Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or simply someone who has difficulty with either or both. It includes a wide range of symptoms including not being able to fall asleep for several hours, waking up early in the morning and not being able to fall back sleep, feeling fatigued when waking up, or waking up often in the middle of the night. There are different types of insomnia, causes and treatment options.

Types of Insomnia

There are two main types of insomnia; primary and secondary. Primary insomnia consists of someone who has sleeping difficulties not related with any other medical condition or problem but can be psychological such as from anxiety or emotional stress. Secondary insomnia is usually brought on from other medical issues keeping them from a good nights’ sleep such as medications they’re taking, asthma, depression, cancer, heartburn, arthritis, chronic pain, or even a substance like alcohol or drugs. Some insomnia cases are acute, where they only last for a short period of time such as from illness or stress. Chronic insomnia on the other hand can last more than 6 months, even years.

Causes of Insomnia

Acute and chronic insomnia are caused by a variety of different factors. Acute insomnia can be from life or relationship stress, illness, physical discomfort, emotional discomfort, environmental factors like being too hot or cold, or noisy in your room, taking medications to treat high blood pressure, depression, or allergies, or interferences with your sleep schedule such as working late hours. Typical causes for chronic insomnia include pain or discomfort at night, stress, anxiety, or depression.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia can bring a variety of signs, not just missing sleep. If you are unable to fall asleep at a normal rate, feel very sleepy throughout the day or when you wake up, have overwhelming tiredness, irritability, concentration or memory problems, wake up too early or too many times during the night, you must be suffering from acute or chronic insomnia.

Diagnosing and Treating Insomnia

The diagnosis process for insomnia typically begins with going over your symptoms and trouble sleeping as well as a physical examination. They will often go over your vitals, medical history, and sleep history. You might need to keep a sleep diary that keeps track of when you sleep or when you have difficulties. To treat insomnia, it usually begins with changing your lifestyle. You might be asked to skip afternoon naps in order to improve your sleep, add exercise to the mix, or switch to a different diet. Cutting out caffeine is another possibility. Some medications are prescribed for chronic insomnia, though there aren’t many treatments for acute insomnia since it is temporary.

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