Insomnia is a very common sleep issue where patients may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep or where patients wake up too early and do not get enough sleep through the night. Occasional insomnia – sleeplessness that lasts for a few days or a couple weeks is known as acute insomnia. Some people experience longer-term chronic insomnia that can last for months or even years.
Causes of Insomnia
Short-term or acute insomnia is usually related to a stressful or traumatic event or can be related to new medication, a change in life circumstances and much more. Short term insomnia typically resolves when the underlying problem does – and most patients do not suffer any long-term ill effects.
Chronic, long-term insomnia however may have lasting consequences and therefore should be evaluated by an experienced sleep physician such as Dr. Anwar. Many times, even treating the underlying cause of the insomnia is not sufficient for the patient to get back to normal sleeping patterns. The primary causes of chronic insomnia include:
- Chronic stress, usually from work or family life. Someone with a particularly stressful job or who may travel quite a bit as well as family issues including finances, disability, poor health, even death can all cause longer-term insomnia
- Mental illness or substance abuse/addiction may go hand-in-hand to create insomnia. Insomnia then worsens the underlying disorder by increasing the risk of depression and forcing the patient to use artificial stimuli to stay awake during the day
- Insomnia may also be caused by other sleep disorders including restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea
- Conditions including chronic pain, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux hormonal changes are in balances, Parkinson’s disease or dementia can all contribute to greater risk of insomnia. The issue can be a physical or mental reaction to the stress of worsening health and disease.
- Insomnia may also be worsened by the aging process. As we age, our sleeping patterns change. While elderly patients require the same 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night as younger adults, they often do not get that much. Further, a reduction in physical and mental activity that many elderly patients experience can also create a risk of worsened insomnia. Generally poor health and taking a variety of medications may also interfere with an elderly patient’s proper sleep patterns
Risk Factors for Insomnia
The most common risk factors for insomnia are
- being female
- being over the age of 60
- suffering from mental illness
- poor general health
- excessive stress at work or at home
- an irregular work, travel or family schedule
Diagnosis and Treatment
Proper treatment for insomnia starts with an accurate diagnosis, which is possible through the advanced diagnostic testing here at The Sleep Center at Huntington Heart Center. We will begin with a thorough medical history and understanding of your lifestyle. Then, a sleep study, performed in the comfort in the comfort of our sleep facility on Long Island can determine what may be causing insomnia.
From there, our sleep specialist, Dr. Anwar, can recommend lifestyle, phamacologic and medical device options to alleviate some of the underlying causes of your insomnia. If there are multiple causes, we work with your primary care physician, other specialists and even mental health professionals to assist you in sleeping better and improving your physical and mental well-being.