Insomnia is a common sleep disorder in which someone has trouble falling or staying asleep. This results in a lack of quality sleep that leaves one feeling unrested. Insomnia can range from mild to severe, and acute (short-term) to chronic (long-term). Chronic insomnia means having symptoms at least 3 nights a week for more than a month. 1 in 3 adults will sometimes have insomnia. 1 in 10 adults has chronic insomnia.
Negative daytime consequences occur in the form of fatigue, lack of concentration, and mood problems. The prevalence of chronic insomnia is about 10% of the adult population, with a higher rate among women, geriatric populations, and those with medical problems.
Treatments can include medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and sleep hygiene.
- Gabapentin (Neurontin)
- Mirtazapine (Remeron)
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
- Desryl (Trazodone)
- Hydroxyzine (Vistaril)
Lifestyle changes often can help relieve acute insomnia. This is referred to as developing good “sleep hygiene”. Helpful steps may include avoiding substances that make insomnia worse (caffeine), adopting good bedtime habits (not watching television in bed), and going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day.
Sleep Diary: Upon waking up in the morning, review of the last night’s bedtime, time spent asleep, and time you wake up can reveal patterns that might not otherwise be detected. This information can be used to track progress as well.
Sleep Consolidation: This technique is sometimes called sleep restriction, because it involves limiting the amount of time in bed. It involves waking up at a “fixed” time, regardless of what time you go to sleep. This helps set a regular circadian rhythm.
Stimulus Control: This technique is designed to break the negative associations that develop around sleeping and the bed. It involves keeping all non-sleeping activities away from the bed and waiting until sleepiness occurs before going to sleep. If lying awake in bed for more than 15 minutes, you should go to a quite area and engage in a relaxing activity until you are sleepy enough to return to bed.