There's more to insomnia than just not being able to get enough sleep every once in a while. It is a complicated sleep condition which results in either not being able to fall asleep or not being able to stay asleep throughout the night.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that "about 30 percent of Americans complain of sleep disruption and about 10 percent have other symptoms of functional impairment that is consistent with insomnia."
Effects of Insomnia
Insomnia can have major effects on your life. It can make you feel fatigued throughout the day, and can cause cognitive impairment. Those dealing with insomnia may also have behavioral problems, trouble with personal relationships and difficulties in school or work. They may be irritable and anxious and have trouble concentrating.
Insomniacs may have low energy during the day because they are not getting enough sleep. They may also feel like the sleep they are getting is not refreshing to them. They could have difficulty falling asleep, or they may wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep.
There are two kinds of insomnia.
The first kind of insomnia is called acute Insomnia and occurs for a short period of time. It is generally attached to life events that precipitate it. Things like taking a big test the next day, being stressed out, or getting bad news, can all create an instance of acute insomnia. Typically, once the circumstances are worked out, the insomnia goes away and no treatment is needed.
The second kind of insomnia is called chronic Insomnia. As its name suggests, this form of the sleep disorder is repetitive and ongoing. Someone can be diagnosed with chronic insomnia if they have disrupted sleep three nights a week or more for three or more months.
While there are many causes of chronic insomnia, some of the more common ones include use of certain medications, shift work, or unhealthy sleep habits. Chronic insomnia can be linked to other psychiatric or medical conditions, though it can be tough to truly understand a direct cause-and-effect relationship between them.
It may be helpful for chronic insomniacs to participate in some type of treatment to get back to the healthy sleep patterns they are seeking.
If you have tried to change your nighttime behaviors to have an easier time falling or staying asleep but it hasn’t worked, talking to a sleep expert or a medical doctor might be necessary. If you feel like insomnia is affecting your waking life for an extended period of time, you should also reach out to a medical professional.
Treatments include non-medical ones like relaxation training, and cognitive and behavioral shifts. Medical professionals indicate that medication might be needed to achieve normal sleep patterns again.
There are many kinds of prescription and non-prescription sleep aids available today. Your doctor can help you decide which one — if any — is right for you .
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder and one that many other people are dealing with on any given night. However, it doesn’t have to be something you live with forever.
If insomnia is negatively affecting the rest of your life, it might be time to do something about it!
“Insomnia: Treatment”. Sleepfoundation.org. Web. 15 July 2015.
“What is Insomnia?” Sleepfoundation.org. Web. 15 July 2015.
“Insomnia: Symptoms”. Sleepfoundation.org. Web. 15 July 2015.
“What is insomnia?”. NHLBI.NIH.gov. Web. 15 July 2015.
Reviewed July 17, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith