What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep,
hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.
With insomnia, you usually feel restless, which takes a toll on your ability
to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level
and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.
Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term
(chronic) insomnia. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be
secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication.
Insomnia symptoms may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Awakening during the night
- Awakening too early
- Not feeling well rested after a night's sleep
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
- Increased errors or accidents
- Tension headaches
- Distress in the stomach and intestines
- Ongoing worries about sleep
Someone with insomnia will often take 30 minutes or more to fall asleep
and may get only six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights
a week over a month or more.
Common causes of insomnia include:
- Medical conditions
- Change in your environment or work schedule
- Poor sleep habits
- Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
- Eating too much late in the evening
In addition to asking you a number of questions, your doctor may have you
complete a questionnaire to determine your sleep-wake pattern and your
level of daytime sleepiness. You may also be asked to keep a sleep diary
for a couple of weeks if you haven't already done so.
Your doctor will likely do a physical exam to look for signs of other problems
that may be causing insomnia. Occasionally, a blood test may be done to
check for thyroid problems or other conditions that can cause insomnia.
If the cause of your insomnia isn't clear, or you have signs of another
sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, you may
need to spend a night at a sleep center, like Torrance Memorial Sleep
Disorder Center. Tests are done to monitor and record a variety of body
activities while you sleep, including brain waves, breathing, heartbeat,
eye movements and body movements.
Changing your sleep habits and addressing any underlying causes of insomnia,
such as medical conditions or medications, can restore restful sleep for
many people. If these measures don't work, your doctor may recommend
medications to help with relaxation and sleep.
You Can Sleep Better!
Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you many have a sleep disorder
like insomnia. If you have additional questions or need information please
call Torrance Memorial Sleep Disorders Center to assist you, 310-517-4617.