Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes sleep disturbances due to either trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It is the most common sleep problem and leads to disrupted sleep and an overall decrease in sleep quality.
Types Of Insomnia
There are three types of insomnia that you can suffer from, and within those types, there are different categories.
Transient insomnia is the mildest form of insomnia, as it is a temporary disorder that typically lasts for around one week. This form of insomnia is usually brought on by recent stresses in your life.
Acute insomnia is also known as short-term insomnia, as this form lasts less than three months. Acute insomnia is more common in women than men, and is usually caused by a stressful life event. Typically, the symptoms of this form of insomnia will resolve themselves.
Chronic insomnia is characterized by interrupted sleep or trouble falling asleep for at least three nights per week for a period longer than three months. Chronic insomnia is also more common in women, and although it can also be brought on by stress, it may also be due to irregular sleep behaviors or other physical or neurological problems.
Categories Of Insomnia
Within these types of insomnia, there are a few different categories the sleep disorder can fall under. Sleep-onset insomnia means that you have trouble getting to sleep, while sleep-maintenance insomnia means that you have trouble staying asleep throughout the night or that you wake up too early. Mixed insomnia is a combination of both having trouble falling and staying asleep. Paradoxical insomnia occurs when you underestimate the time you’ve been asleep, so even if you happen to get a full night’s sleep you will not feel well rested.
Causes Of Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of these include stressful life events, noise, light, and temperature disturbances, changes to your sleep schedule, or a genetic predisposition. It can also be caused by pain or discomfort at night, as well as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or drug use. Medications such as those for cold, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma can also contribute.
Medical conditions related to insomnia include mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD, hyperthyroidism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, pregnancy, and menopause. Insomnia can also be due to other sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea, sleep paralysis, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Symptoms Of Insomnia
Symptoms of insomnia include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, headaches, and irritability. You may also experience anxiety, depression, decreased energy or motivation, increased mistakes and worse performance at work or school, and constant worries about sleep.
Complications Of Insomnia
Since insomnia disrupts sleep wake cycles, it can lead to other complications, as our bodies and brains rely on sleep to repair themselves. Complications from insomnia include memory issues, a higher risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, and depression, a higher risk of falling, trouble focusing, and slow reaction times that can lead to car crashes.
How To Test For Insomnia
Sleep centers can conduct a variety of tests to determine whether you have insomnia, and if so, what kind. Tests that can be used include daily sleep logs, sleep study (polysomnography), home sleep apnea testing, and daytime multiple sleep latency testing (MSLT).
Other tests that can be conducted include low blood oxygen studies, melatonin sampling, hormone tests, and pulmonary function tests. You may also be given an electrocardiogram, CT scan, genetic testing, and MRIs.
Treatment For Insomnia
Transient and acute insomnia will typically go away without treatment, yet chronic insomnia may require treatment to fix sleep patterns. Treatment for this can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), sleep hygiene education, sleep restriction therapy, meditation, or sleep medications. These measures can help to regain a regular sleep cycle.
You can work to prevent insomnia from occurring by practicing good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to healthy habits that promote better sleep, such as going to bed at the same time each night, establishing a nighttime routine, and avoiding caffeine before bed. Other methods include avoiding blue light from electronic devices, exercising regularly, and not eating late at night.
How Gwinnett Sleep Can Help
Gwinnett Sleep offers services that can help diagnose other sleep disorders that may be causing chronic insomnia. We provide consultations, conduct sleep studies, and offer education on sleep disorders. If you suspect that you may have chronic insomnia, you should get tested for sleep disorders that may be causing it. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.