Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects approximately 10 to 15 percent of adults in the United States. People with insomnia may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both.
Effects from Insomnia
Insomnia can lead to chronic fatigue and daytime drowsiness. Because insomnia robs people of restorative sleep, people with the condition often do not feel rested. It can affect work performance and increase the risk of sustaining an accident or injury. Many experts speculate that sleepy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Inadequate sleep can also lead to difficulty focusing. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, chronic sleep loss has been linked to heart disease, obesity and mood disorders.
Acute, or short-term, insomnia refers to sleeping problems lasting for three months or less. In most cases, it is caused by stressed or other emotional concerns. Excessive noise, problems at work, family issues, financial concerns and other environmental factors can also cause acute insomnia. Chronic insomnia is different and refers to long-term sleeping issues. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is associated with difficulty sleeping over an extended period of time.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that if your bedtime is not synchronized with your biological clock, it may cause sleeping issues. This is why a change in your work schedule, for example, can trigger bouts of insomnia. Underlying medical conditions and certain medications are also thought to disrupt sleep. In general, sleep problems tend to occur more often as we age.
In terms of treatment, doctors will usually begin by ruling out an underlying medical condition. If that’s not a concern, environmental changes will likely be suggested. This may include not eating close to bedtime or removing the television from the bedroom. For some, behavioral therapy and/or medicinal sleep aids can help with adopting healthier sleep habits.