If you can't sleep, you may be wondering if you have insomnia. Insomnia is a complicated condition. What is the definition of insomnia? According to guidelines. According to guidelines from a physician group, insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. People with insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Difficulty falling asleep. Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep.
is Insomnia? What
Commonly used substances also can cause insomnia. Examples include caffeine and other stimulants, tobacco and other nicotine products, and alcohol and other sedatives. Primary insomnia isn't a symptom or side effect of another medical condition. Primary insomnia usually lasts for at least 1 month. Many life changes can trigger primary insomnia. It may be due to major or long-lasting stress or emotional upset. Travel or other factors, such as work schedules that disrupt your sleep routine, also may trigger primary insomnia.
Even if these issues are resolved, the insomnia may not go away. Trouble sleeping can persist because of habits formed to deal with the lack of sleep. These habits might include taking naps, worrying about sleep, and going to bed early. Researchers continue to try to find out whether some people are born with an increased risk for primary insomnia. Insomnia is a common disorder.
It affects women more often than men. The disorder can occur at any age. However, older adults are more likely to have insomnia than younger people. Young and middle-aged African Americans also might be at increased risk for insomnia. Research shows that, compared with Caucasian Americans, it takes African Americans longer to fall asleep.
They also have lighter sleep, don't sleep as well, and take more naps. Sleep-related breathing problems also are more common among African Americans. The main symptom of insomnia is trouble falling or staying asleep, which leads to lack of sleep. If you have insomnia, you may:. The lack of sleep can cause other symptoms. You may wake up feeling tired or not well-rested, and you may feel tired during the day. You also may have trouble focusing on tasks.
Insomnia can cause you to feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. Insomnia also can affect your daily activities and cause serious problems. For example, you may feel drowsy while driving. Driver sleepiness not related to alcohol is responsible for almost 20 percent of all serious car crash injuries. If insomnia is affecting your daily activities, talk with your doctor. Treatment may help you avoid symptoms and problems related to the disorder.
Also, poor sleep may be a sign of other health problems. Finding and treating those problems could improve your overall health and sleep. Your doctor will likely diagnose insomnia based on your medical and sleep histories and a physical exam. He or she also may recommend a sleep study. For example, you may have a sleep study if the cause of your insomnia is unclear. Your doctor also may ask questions about your work and leisure habits.
For example, he or she may ask about your work and exercise routines; your use of caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol; and your long-distance travel history. Your answers can give clues about what's causing your insomnia.
Your doctor also may ask whether you have any new or ongoing work or personal problems or other stresses in your life. Also, he or she may ask whether you have other family members who have sleep problems. To get a better sense of your sleep problem, your doctor will ask you for details about your sleep habits.
Before your visit, think about how to describe your problems, including:. To help your doctor, consider keeping a sleep diary for 1 or 2 weeks. Write down when you go to sleep, wake up, and take naps.
For example, you might note: Went to bed at 10 a. Also write down how much you sleep each night, as well as how sleepy you feel throughout the day. Your doctor will do a physical exam to rule out other medical problems that might cause insomnia. You also may need blood tests to check for thyroid problems or other conditions that can cause sleep problems. Your doctor may recommend a sleep study called a polysomnogram PSG if he or she thinks an underlying sleep disorder is causing your insomnia.
The PSG records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, and blood pressure. A PSG also records the amount of oxygen in your blood, how much air is moving through your nose while you breathe, snoring, and chest movements. The chest movements show whether you're making an effort to breathe. Lifestyle changes often can help relieve acute short-term insomnia.
These changes might make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. A type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT can help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic ongoing insomnia. Anxiety tends to prolong insomnia. Several medicines also can help relieve insomnia and re-establish a regular sleep schedule.
However, if your insomnia is the symptom or side effect of another problem, it's important to treat the underlying cause if possible. Try to adopt bedtime habits that make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. People with insomnia report a lower quality of life compared with people who are sleeping well. Insomnia care at Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Overview Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep.
Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. American Psychiatric Association; The connection between sleep and mental health. National Alliance on Mental Health. Approach to the patient with sleep or wakefulness disorder.
Merck Manual Professional Version. National Institute on Aging. Kliger B, et al. A review of the evidence. Bonnet MH, et al. Clinical features and diagnosis of insomnia. Bonnet MH, et al, Treatment of insomnia. See your GP if you're still having difficulty getting to sleep after trying these techniques. Daytime habits Set a specific time for getting up each day. Try to stick to this time, seven days a week, even if you feel you haven't had enough sleep.
This should help you sleep better at night. Don't take a nap during the day. But don't exercise for at least four hours before going to bed, because this may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Bedtime habits Stop drinking tea and coffee for a few hours before bedtime.
Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking, particularly shortly before going to bed. Don't eat a big meal just before bedtime. Only go to bed when you're feeling tired. If necessary, go to bed later than usual if it means you might be able to fall asleep more quickly. Don't use back-lit devices shortly before going to bed, including televisions, phones, tablets and computers.
Try to create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a bath, listening to soft music, and drinking a warm, milky drink every night. These activities will be associated with sleep and will cause drowsiness. Avoid regularly using over-the-counter sleeping tablets. It is not clear how effective these are, they don't tackle the underlying problem, and have potential side effects. Read more about treatments for insomnia. Don't lie in bed feeling anxious about lack of sleep.
Instead, get up, go to another room for about 20 minutes and do something else, such as reading or listening to soft music, before trying again. Avoid watching the clock because it will only make you anxious about how long it's taking you to fall asleep.
Write a list of your worries and any ideas to solve them before going to bed. This may help you forget about them until the morning. Bedroom environment Use thick blinds or curtains or wear an eye mask if the early morning sunlight or bright street lamps affect your sleep. Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Wear ear plugs if noise is a problem. Don't use your bedroom for anything other than sleeping or sex. Avoid watching television, making phone calls, eating or working while you're in bed.
Make sure your mattress is comfortable and that you have a pillow you like, as well as adequate bedding for the time of year. Treatments Insomnia will often improve by making changes to your bedtime habits. Good sleeping habits Your GP will be able to advise you about what you can do at home to help you sleep. This is known as "sleep hygiene" and includes: Sleeping tablets Sleeping tablets hypnotics are medications that encourage sleep. They will generally only be considered: Over-the-counter sleeping pills A number of sleeping tablets are available to buy over the counter OTC from pharmacies.
Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines are prescription medicines that can reduce anxiety and promote calmness, relaxation and sleep. They can also cause a number of side effects, including: Z-drugs Z—drugs are a newer type of medicine that work in a similar way to benzodiazepines and are similarly effective.
They're usually only prescribed for a maximum of two to four weeks. Side effects of Z-drugs can include: Melatonin Circadin For adults aged 55 or over, a medication called Circadin is sometimes used to help relieve insomnia for a few weeks. Common side effects of Circadin include:
Insomnia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments That Will Help You Sleep
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can disrupt a person's daily life. About percent of people in the U.S. experience insomnia, and it can be. Insomnia, also known as sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder where people have trouble sleeping. They may have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep as. Insomnia makes it difficult for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. Get information on risk factors and symptoms here. Discover tests and.