We provide adults and children with a safe and comfortable environment for testing and diagnosing all sleeping disorders.

Insomnia

clockInsomnia is a common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. They may not feel refreshed when they wake up.

Overview

Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy. It also can make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may have trouble focusing on tasks, paying attention, learning, and remembering. These problems can prevent you from doing your best at work or school.

Insomnia also can cause other serious problems. For example, you may feel drowsy while driving, which could lead to an accident.

Types

Transient Insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder or by changes in the sleep environment, the timing of sleep, severe depression, or stress.

Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month. Acute insomnia is also known as short-term insomnia or stress-related insomnia.

Chronic insomnia lasts for longer than a month. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder.

Causes

Primary Insomnia

Primary insomnia isn’t a symptom or side effect of another medical condition. It is its own distinct disorder, and its cause isn’t well understood. Primary insomnia usually lasts for at least one month.

Secondary Insomnia

Secondary insomnia is the symptom or side effect of another problem. This type of insomnia often is a symptom of an emotional, neurological, or other medical or sleep disorder.

Risk Factors

It affects women more often than men, and older adults are more likely to have insomnia than younger people.

People who might be at increased risk for insomnia include those who:

  • Have a lot of stress.
  • Are depressed or have other emotional distress, such as divorce or death of a spouse.
  • Have lower incomes.
  • Work at night or have frequent major shifts in their work hours.
  • Travel long distances with time changes.
  • Have medical conditions or sleep disorders that can disrupt sleep.
  • Have an inactive lifestyle.

Sign and Symptoms

The main symptom of insomnia is trouble falling or staying asleep, which leads to lack of sleep. If you have insomnia, you may:

  • Lie awake for a long time before you fall asleep.
  • Sleep for only short periods.
  • Be awake for much of the night.
  • Feel as if you haven’t slept at all.
  • Wake up too early.

The lack of sleep can cause other symptoms. You may wake up feeling tired or not well-rested, and you may feel tired during the day. You also may have trouble focusing on tasks. Insomnia can cause you to feel anxious, depressed, or irritable.

Insomnia also can affect your daily activities and cause serious problems. For example, you may feel drowsy while driving. Driver sleepiness not related to alcohol is responsible for almost 20 percent of all serious car crash injuries. Research also shows that insomnia raises older women’s risk of falling.

If insomnia is affecting your daily activities, see a sleep specialist. Treatment may help you avoid symptoms and problems related to the disorder. Also, poor sleep may be a sign of other health problems. Finding and treating those problems could improve your overall health as well as your sleep.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will likely diagnose insomnia based on your medical and sleep histories and a physical exam. He or she also may recommend a sleep study if the cause of your insomnia is unclear.

Physical Exam

Your doctor will do a physical exam to rule out other medical problems that might cause insomnia. You also may need blood tests to check for thyroid problems or other conditions that can impact your sleep.

Sleep Study

Your doctor may recommend a sleep study called a polysomnogram (PSG) if he or she thinks an underlying sleep disorder is causing your insomnia. The PSG records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, and blood pressure.

You’ll likely stay overnight at a sleep center for this study.

Treatment

Lifestyle changes often can help relieve acute (short-term) insomnia. These changes might make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

A type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic (ongoing) insomnia. Anxiety tends to prolong insomnia.

Several medicines also can help relieve insomnia and re-establish a regular sleep schedule. However, if your insomnia is the symptom or side effect of another problem, it’s important to treat the underlying cause.