Many people suffer from insomnia with sleeplessness a common factor in their lives and it can be very debilitating. But there is another form called Altitude Insomnia and it occurs in approximately 25% of people who go two miles above sea level.
This rare type of insomnia is also called Alpine Sickness, Hypobaropathy, Acosta’s Disease or Acute Mountain Sickness. It often occurs with pilots, military personnel and mountain climbers as an effect of high altitude.
Symptoms of Altitude Insomnia
This type of insomnia usually occurs when someone has gone above the two mile altitude and is caused by low air pressure although today’s airplanes no longer should trigger this insomnia because the planes are all pressurized so that the travelers are not affected. Repeated exposure to high altitudes can lead to this type of insomnia and it might not occur until a week after the event.
Symptoms include a loss of appetite, headache and fatigue along with the insomnia that is sleep that is constantly interrupted by an inability to catch their breath. It gives people the feeling that they are choking or suffocating and cannot catch their breath.
Although Altitude Insomnia is rare and is not fully understood, there are some treatments for altitude sickness that you can do yourself to minimize the occurrences. Drinking lots of water are essential along with consumption of cocoa leaves have been found to be beneficial.
Prescription drugs that have been used are Diamox and Sumatriptan that are both drugs that are used to prevent altitude sickness. However, it is essential that you understand that altitude insomnia is a complication of the lungs because the lungs have been severely affected by the extreme altitude so caution should be taken and a physician should be consulted to ensure that you are taking what you should.
Another drug that has been used is Acetazolamide. Research has shown that this drug has been able to reduce pressure by relaxing the muscles that line the lungs’ capillaries. Acetazolamide will help to reduce the fluid in the lungs so that oxygenation is increased.
What you should do
For those that travel frequently – like a pilot or flight attendant – or have to travel a lot for business or those who love the grand adventure of climbing mountains, you should seek medical advice above fo altitude Insomnia, especially if you have been experiencing symptoms. Insomnia of any type can lead to more serious medical and health problems and should not be taken lightly. It is therefore essential to seek a physician’s counsel about this little known sleep problem.