General statistics show that over 30% of the U.S. suffers from insomnia.
Many Americans experience some form of short-term insomnia due to stress
or anxiety; however, deeper medical problems can also cause long-term
insomnia. While a lack of sleep seems like a minor health issue, it can
lead to problems such as falling asleep while driving or even more serious
health problems like weight gain. At Whittier Hospital Medical Center,
we are dedicated to helping our patients get a full night’s rest
and to helping them lead a healthy lifestyle that improves their wellbeing.
If you have further questions about insomnia and what treatments are available to you, contact us!
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a pattern of sleep disruptions, typically the inability to
fall asleep, the inability to stay asleep, or waking up too early in the
morning. Instead of being a medical problem on its own, insomnia is usually
a symptom of a bigger psychological or medical problem.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia can be caused by many things. In some cases, poor sleep hygiene
and lifestyle habits can cause insomnia. In other cases, depression sufferers
frequently experience insomnia.
The following medical disorders may be an underlying cause of insomnia:
- Chronic Anxiety
- Enlarged Prostate
- Hormonal Changes
- Sleep Apnea
Speak with your healthcare professional to discuss the possible causes
of your sleep disorder. In some cases, you may need to undergo a sleep
study to learn more about your insomnia.
What are the Symptoms of Insomnia?
If you aren’t sure whether you actually deal with insomnia or just
have a little trouble sleeping, be on the lookout for these symptoms.
Common symptoms of insomnia:
- Fatigue during waking hours
- Concentration problems
- Mood swings
- Lack of coordination
If any of these are present, you should try to establish healthier sleep
hygiene (see below) and see your doctor for further direction. In some
cases, insomnia is temporarily induced by stress or anxiety.
What Should Patients Try Before Taking a Sleep Aid?
Before taking a sleep aid, patients should attempt to establish better
sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the lifestyle habits and practices
you follow before bedtime.
Try these healthy sleep hygiene practices:
- Establish a regular bedtime routine that allows you to relax before sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid exercise close to bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco close to bedtime.
- Wake up at the same time every morning, including holidays and weekends.
Once these habits are in place, many insomnia sufferers feel an improvement
in their symptoms or are cured altogether. The key to better sleep hygiene
What Treatments are Available for Insomnia?
Because insomnia is so often a symptom of a deeper medical problem, medical
professionals will have to determine the primary cause and treat that
before attempting to improve your insomnia symptoms.
Treatments may include the following:
- Prescription sleep aids
- Over the counter sleep aids
- Sleep hygiene
- Alternative therapies
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Your health care provider will be able to determine what course of action
is best for your symptoms.
Should I See a Doctor for Insomnia?
Many adults experience insomnia for various reasons; however, once circumstances
such as work stress, relationship stress, or even PMS, resolve themselves,
insomnia passes as well. Any long-term bouts of insomnia can negatively
affect your overall health and should be brought to the attention of your
personal health care provider. Because insomnia is usually a symptom of
a deeper medical or psychological issue, it is best to see a doctor if
you have been experiencing long-term insomnia.
Is Insomnia Life-Threatening?
In some cases, insomnia is a result of sleep apnea (holding breath involuntarily
while you sleep). If insomnia is a result of a serious condition such
as this, then it is life-threatening and should be treated immediately.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.