, decrease libido, lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels which can worsen or even cause depression, and a variety of other major problems.
The brain and body absolutely need rest to recuperate, so long-term insomnia should be treated quickly. Generally, the underlying causes of insomnia should be treated first, whether they be lifestyle changes, medical or psychological treatment. While there are medications that can be used to help regulate sleep, most of them tend to be addictive and it’s far too easy to become dependent on these medications.
In patients who have trouble sleeping due to depression, anxiety, or chronic pain syndromes, they have found that Elavil (amitriptyline) is greatly helpful when it comes time to call in for the night. This likely has more to do with the fact that Elavil (amitriptyline) is treating the underlying condition rather than the sleeping disorder itself, but there is no denying the positive effects this medication has had on the ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night, while feeling awake and alert the next day without the typical drowsiness that comes with traditional sleep aids.
Elavil is a tricyclic antidepressant that is used not only for depression and anxiety, but for a variety of pain conditions. It regulates the “feel good” neurotransmitters in the body, serotonin and norepinephrine, so that the body can be more relaxed and comfortable. If sleeplessness or difficulty sleeping is occurring due to these types of conditions, talk to your doctor about getting on a trial of Elavil (amitriptyline).