Types Of Chronic Insomnia
There are two main types of chronic insomnia: primary and secondary.
Primary insomnia isnt due to other medical conditions or medications and is poorly understood by scientists. Specialized MRI scans are being used to study this condition. Primary insomnia may be related to changes in levels of certain brain chemicals, but research is ongoing.
Secondary insomnia is caused by other conditions or situations. This means that its a symptom that goes along with some medical issues, such as emotional stress, trauma, and ongoing health problems certain lifestyle patterns or taking certain drugs and medications.
Chronic insomnia can cause symptoms at night as well as during the day and can interfere with your ability to go on with your daily tasks.
Symptoms may include:
Insomnia Treatment And Recovery
For temporary cases of insomnia due to stress, such as an unexpected job loss, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes surrounding sleep or medications if insomnia is not thought to be from another medical condition.
When insomnia becomes chronic and other treatments do not alleviate symptoms, cognitive behavioral therapy may be needed for treatment, and is oftentimes the first treatment as it has proven to be as effective, if not more effective, than medications.
Your doctor may recommend using specific strategies to help you reduce and eliminate worrisome thoughts and stresses, particularly those associated with falling asleep. When you have insomnia, even for a short period of time, you can develop a fear of not being able to fall asleep, which only furthers your inability to fall asleep. CBT-I can help eliminate those thoughts by using:
- Relaxation: Muscle relation techniques , breathing techniques and biofeedback therapy .
- Paradoxical intention: In order to reduce the anxiety of being afraid to fall asleep, paradoxical intention is like the reverse psychology of sleep in that you get into bed trying to stay awake, not trying to fall asleep.
- Modified sleep schedule: By decreasing the time spent in bed and eliminating naps for a short stint sleep deprivation can make you more tired and able to sleep once you are in bed. Over time the amount of time in bed can be stretched to a normal amount of required sleep.
If You Can’t Fall Asleep Get Up
Don’t lay in bed for hours trying to sleep. It’s only going to make it harder. For one thing, you don’t want to condition your mind to associate your bed with lying awake.
This goes back to the concept of stimulus control. Lying awake in bed trains your brain to associate bed with wakefulness rather than sleep. It’s also likely that the longer you lay in bed, the more anxious you will get about not being able to sleep.
“We tell ourselves things like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have a hard time falling asleep again’ and ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so tired and I have to work in the morning,'” Moore says. “Those types of stories come into our brain and can increase our anxiety and actually make it harder to fall asleep.”
Try going to bed at your normal time, but if you are still awake after 20 to 30 minutes, get out of bed or read a book . Once you feel tired enough to fall asleep, try getting back in bed. Moore says this applies even to people who wake up in the middle of the night.
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Can Melatonin Help Me Sleep
Your body produces a hormone called melatonin that promotes sleep. Some people take melatonin supplements as a sleep aid. But theres no proof that these supplements work. Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesnt regulate supplements the same as medications, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking one.
Establish A Set Routine
Sticking to a reliable sleep routine helps encourage sleep as well. A healthy bedtime routine includes following the same pattern prior to going to bed each night. This might entail taking a shower or a bath, getting in pajamas, having a cup of tea, doing some stretches, reading a book, and/or lighting a candle. Any activities that you find calming, centering, and/or restorative will work.
The key is to do the same sequence of relaxing activities before bed consistentlythat pattern can help set the stage for an easier time falling asleep.
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Insomnia And Specific Sleep Disorders
Specific sleep disorders can be a cause of insomnia. Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes numerous breathing lapses and temporary sleep interruptions, affects up to 20% of people and can be an underlying factor causing insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
Restless Leg Syndrome detracts from sleep by causing a powerful urge to move the legs. Abnormal behaviors during sleep, known as parasomnias, can interfere with sleep. Some well-known examples of parasomnias include sleepwalking, nightmares, and sleep paralysis.
Why Is Sleep Important
Getting enough sleep is imperative and can have a huge range of mental and physical health benefits. During sleep, our bodies work to repair damaged DNA and cells caused by free radicals and this is a key reason why we need sleep.
Sleep plays an important role in allowing our body to rest and recover its energy levels and supports healthy brain function, so you can wake up feeling recharged and alert. Other sleep benefits include maintaining a healthy balance of hormones, strengthening your immune system, boosting your memory and increasing your capacity for learning and productivity. Sleep also promotes growth and brain development in children.
Poor sleep quality or sleep deficiency over time means the brain cannot function properly and can also increase your risk of weight gain, obesity, and chronic health conditions like strokes. In addition, not getting enough sleep can affect your bodys ability to produce cytokines a protein that supports your immune system by targeting infection and inflammation meaning you are more susceptible to diseases. If mental health problems are causing your insomnia, it can be a difficult cycle to break, as sleepless nights can increase stress and anxiety levels, which can further exacerbate mental health issues.
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What Are The Causes Of Insomnia In Teens
Insomnia has been estimated to affect up to 23.8% of teens. Biological changes push teens toward a later, night owl sleep schedule, but they usually cant sleep as long as they would like in the morning because of school start times.
Teens may be especially susceptible to overscheduling and stress from school, work, and social obligations. Teens also have high rates of using electronic devices in their bedroom. Each of these factors contributes to a high rate of insomnia during adolescence.
Common Psychological And Medical Causes Of Insomnia
Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when it is tied to an obviously temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Having difficulty sleeping can also make anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include anger, worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.
Medical problems or illness. Many medical conditions and diseases can contribute to insomnia, including asthma, allergies, Parkinsons disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancer. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia.
Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine , diuretics, and slimming pills.
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What Are The Statistics About Insomnia
The statistics about insomnia reveal that this is the most prevalent sleep disorder. The Cleveland Clinic reports that 70 million U.S. adults experience insomnia every year. Acute insomnia is more common than chronic insomnia.
The American Sleep Association says that 30 percent of people report short-term insomnia, and 10 percent report long-term insomnia. The people most at risk for this disorder are women, the elderly, individuals with mental health conditions, those under stress, and people with irregular sleep schedules.
Onset Vs Maintenance Insomnia
Sleep physicians generally see two main types of insomniac behavior in patients: difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep. Before you visit a sleep specialist to seek diagnosis and treatment, ask yourself: which kind of insomnia behavior or pattern do I have?
Are you the type of person who stares at the wall or the alarm clock all night, waiting to fall asleep? Do you need to watch TV in bed for a couple hours in order to get drowsy, or spend hours reading a book? Are your thoughts racing at bedtime? If so, you may have sleeponset insomnia.
Are you able to fall asleep quicklymaybe even the moment your head hits the pillowbut you wake up once or multiple times throughout the night, and then struggle to get back to sleep? In the middle of the night, you wake up and feel alert. Maybe your thoughts race or you feel anxiety about getting back to sleep. This type of insomnia is called maintenance insomnia.
Its possible to even experience both of these problems in a single night.
The truth is, no two people experience insomnia in exactly the same way. You may find your patterns playing out for weeks or months, only to find that they change at some point. Or your sleep difficulties may come and go.
In addition to tracking onset and maintenance insomnia, you need to also keep track of the duration of your insomnia. Are you likely to haveacute insomnia or chronic insomnia ?
Address Underlying Conditions And Concerns
As mentioned above, any underlying or contributing conditions will need to be simultaneously treated. These may include mental and physical health concerns as well as emotional issues and/or the fallout of stressful or traumatic life events. Medications you are taking to treat another illness may also be causing trouble with sleep and may need to be altered.
As a part of your treatment, you’ll want to learn stress management techniques to help you deal with any worries you havethose relating specifically to falling asleep and getting enough sleep as well as any general stressors you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy is another common condition that can contribute to insomnia, so be sure to get specific advice from your doctor at your prenatal visits. Sometimes, adjustments to sleep position or using extra pillows for support can help. Addressing any pregnancy-related anxiety or complications can also improve your ability to get a good night’s rest.
When Should I See My Doctor
It is a good idea to see your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping or you are having problems with your mood, feeling restless in bed, snoring badly or waking up not feeling refreshed. Keeping a sleep diary is a good way to track symptoms, which you can share with your health professional.
If they think you have insomnia, your doctor may refer you to see a sleep specialist or psychologist.
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Trouble Falling Or Staying Asleep Could Be A Disorder
Sanja Jelic, MD, is board-certified in sleep medicine, critical care medicine, pulmonary disease, and internal medicine.
Insomnia is an inability to get enough sleep. Symptoms can include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking earlier than desired. People with insomnia often report chronically poor quality sleep that may be light and unrefreshing. As a result, people with insomnia also have daytime symptoms like poor attention, irritability, and reduced energy.
There are three types of insomnia: transient, short-term, and chronic. Transient insomnia lasts less than a month. Short-term insomnia lasts between one and six months. Chronic insomnia lasts longer than six months.
Fortunately, insomnia can be effectively treated in many different ways, ranging from the temporary use of sleeping pills to cognitive behavioral therapy.
Insomnia negatively affects daytime functioning, leading to one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue or daytime sleepiness
- Behavioral problems
- Inability to nap
- Headache, upset stomach, and chronic pain complaints
Studies suggest that the risk of suicide may double among those with insomnia. Anyone with such thoughts should seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 273-8255, or by going to the nearest emergency room.
Chronic Vs Acute Insomnia: Definition Symptoms And Causes
Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or trouble getting restful, uninterrupted sleep. Its the most common sleep disorder in the United States, with short-term insomnia affecting nearly 1 in 3 adults and long-term, chronic insomnia affecting 1 in 10 adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 70 million Americans experience insomnia to some degree. This frustrating sleep disorder can also disrupt the normal sleep of children and teens.
Do you have insomnia? If youre unhappy with the quality or duration of your sleep, you may well be among the numbers cited above. However, dont panic. Its important to note that there are multiple forms of insomnia, and this sleep disorder may be temporary or chronic.
Either way, you can improve your sleep with the help of a sleep specialist. The first step is to track your symptoms and see if youre likely to have insomnia, and if so, which type.
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When To See A Doctor For Insomnia
If your insomnia is chronic and gets in the way of your feeling refreshed, rested, and mentally or physically healthy, confide in your doctor. Physical pain is another sign that you should schedule an exam.
Your primary physician may refer you to a sleep specialist for diagnosis. A sleep medicine physician can examine you and order tests like a sleep study if needed.
The goal of seeing a specialist for insomnia is to determine if your sleep problem has an underlying physical or psychological cause. Once this is known, you and your sleep specialist can work together to design a strategy for managing your symptoms and improving your sleep, and your overall health.
Remember, getting enough sleep is not optional its a critical part of staying healthy and reducing your risk of a number of different diseases and health conditions, including mental health problems, cardiovascular disease and cognitive issues.
What Other Problems Can Insomnia Cause
Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy. It also can make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may have trouble focusing on tasks, paying attention, learning, and remembering. Insomnia also can cause other serious problems. For example, it could make you may feel drowsy while driving. This could cause you get into a car accident.
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What Is Insomnia: Defining Both Acute And Chronic Insomnia
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. Unlike many other medical conditions, it has a relatively simple definition. Insomnia means an inability to sleep, says Gerard J. Meskill, MD, a neurologist and sleep disorders specialist with Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Associates in Houston. Characteristics of insomnia include not being able to fall asleep, not staying asleep throughout the night, and waking up too early in the morning.
More specifically, there are two types of insomnia: acute and chronic. Acute insomnia means you have trouble sleeping for only a short period of time, even if that means only for one night. Virtually everybody gets acute insomnia every once in a while, Dr. Meskill says. But this insomnia is so short lasting that once the cause behind it disappears, you return to your normal sleep patterns, according to a study in the journal Chest.
Acute insomnia can still be a problem, however, because if ignored and not addressed it can lead to longer-term chronic insomnia.
Chronic insomnia is more severe and involves difficulty sleeping three or more days per week over the course of three months. Individuals with chronic insomnia also report disruptions in their daytime functioning, including sleepiness, irritability, or anxiety, or difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering, Dr. Nowakowski says.
What Is Insomnia Caused By
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors, which tend to fall into four categories: external factors, substance use, mental health conditions and physical health conditions.
1. External factors
External factors can often trigger insomnia, for example, sleeping in a room thats too hot or too cold, loud noises, light filtering in through a window, and an uncomfortable bed. In addition, anything that disrupts your circadian rhythm can contribute to insomnia, such as shift work and jet lag.
2. Substance use
Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can all adversely affect your sleep patterns, as well as recreational drug use like cocaine and ecstasy.
3. Mental health conditions
Its quite common for someone experiencing stress, anxiety or depression to suffer from insomnia. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have also been linked to an increased risk of sleep trouble.
4. Physical health conditions
Some physical health conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, Alzheimers disease, overactive thyroid and menopause can also impact sleep patterns and cause insomnia.
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How Can I Prevent Insomnia
Lifestyle changes and improvements to your bedtime routine and bedroom setup can often help you sleep better:
- Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Be physically active during the day, outside if possible.
- Cut back on caffeine, including coffee, sodas and chocolate, throughout the day and especially at night.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.
- Put away smartphones, TVs, laptops or other screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Turn your bedroom into a dark, quiet, cool sanctuary.
- Unwind with soothing music, a good book or meditation.