If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you may be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is a symptom; it may be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, disease, pain, medications, sleep disorders, or poor sleep habits. Your sleep environment and health habits may also play a role in your sleep problems. Insomnia may be experienced for a few days, for two to three weeks, or it may be chronic, lasting for three weeks or more. Chronic insomnia is more difficult to treat, and doesn’t go away on its own. You may need to see a physician or sleep specialist.
Treating insomnia with medication is the most common treatment for this sleep disorder. Twenty-five percent of Americans take some type of medication every year to help them sleep. Fortunately, sleep specialists have devised a variety of other approaches for treating insomnia. Behavioral approaches involve actions you take. Medication may help you sleep as you try these sleep-friendly practices. Combining behavioral and medical approaches works well for many people.
Who Has Insomnia?
- Forty-eight percent of Americans report insomnia occasionally, while 22 percent experience insomnia every or almost every night. (National Sleep Foundation 1998 Omnibus Sleep In America Poll)
- Women are 1.3 times more likely to report insomnia than men.
- People over 65 are 1.5 times more likely to complain of insomnia than younger people.
- Divorced, widowed and separated people report more insomnia.
Impact of Insomnia
Insomnia can have a very serious impact on quality of life, productivity, and safety:
- People with insomnia are four times as likely to suffer from depression than people who sleep well.
- Lack of sleep due to insomnia may contribute to illness, including heart disease.
- Safety on the job, at home, and on the road may be affected my sleepiness.
- People with insomnia may miss more time from work or receive fewer promotions.
- After a poor night’s sleep, many people report accomplishing fewer daily tasks and enjoying activities less.
After you have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you will have several options for treatment. Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for you based on the assessment of your individual sleep study and medical history. Work with your doctor to get the most out of this plan. Successful treatment of sleep disorders will help you get a quiet, restful sleep and let you wake up feeling alert, refreshed, and ready to face the day!