What is insomnia? Man awake In bed unable to sleep at night.

What is insomnia?

If you are wondering what is insomnia, here are some things you should know…

First, it’s a common problem in which you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or poor sleep quality.

Your sleep issues can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).  People with chronic insomnia have trouble sleeping at least three nights a week for a month or longer.

Lastly, if insomnia is left untreated, it can affect health, emotional well-being, relationships, and productivity.

Over the long-term this can lead to poor quality of life.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 US adults don’t get enough sleep and 50-70 million have a sleep disorder. 
  • Globally, sleep problems affect the quality of life for up to 45% of the world’s population.
  • Unfortunately, too many people with insomnia go undiagnosed and untreated. 

Symptoms of insomnia

Do you experience any of these?  If yes, talk to your doctor.

• Trouble falling asleep at night
• Waking up during the night
• Waking up too early
• Feeling as if you haven’t slept at all
• Tiredness or sleepiness during the day
• Irritability, depression, or anxiety
• Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering
• Unable to get things done during the daytime
• Ongoing worries about sleep
• Difficulty at work or school
• Difficulty in personal relationships
• Increased errors or accidents

Causes of insomnia

Insomnia can result from many different things:

Poor sleep habits:
Irregular bedtimes, naps, stimulating activities, watching TV in the bed, using a computer or smart phone before sleep, staying up too late – these can all disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle.

Poor sleep environment:
An uncomfortable room temperature (too warm or too cold), nuisance noises, too much light, electronic devices in the bed room, a snoring partner.

Stress and anxiety:
Excessive worry or anxiety about things like work, school, health, finances, family, or relationships can keep you up at night.  Major life events can also cause stress and insomnia.

Travel or work schedule:

Irregular work or travel schedules can really disrupt your natural sleep-wake cycles – swing shifts or travel across time zones can throw your body off.

Mood disorders:
Depression, bipolar, and other mood disorders can disturb sleep and result in insomnia.

Medical conditions:

Many medical conditions can cause or worsen your insomnia.  Arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues can affect sleep.

Sleep disorders:

Other sleep disorders beside insomnia can affect sleep.  People with sleep apnea have interrupted sleep due to difficulties breathing.  People with circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders have out of whack sleep times.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Insomnia is diagnosed based on your medical and sleep histories, a physical exam, a review of your sleep habits, and an overnight sleep study which will track what is happening in your body during the night.

Treatment can include lifestyle changes, good sleep habits, counseling, and sleep medications.  Your physician may also recommend use of anti-snoring devices, oral appliances, or a CPAP machine to promote better breathing when asleep.

Quality sleep is essential to life so be sure to get diagnosed and treated.

Learn more about the diagnosis process here.

So, what is insomnia?

  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or poor sleep quality
  • Affects 1 in 3 US adults*
  • Can have long-term health effects
  • Treatable

*You can find more in-depth insomnia statistics at the Centers for Disease Control.

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Important:  BetterSleepSimplified.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always consult a physician for sleep and health concerns.  See additional information.