Do you experience difficulty falling or staying asleep? Do you awake often during the night or have restless sleep? Do you wake too early, or simply not feel refreshed in the morning? Assuming that there are not other factors affecting your sleep (such as young children or other health issues), these could be signs of insomnia.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by the above symptoms. People with insomnia typically suffer during the day from lack of sleep. Side effects from insomnia include fatigue, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability, all due to a lack of quality nighttime sleep. Quality sleep is key–insomnia is characterized by the quality of sleep more so than the number of hours a person sleeps. The optimal number of hours of sleep a person needs each night varies from one person to the next. But interrupted, poor quality sleep can make a person tired and irritable, regardless of the total hours.
There are many types of insomnia. Essentially, insomnia is a symptom of other issues. External factors, such as stress, may cause insomnia, as can physical problems. People of all ages can suffer from insomnia, from young children to older adults. Identifying the root cause is essential for developing effective treatment options. Treatments for insomnia can range from making environmental changes in one’s daily life or sleeping area, to the use of prescribed medications. When medications are prescribed, it is usually for a short period of time.
A medical doctor or psychologist can determine if you have insomnia. The treatment process will depend on each specific case. However, there are things you can do on your own to help ensure a better night’s rest.
** Maintain a regular bedtime and awakening time throughout the week. Many people change their sleep schedule on the weekends, but this can make a sleep problem worse.
** Use your bed only for sleep and sexual intimacy. Avoid reading or eating in bed, watching TV, or engaging in other activities. This will help train your body to sleep when you go to bed.
** Avoid stimulants such as caffeine for four to six hours before going to bed. Exercise can also act as a stimulant, so avoid exercising within four hours of retiring for the night.
** Avoid going to bed hungry or over-full. Both conditions can make it difficult to sleep.
** Try to change arrange your life so that external stressors are limited. If you are worried about something, or a great deal of stress, sleep may be difficult.
These are only a few suggestions. Sleep specialists are able to work with you to determine specific causes of sleep disturbance. If there is concern of a physical problem, undergoing a sleep study can determine if you have apnea or other sleeping issues. Consult your regular physician or make an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or visit a sleep specialist. Sleep deprivation caused by insomnia can be problematic in your daily life. Determining the cause of sleep problems and taking necessary actions to correct the problems can make a significant impact on your life.