Insomnia describes the most common sleep disorder. This condition is characterized by the person wanting to sleep and allowing the necessary time to sleep in a comfortable environment, yet being unable to sleep the desired amount. Insomnia may involve the inability to initiate sleep (onset), the inability to stay asleep (maintenance), or the problem of waking up too early. It is accompanied by some degree of frustration at night and impairment during the day.
Insomnia can be classified as acute, or lasting less than one month and associated with some temporary stressful event, illness, perception, or thought. Sleeping pills for a short duration work well in these situations, and the patient usually recovers the normal sleep routine.
Chronic insomnia is different. It lasts longer than one month, usually for years. Chronic insomnia is more ingrained and difficult to manage than acute insomnia. Over 60% of chronic insomnia cases involve psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, alcohol or drug use, etc. Many also involve medical illnesses such as pain syndromes at night (e.g. arthritis), gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), lung (e.g. asthma) or heart problems. Other sleep disorders may be involved such as sleep apnea, restless legs, or shift work disorder (a kind of circadian rhythm disorder).
Whether psychological issues are present or not, chronic insomnia 100% of the time involves the acquiring of bad sleep habits that perpetuate and aggravate the problem (see Good Sleep Hygiene). Sleeping pills are often attempted by the patient to try to solve the problem. They'll usually work for a short time before their effect wears off, which frustrates the patient even more. Sometimes the patient's expectations are unrealistic, such as the patient who wants to sleep 12 hours per night. Therapy by a trained expert with experience in managing sleep problems is usually the best initial approach to treating insomnia.
- Cleveland Clinic
www.clevelandclinicwellness.com - Go To Sleep
- Mayo Clinic
www.mayoclinic.org - Insomnia Treatment
Books on Insomnia:
- The 4-Week Insomnia Workbook by Sara Dittoe Barrett (2019)
- Insomnia Solved: A Self-Directed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Program by Brandon Peters (2018)
- No More Sleepless Nights by Peter Hauri (1996)
- Say Goodnight to Insomnia by Gregg D. Jacobs and Herbert Benson (2009)