What is insomnia?
A person with insomnia is consistently unable to get an adequate amount of quality sleep; insomnia is the most common sleep disorder with 1/3 of the population experiencing insomnia at some point in their lives.
What are the main types of insomnia?
An individual with short-term insomnia is unable to get an adequate amount of sleep over a short period of time (days to weeks).
Chronic (Long-term) Insomnia
An individual with chronic insomnia is unable to get an adequate amount of sleep for an extended period of time (more than a month).
What are the steps to getting diagnosed?
Each person's journey to becoming diagnosed with a sleep disorder is different; however, generally, an individual would first need to bring their concerns to their physician or healthcare provider and potentially be referred to a sleep specialist or psychiatrist/psychologist, if needed. Bringing specific information, including detailed information on symptoms as well as concerns, is helpful.
Insomnia is generally diagnosed through a thorough evaluation of your complete medical history, including sleep patterns and complaints and psychiatric history. This would include completion of a sleep questionnaire, sleep logs or other sleep screening tool(s) to determine your sleep history, patterns and symptoms as well as a physical and mental examination. Sleep testing is not generally used to diagnose insomnia but may be needed if your physician determines that you may have other underlying sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome).
How is insomnia typically treated?
The main treatment options for insomnia typically include changes to sleep behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication.
Changes to Sleep Behaviors: Changes to sleep behavior, or sleep hygiene, can improve insomnia symptoms. Sleep hygiene includes bedtime habits, such as what an individual does to get ready for bed and how the bedroom is set-up. This may include: avoiding caffeine later in the day, keeping the bedroom cool, dark and quiet, changing the actual bedtime, practicing restful activities prior to sleep, refraining from exercise before bed and removing electronics from the bedroom.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i): CBT-i is a form of psychotherapy that treats insomnia by addressing the emotions, thoughts and behaviors contributing to the individual's insomnia. It usually includes practices that reduce stress, increase relaxation, and improve sleep hygiene and general sleep management.
Medication: There are several medications indicated for insomnia including certain sedatives, antidepressants and blockers. These drugs may help an individual to fall asleep or stay asleep, however, it should be noted that some insomnia medications are controlled substances and can lead to a dependence and other side effects.
If you feel that you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your primary physician or a sleep specialist regarding your concerns.
*The information above does not constitute medical advice; you should talk with your physician or healthcare provider regarding your medical care, including appropriate treatment options.
Member Only Resource: Insomnia Informational Sheet
This informational sheet provides additional information regarding insomnia and can be used as a resource for patients or for medical professionals to provide as supplemental information for their patients. AAHS members will have indefinite access to these informational sheets through the file archive on your member account.