Problems falling asleep, staying asleep, waking early, or a combination of these. Insomnia affects all age groups, but is more common in the elderly. Insomnia is often described by how long it has gone on. Transient is a few days, short-term is less than 3 weeks, and chronic is more than 3 weeks.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Difficulty falling asleep.
A brief period of sleep is followed by wakefulness.
Normal sleep habits until very early in the morning, then wakefulness (often with frightening thoughts).
Daytime fatigue and tiredness.
Lack of sleep causes problems with social, work, family, and other areas of one's life.
Insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. It can be caused by physical, mental, and environmental problems.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Depression, anxiety, tension, or stress.
Noise (including a snoring partner).
Allergies and early-morning wheezing.
Heart or lung problems that cause shortness of breath when lying down.
Painful disorders, such as arthritis.
Frequent need to urinate at night.
Night sweats, or disorders that cause excess itching.
Drinking caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea, or cola.
Use of some drugs.
Odd work hours, such as swing shifts.
A new environment or location.
Jet lag after travel.
Lack of exercise.
Smoking, alcoholism, or drug abuse, including overuse of sleep-inducing drugs.
Withdrawal from addictive substances.
Avoid lengthy daytime napping.
Avoid risk factors where possible.
For general good health, eat a healthy diet, exercise daily, maintain weight for height, and refrain from using tobacco products.
Insomnia can usually be relieved by treating the cause, using self-care steps, or with other medical treatment.
Insomnia can cause impaired thinking, and health and emotional problems that affect all aspects of life.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
You may use self-care steps first. These include:
Try to reduce tension, stress, or anxiety in your life.
Don't turn your bedroom into an office or a den.
Create a comfortable sleep setting.
Relax in a warm bath before bedtime.
After 15 to 20 minutes of trying to sleep, get up and do some relaxing activity. Don't watch television.
Turn off your mind. Focus on peaceful and relaxing thoughts. Play soft music or relaxation tapes.
Set a strict sleep schedule and keep to it.
Use earplugs, eye shades, or an electric blanket.
See your health care provider if self-care doesn't help. A physical exam may be done and questions asked about your symptoms and activities. Medical tests may be done to check for any physical disorders. A sleep study may be prescribed. Medical steps may include:
Counseling for problems such as depression.
Treatment for any medical order diagnosed.
Sleep-inducing drugs may be prescribed for a short time if: short-term insomnia is interfering with daily activities; you have a disorder that disturbs sleep; you need to establish regular sleep patterns.
Long-term use of sleep inducers may be counterproductive or addictive. Don't use sleeping pills unless they are prescribed.
Exercise daily to create healthy fatigue, but not in 2 hours of going to bed.
Have sexual relations, if they are fulfilling and satisfying, before going to sleep.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or a heavy meal in 3 hours of bedtime. Try a light snack with milk at bedtime.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has had insomnia for over 4 weeks or it is interfering with your ability to function.