What is insomnia?
Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you’ve had enough opportunity to sleep. Most people have problems sleeping at some point in their life. It’s thought that a third of people in the UK have bouts of insomnia. Insomnia tends to be more common in women and more likely to occur with age.
The most common symptoms of insomnia are:
- difficulty falling asleep
- waking up during the night
- waking up early in the morning
- feeling irritable and tired and finding it difficult to function during the day
Types of insomnia
Insomnia can be classified as transient, acute, or chronic.
- Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or stress. Its consequences – sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance – are similar to those of sleep deprivation.
- Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month. Insomnia is present when there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or when the sleep that is obtained is non-refreshing or of poor quality. These problems occur despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep and they must result in problems with daytime function. 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. People with high levels of stress hormones or shifts in the levels of cytokines are more likely to have chronic insomnia Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include muscular fatigue, hallucinations, and/or mental fatigue. Some people that live with this disorder see things as if they are happening in slow motion, wherein moving objects seem to blend together. Chronic insomnia can cause double vision.
The first step in treating insomnia is to find out whether the problem is being caused by an underlying medical condition. If it is, once the condition has been treated your insomnia may disappear without the need for further medical help. You should also adhere to good sleep hygiene including:
- establishing fixed times for going to bed and waking up (avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep)
- trying to relax before going to bed
- maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright)
- avoiding napping during the day
- avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed
- avoiding exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise in the middle of the day is beneficial)
- avoiding eating a heavy meal late at night
- avoiding watching or checking the clock throughout the night
- only use the bedroom for sleep and sex
Appointments and enquiries
If you would like to arrange an appointment, make a referral or require further information about how we can help please telephone our Wolverhampton practice on: 01902 827808. Alternatively fill out our online contact form.