What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, DESPITE adequate time and opportunity to do so. This may lead to daytime functional impairment. Although insomnia affects adults and children, it is more common in adults and its frequency increases with age.


Primary insomnia is a sleep disorder and it is very difficult to pinpoint the cause. Factors such as life changes, major stress or emotional stress, trigger primary insomnia. In comparison to this, secondary insomnia is a symptom or side-effect of another problem, e.g. emotional, neurological or medical in origin. Causes for secondary insomnia include thyroid conditions, pain, asthma, depression and certain medications.


Daar is heelwat eenvoudige metodes om slaappatrone te verbeter, onder andere:



Die eerste generasie tipe antihistamine veroorsaak sedasie of slaperigheid. Sederende anti-histamine is op die kort termyn baie effektief vir die behandeling van tydelike slapeloosheid by volwassenes en kinders ouer as 12 jaar. Voorbeelde sluit in difenhidramien en doxylamine.


Melatonin is a hormone in the body that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. It causes drowsiness, lowers the body temperature and slows metabolic functions. Darkness stimulates melatonin secretion whilst it (the secretion) is inhibited by exposure to natural sunlight. The night-time rise in the level of melatonin promotes sleep onset and maintains restful sleep.

If the natural melatonin cycle is altered, it affects sleep quality. For example, being exposed to bright lights in the evening, or too little light during the day, can disrupt the body’s melatonin secretion. This secretion is also influenced by age and certain medications such as benzodiazepines, corticosteroids or beta blockers that decrease melatonin secretion, or opioids and adrenergic compounds which stimulate it.

By taking melatonin as a medicine, it will improve the sleep onset, but it does not assist with sleep duration. There are complementary products available that contain melatonin, but their efficacy and safety in the management of insomnia still require further investigation. Preparations containing melatonin cause side-effects such as headaches, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea and hypotension. Patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and seizure disorders, should consult a doctor before taking melatonin.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE:  All products containing melatonin are in the process of being re-scheduled and will only be available on prescription.

Slapeloosheid het baie oorsake. Deur die onderliggende toestande the behandel, word die probleem verlig. Die nakoming van goeie slaapgewoontes help in die voorkoming van slapeloosheid. Tydelike slapeloosheid kan beheer word deur middel van sederende anti-histamine. Pasiënte wat aan aanhoudende slapeloosheid ly of aan slapeloosheid wat hul daaglikse funksionering affekteer, moet na ‘n geneesheer verwys word.










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