Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia may be its own diagnosis or a symptom of another physical or mental health problem.
There are two types of insomnia:
1. Transient insomnia is insomnia that comes on suddenly and lasts for a week or less. People do not typically seek treatment for transient insomnia, but may have several episodes.
2. Acute insomnia is the inability to sleep well for a month or less, and is commonly caused by stress or lifestyle factors. Chronic insomnia is ongoing insomnia that may get better for brief periods only to return.
What are the Symptoms of Insomnia?
The primary symptom of insomnia is difficulty sleeping, and may include symptoms such as:
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia can be caused by lifestyle factors such as stress, inappropriate sleeping conditions, relationship problems, diet, excessive caffeine intake, and substance abuse. Some prescription medications can also contribute to the development of insomnia. Health problems such as frequent urination, difficulty breathing, infection, endocrine system disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease can also cause or worsen insomnia. Insomnia is a symptom of several mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. For some people, insomnia is the symptom of an underlying illness that finally causes them to seek medical help.
Is There Treatment for Insomnia?
The treatment of insomnia varies greatly and depends primarily on its cause. Clinicians may prescribe antidepressants or antianxiety medications for mental health conditions for which insomnia is a symptom. Insomnia caused by medical illness is typically treated secondarily to the underlying illness. Clinicians may also recommend lifestyle changes. When no cause of the insomnia can be found, clinicians may recommend a sleep study to determine if disordered sleep patterns might be contributing to symptoms. Patients may be prescribed sleeping medication when no other cause of insomnia can be found.
Last updated: 09-10-2012