What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is, simply, persistent problems with falling asleep or staying asleep. People with insomnia typically complain about poor or un-refreshing sleep and often suffer from drowsiness, lack of focus, lower energy, fatigue, impaired mental function and moodiness during the waking hours.
There are three main types of insomnia, and properly identifying the type is a critical element in creating the right individual treatment plan.
Acute insomnia is relatively short term, usually lasting up to one month—which may feel like an eternity to the person suffering from it! Life changes, persistent stress, physical illness or emotional strain are often the sources of acute insomnia. A stressful situation may induce several nights of poor sleep, and a patient may need to seek treatment if stress regularly causes a pattern of poor sleep.
Similarly, an individual experiences several weeks of poor sleep should seek treatment before the pattern becomes longer term or develops into chronic insomnia.
This insomnia occurs at the same time as another health issue; it is associated with that issue and often marked by impairment during waking hours. Common health risks and disease states associated with co-related insomnia include:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Heartburn (GERD—gastroesophogeal reflux disease)
- Depression and anxiety
- Multiple sclerosis
For successful diagnosis and treatment, these compound physical and mental conditions require complete, careful compilation and evaluation of information about the individual patient’s health and disease states. Almost without fail, helping the patient sleep better helps his or her overall wellbeing and ability to deal with other health challenges.
Primary or Chronic Insomnia
Primary insomnia lasts longer than a month and has no connection to another issue or condition. Causes of primary insomnia are specific to the individual and are often a composite of biological, behavioral and cognitive factors. Symptoms from primary insomnia often become more apparent in middle adulthood, when an individual’s traits, behaviors and mental patterns have been established for some time.
With primary insomnia the key to successful treatment is accurate diagnosis.