Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night
- Waking up too early and having trouble going back to sleep
- Feeling tired upon waking
Types of Insomnia
Primary Insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
Secondary Insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (e.g., asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn), pain, medication they are taking, or a substance they are using (such as alcohol or caffeine).
Acute Insomnia: Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. It can be caused by significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving), illness, emotional or physical discomfort, and environmental factors (such as light, noise, or extreme temperatures).
Chronic Insomnia: Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer. Causes of chronic insomnia include depression, chronic pain, substance abuse, poor sleep habits, or, perversely, worrying about getting enough sleep.
Common Treatments for Insomnia
Over-the-counter products: Many of these sleep aids contain antihistamine. They can help you get to sleep, but can also cause daytime sleepiness. Other products, including herbal supplements, have little evidence to support their effectiveness.
Prescription sleeping pills: Prescription medication is often effective at producing good short-term outcome – a good night sleep, but this benefit comes at a price. Like many drugs, some sleep medications are subject to tolerance and can produce chemical dependency. Even ‘”safe” drugs can result in dependence in that the person believes they need the drug to sleep.
Unapproved prescription drugs: Drugs from a variety of classes have been used to treat insomnia without FDA approval. Antidepressants such as Trazedone are commonly prescribed for insomnia. Others include anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. Many of these medications involve a significant level of risk.
Treatment Paths to Good Long-Term Outcome
Chronic Insomnia (lasting more than one month) can have serious consequences. To achieve good long-term outcome it is best if the person suffering the insomnia is an active part of the treatment team. The focus of insomnia treatment program presented here is to improve your ability to operate this creature you inhabit.
The first step is to determine the cause of the sleep problem: Is insomnia the result of an identifiable cause such as depression, anxiety, pain, use of stimulants or medications, inactivity poor sleep habits? [It usually is]. And then to develop an effective solution, see below:
Sleep Hygiene Training: Developing good habits that promote sleep for example, going to bed only when sleepy, waking at the same time daily, leaving the bed when unable to sleep
Sleep Restriction: Severely limiting and then gradually increasing your time in bed.
Cognitive Therapy: Changing attitudes and beliefs that hinder your sleep. In cases where the sleep disorder is secondary to depression or anxiety, Cognitive Therapy is the most effective strategy to resolve the underlying Mood Disorder.
Relaxation Training: Learning and practicing how to relax your body and mind.
Hypnosis: Hypnosis means sleep, and is one form of Intentional Trance Formation, a very important part of our insomnia therapy. Please view our Insomnia Therapy Hypnotic Induction designed to promote natural and healthful sleep.