Millions of people across the US struggle to fall or stay asleep each night. As many as 30 to 35 percent of American adults experience brief insomnia symptoms while as many as 10 percent of the population suffer from chronic insomnia. So, what exactly is insomnia and how does it affect your sleep?
What is Insomnia?
This sleep disorder makes it difficulty for people to either fall asleep or stay asleep. There are two forms of insomnia: acute and chronic. Acute insomnia lasts anywhere from one night to a couple of weeks and is often brought about by emotional issues, life stressors, certain medications or illness.
Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, occurs at least three nights each week for several months and is often caused by chronic or long-term stressors, pain or mood disorders (e.g. depression).
What are the Symptoms of Insomnia?
Those with true insomnia will experience at least one or more of these sleep disorder symptoms:
- Problems falling asleep
- Waking up throughout the night and not being able to go back to sleep
- Waking up too early
- Feeling exhausted once awake
Since you can't sleep well throughout the night you may find that you are more irritable and exhausted throughout the day. You may also notice that your memory or concentration isn’t as good as it usually is.
How is Insomnia Diagnosed?
If your symptoms point to insomnia, then it’s time to contact our office to receive a thorough evaluation. During your initial consultation we will discuss all the symptoms you are experiencing and then decide whether a sleep study is recommended. We may also advise some patients to keep a sleep diary over the course of a couple weeks to look for patterns in their sleep and daytime symptoms.
How is Insomnia Treated?
Some forms of acute insomnia may not need treatment and may only require some changes to your current sleep habits. However, if your insomnia is making it difficult to get through the day then we will discuss whether a prescription sleep aid will help provide a better night’s sleep.
For those with chronic insomnia, our goal is to treat the underlying issue that is causing your abnormal sleep patterns. Behavioral therapy is one way to alter behaviors that may exacerbate your sleep problems while also promoting new, healthier sleep behaviors. Behavioral therapy incorporates techniques such as relaxation exercises to help improve sleep quality.