Do I Have Insomnia?

A guide to determine if you have insomnia, and what you can do about it.

Insomnia is an ever growing problem across the world. Studies have shown that approximately one third of Americans and European adults experience some sort of severe insomnia each year. Insomnia is the defined as an inability to sleep or chronic sleeplessness. This means that you aren't going to be getting the 6.5 and 7.5 hours that is recommended a night. Overall, insomnia is more common in women than men, although men are not immune from insomnia. Sleep efficiency deteriorates equally in men and women as they get older.

How can you tell if you have insomnia? Well, if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep you could have insomnia. Other symptoms to look for would be feeling tired during the day or night or falling asleep during the day. If you wake up several times during sleep or wake up from a nights rest with ought feeling refreshed at all you are most likely suffering from insomnia.

There are a few different causes of insomnia. Primary insomnia refers to insomnia that cannot be attributed to any known physical or mental condition. Insomnia can be caused by alcohol, anxiety, coffee, or stress. Insomnia that is caused by a medical condition is classified as secondary insomnia. Depression is a very common cause of secondary insomnia. Other medical conditions that can cause insomnia are asthma, arthritis, cancer, heartburn, or chronic pain. Insomnia can lead to worsening chronic pain as well as headaches.

If you think you have insomnia you should consult a doctor. They will most likely give you an evaluation including a physical exam, medical history, and a sleep history. Most people are also asked to keep a sleep diary for one or two weeks to keep track or both your sleeping patterns and how you feel during the day. In some cases, you might be referred to a sleep center for special tests. If you are diagnosed with acute insomnia, which is insomnia that is only short term, you may not require treatment.

Acute insomnia can often be prevented and cured by following better sleeping habits. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine before bed. Don't take any day time naps. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and avoid large meals near your designated bedtime.

Treatment for chronic insomnia, or insomnia that is long term, is usually started by finding and treating any underlying conditions that are causing the insomnia. In most cases once the underlying problem is taken care of the insomnia goes away. If the insomnia doesn’t go away, you might be referred to behavioral therapy, or even prescribed sleeping pills.


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