Have you ever had long periods where you find it difficult to get to sleep? Are you often up late at night counting down the hours until you have to get up? You may be wondering if you have insomnia, but just what is insomnia and how do you overcome this common sleep disorder?

What is it?

Insomnia is a common sleep condition that causes the sufferer to experience difficulty in falling asleep or even staying asleep. People with insomnia tend to have difficulty falling asleep (onset), staying asleep (maintenance), and/or they wake up too early in the morning. Sufferers can experience sleeplessness even when there are ideal conditions for falling asleep and when they are not disturbed1.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeling as if sleep was unrefreshing.
  • Experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • General lack of energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Mood and behaviour disturbances such as irritability, aggression, and impulsive behaviours.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Decreased performance at work or school.
  • Troubles in personal and professional relationships.
  • Decreased quality of life.
  • Depression2.

How long will it last?

Insomnia is characterized based on the length of time the sufferer experiences sleeplessness.

 Acute insomnia

This often happens because of life circumstances such as bad news, external stressors, anxiety or depression. Many people may have experienced this type of sleep disruption and will find that it tends to resolve without any treatment required.

Chronic insomnia

This is categorised by disrupted sleep that happens at least three nights a week and lasts for at least three months. There are many causes for experiencing chronic insomnia. Changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, shift work, other health conditions, and certain medications can all affect our sleep patterns. If you suffer from chronic insomnia you should get in touch with your doctor who can help you restore a healthy sleep pattern3.

What should I do if I think I have insomnia?

If you think you are suffering from insomnia it is important to go to your doctor. You and your doctor will need to talk about things that could impact on your sleep and your sleep history, to therefore determine the best way to help you 4.

Stuff you should know

  • Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders with approximately half of adults report having symptoms of insomnia at one point in their lives.
  • 10% of people have experienced chronic insomnia.
  • It is more likely to occur in women than in men.
  • It is more likely to affect elderly adults.
  • People who are naturally more awake and alert may be more likely to suffer.
  • If you regularly use stimulants and alcohol you may experience it more often.
  • People with poor sleep hygiene practices are more likely to experience the condition.

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Footnotes

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-is-insomnia/page/0/1
  2. https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/insomnia-facts-symptoms-causes-treatment-poor-quality-sleep
  3. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-is-insomnia
  4. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-is-insomnia/page/0/1

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