What is Insomnia?

What is Insomnia?
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The quality of your sleep every night is vital to having a healthy life. Humans spend around a third of their lives asleep (or at least they should) as most experts agree that the average adult needs at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, studies show that many of us fall short daily.

Do you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night? Do you wake up still feeling tired and groggy? If so, you are not alone, it is estimated that one-third of the population struggles each night to get some sleep. As many as 40 million Americans are diagnosed with insomnia every year, making it the most common sleep disorder within the United States.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where patients have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. This condition essentially causes poor sleep quality causing most patients to feel tired even while awake.

Insomnia can be classified as acute insomnia or chronic insomnia:

  • Acute insomnia occurs suddenly and briefly, lasting from one night to a few weeks, and is often due to a particular circumstance, such as an upcoming important or stressful event.
  • Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, is when you have trouble falling, staying, or returning to sleep at least three nights per week for at least three months straight.

In both forms, the patient’s inability to fall asleep or stay asleep leads to poor sleep quality and significantly impacts a person’s quality of life and ability to function throughout the day efficiently.

Causes

Unfortunately, the causes of insomnia can vary from patient to patient. Environmental, physiological, and psychological factors can all contribute to a person developing insomnia.

Acute insomnia may be caused by stress, a traumatic experience, new medication, or significant changes to your daily routine such as traveling or a new work shift schedule. Chronic insomnia may stem from mental health disorders, substance abuse, and certain medical conditions.

Aside from acute or chronic insomnia, there are two types of insomnia: primary (meaning it isn’t linked to any other health condition) and secondary (meaning insomnia is a result of another condition).

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs of insomnia may include but are not limited to:

  • Changes in mood
  • Daytime impairment
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to maintain sleep
  • Increased irritability and aggression
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Waking up early

Treatment

Treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on your condition. In most cases, acute insomnia can resolve without medical treatment once the trigger is no longer present or the individual adapts to the stressor. For patients with chronic insomnia, treatment centers around controlling the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered a first-line treatment option for patients with chronic insomnia. Other treatment options may include medication, meditation, and lifestyle changes to improve sleep quality.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is vital to the proper functioning of practically every other system in our bodies. During sleep your body repairs and refreshes itself. Poor quality sleep or sleeping less than the recommended amount daily can result in long term health problems with your mood, memory, blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight, cardiovascular system, and more. Studies show that those who sleep less than five hours a night regularly often experience higher mortality rates than those who sleep the recommended amount consistently.

Helpful Sleeping Tips

To ensure your sleep success, we’ve listed several of our best sleep recommendations:

  • Create a restful environment by darkening the room and lowering the temperature
  • Eliminate long naps throughout the day
  • Relax before bed by avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and tobacco products
  • Stick to a sleep schedule aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep
  • Unwind by refraining from using your electronic device before bedtime

It is important to practice smart stay-healthy strategies during this time and to make your health a priority. Regardless of your situation, we will find the right solution to help you get a restful night’s sleep. We will work with you to understand your medical history as well as your lifestyle habits and patterns. For more information on insomnia and our treatment options, contact Dr. Jamila Battle today.

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