Getting enough sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health. While the exact amount you need per night varies person to person, experts recommend healthy adults get between seven to nine hours. Unfortunately, many fall short of this target. This may be caused by the most common sleep disorder – insomnia.
What Is Insomnia?
This condition leads to trouble falling and staying asleep, meaning those with insomnia get too little sleep and often experience sleep that is poor quality.
There are two types of insomnia, acute and chronic. According to Dr. Alcibiades Rodriguez, medical director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center at NYU Langone Health, “In adults, chronic insomnia is defined as the inability to fall or stay asleep, or waking up earlier than desired … It has to be present at least three times per week for three months.”
Acute insomnia lasts less than three months and may only occur a few days per week.
Insomnia can be further classified as primary or secondary. Primary insomnia is usually influenced by genetics and occurs in isolation, while secondary insomnia is the result of an underlying condition.
Environmental influences and stress are often the cause of secondary insomnia. Medical issues such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or chronic pain can all lead to trouble sleeping.
Regardless of the type, the key symptoms of insomnia include:
- Lying awake for long periods before falling asleep
- Only sleeping for short periods of time
- Being awake most of the night
- Daytime sleepiness
Can Insomnia Be Treated?
Lifestyle changes are usually all that is required to treat acute insomnia. Tips include:
- Avoid taking naps during the day
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Keep a sleep schedule
Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, can be a lifelong problem. “We can control it, but not cure it,” Dr. Rodriguez explains. “But remember, in medicine we don’t cure many things. For example, we don’t cure diabetes or high blood pressure, but we control them.”
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends cognitive behavioral therapy as the first step in learning to manage your insomnia.
To learn more about sleep disorders or to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor, contact the professionals at San Diego ENT today.