Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep through the night, and most adults suffer from this sleep disorder at some point in their lives.
Although long-term insomnia may contribute to dangerous complications, insomnia can often be treated with lifestyle changes. You should contact your primary care physician if your insomnia seems chronic as described below or if you notice changes in your ability to function while awake.
Insomnia: Forms and Causes
Insomnia may be categorized as primary, in which your symptoms are the result of stress caused by life circumstances, or secondary, in which your sleep problems are associated with other health issues such as arthritis, depression, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or reaction to medication.
Insomnia may further be acute or chronic. Acute insomnia may last up to a few weeks and resolve on its own or with the aid of home treatment. Chronic insomnia is insomnia that reoccurs at least three nights per week for a month or more.
Coping with Insomnia
The key to eliminating insomnia often rests in lifestyle changes that promote good sleep habits. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following lifestyle and home remedy tips:
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day at least 5 hours before going to bed
- Engage in relaxation techniques or therapy to relieve stress
- Limit or avoid napping
- Limit your caffeine intake, and avoid caffeine after lunch
- Limit your alcohol intake, particularly before bed
- Avoid nicotine
- Adhere to a routine bedtime and waking time
- Avoid eating meals or drinking immediately before bed
If home treatment is not effective, your doctor may recommend a prescription sleep aid. Caution is advised when using over-the-counter sleep aids; many contain antihistamines that can make you drowsy but impact your quality of sleep and cause other adverse effects. Some sleep aids may be dangerous for people with sleep apnea, a potentially deadly sleep condition that is often confused with insomnia.
When to See a Physician about Insomnia
If you suffer from chronic insomnia or insomnia impairs your ability to function during the day, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor.
Insomnia shares some symptoms with other sleep disorders, and your physician can help determine the precise cause of your insomnia. Insomnia may also be symptomatic of other health problems or a side-effect of medications.
If you live in the Littleton, Colorado, area and believe you’re experiencing the adverse effects of insomnia, please contact Dr. Andy Fine online or call 303-703-8583 today.