Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects your quality of life. For some, insomnia makes it hard to fall asleep. Others go to sleep quickly but can’t stay that way. And some fall asleep, but not deep enough for good quality rest.
The type of insomnia you have is based on how long you’re affected by it:
- Acute insomnia typically doesn’t last long and often comes with big life changes.
- Chronic insomnia generally lasts longer than three months and may need treatment.
One in four Americans experiences acute insomnia each year. It’s more common in women than men and more common in people over age 65. But many don’t know they have it, which is why it often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Everyone experiences trouble falling or staying asleep at some point in their lives. Work, family and constant access to technology often prevent people from getting enough sleep. Other culprits include:
- Changes in environment or work schedule.
- Disrupted sleep schedule.
- Significant stress, anxiety or depression.
- Medical conditions.
- Physical discomfort.
- People with chronic insomnia also experience daytime symptoms, including:
- Feeling tired or fatigued.
- Irritability or a depressed mood.
- Problems with concentration or memory.
- Losing your sleep battle can affect every part of your life. It can spill into your day as you struggle with fatigue and decreased attention. It’s also associated with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and substance use disorder. Eventually, it can lead to heart disease, depression and injury from falls or other accidents.
- “Most sleep aids recommend that you devote a full eight hours to sleep, so make sure you are sleeping enough,” says Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer. “You want sleep aids to help you fall asleep, but not leave you groggy the next day.”
- When you first try a sleep aid, pick a night when you don’t have to wake up early, drive or make important decisions the next day. And be aware that taking a higher dose than you mean to or not getting enough rest can lead to excessive morning drowsiness. You could also potentially sleepwalk or “sleep”-talk on the phone or send emails and texts.
- Sleep aids are designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer, but they shouldn’t knock you out. If you have significant difficulty waking up in the morning, tell your doctor.