What Is Insomnia?

You may have heard of insomnia. The term “insomnia” is tossed around liberally, usually for those who seem to be always awake. If you or someone you love has suffered from clinical insomnia, you’ll know that insomnia is more than just an occasional sleepless night or two. Insomnia is a debilitating condition that can range from mild to severe.

Criteria for Insomnia
It’s estimated about one-third of people globally experience poor quality sleep. If sleep issues meet certain criteria, they can be classified as insomnia.

In the DSM-5, the criteria to diagnose someone with insomnia are as follows:

  • Person has difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep, or experiences early-morning awakening that leads to poor sleep quality.
  • The sleep disturbance has negatively impacted their performance in social, occupational, educational, behavioral, or other settings in their life.
  • People must experience symptoms of insomnia with adequate opportunity to sleep for at least 3 nights per week for a period of three months or longer.

In short, everyone has trouble sleeping now and again. Whether it’s caused by stress, a bad mattress, loud neighbors, or something else. However, once sleep issues become persistent, consistent, and detrimental to a person’s life, a sleep disorder is likely at play.

Treating Insomnia
Once diagnosed with insomnia, there are several treatments a doctor may prescribe. People with insomnia are great candidates for behavioral therapy, such as CBT-I, to get to the bottom of their trouble sleeping and alleviate stressors that may be causing insomnia.

A doctor may also prescribe sleep medications, particularly in severe cases, to chemically aid healthy sleep patterns and reduce anxiety around sleep.

Also, doctors will also give patients with insomnia practical tips to prevent insomnia. Some of these tips are:

  • Avoid taking naps during the day.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and stimulant use.
  • Don’t eat meals close to bedtime.
  • Stick to a regimented sleep and wake schedule.
  • Prohibit screen time 30 minutes to an hour before sleep.
  • And more!

Simple tricks and tips like these might not solve insomnia overnight, but they target changing behaviors that when combined can lead to insomnia in some people.

Sleep is essential to a happy and healthy life. Sadly, sleep issues are quite common. Luckily, sleep disorders like insomnia are well-researched and doctors can help people overcome these conditions.

Insomnia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments | Sleep Foundation
Insomnia – Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice US