- There are four basic kinds of insomnia: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early and poor quality sleep.
- Someone with insomnia may have the following symptoms: feeling tired and grumpy during the day, having trouble concentrating at work, falling asleep during the day.
You can be tired and grumpy even if you don’t have insomnia. You may be worn-out from staying up too late at night. This does not mean that you have insomnia. Many people are sleepy during the day simply because they went to bed too late the night before. They don’t have a sleep disorder; they just didn’t get enough sleep.
Everyone has an occasional night of bad sleep. For most people insomnia lasts only a few days and goes away without treatment. But stress or depression can cause insomnia that may last for several weeks. This kind of insomnia may not go away on its own.
If you have insomnia, then you are not alone. It is a common sleep disorder. It is more common among elderly people and women. Some medical conditions cause insomnia, or it may be a side effect of a medication.
Self Evaluation. If your answer to these questions is yes, you might have insomnia.
- Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or do you wake up too early or feel un-refreshed after sleeping?
- For a child, does the child resist going to sleep or sleeping alone?
- Does this problem occur even though you have the opportunity and the time to get a good night’s sleep?
- Do you have at least one of the following problems? low energy, lack of motivation, attention, concentration or memory problems; poor performance at school or work, extreme mood changes, daytime sleepiness, trouble making errors at work or while driving, tension, headaches or stomach aches, frustration or worry about your sleep.
- Also, your sleep problems may be a result of one of the following: another sleep disorder, a medical condition, medication use, a mental health disorder or substance abuse.
Seeing a Sleep Specialist. First, you should try to follow good sleep hygiene. You also may want to discuss your sleep problems with your primary care doctor. If the insomnia causes you distress or daytime sleepiness, then you may want to visit a sleep specialist. They can find the cause and treat your insomnia. First, the doctor will need to know when your insomnia started. They will also want to know what else has been happening in your life. Finally, your medical history is very important. Be sure to tell the doctor if you are taking any medications. This includes medicine that you may buy from the drugstore without a prescription.
Sleep Diary. You will also want to keep a sleep diary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help the doctor see your sleeping patterns. This information gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to correct it.
Testing. Doctors do not need any tests to treat most insomnia patients. A sleep specialist may give you a written test to analyze your mental and emotional well-being. The specialist may need to test your blood in the lab if They suspect that you have a related medical problem. You would need an overnight sleep study only if the doctor suspects that you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
Treatment. Many cases of insomnia will respond to changes that you can make on your own. You can often sleep better by simply following good sleep practices which consist of basic habits and tips that help you develop a pattern of healthy sleep. There are also easy ways to make your bed and your bedroom more comfortable. See the Improving Sleep section of this site to find out how you can improve your sleep.
When self-treatment does not work, a doctor can provide help. They can teach you different ways to improve your sleep which may include relaxation exercises, finding ways to take your mind off of sleep. Staying out of bed until you are very, very sleepy. Your doctor also may want to change any medications that you currently take. These drugs may be related to your sleep problems. You need to seek help from a therapist if stress or depression is the cause of your sleep problems.
Medications. The doctor may decide that the symptoms need to be treated with medication. Many types of medication can help improve your sleep. Some are specifically approved to treat insomnia. Some medications that treat other problems also can help you sleep. You should only take a medication when supervised by a doctor.
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