Insomnia - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Insomnia

Stop the cycle of sleeplessness

Virtually everyone has an occasional bad night of sleep. Short-term stress, jet lag, medical illness or emotional problems can produce a brief period of disturbed sleep.

Unfortunately, many people suffer from debilitating sleeplessness that lasts for weeks, months or even years.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is defined as short and poor quality sleep that affects your functioning during the day. Although the amount of sleep a person needs varies, most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed.

There are two general types of insomnia:

  • Acute insomnia is a short-term sleep problem that’s generally related to a stressful or traumatic life event and lasts from a few days to a few weeks.
  • Chronic insomnia is a severe, long-term sleep problem that occurs at least three nights a week for more than a month.

Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

The most common nighttime signs of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or waking too early or too often.

During the day, the sufferer might be fatigued, irritable or depressed, or have difficulty with concentration or memory.

Causes of Insomnia

Frequently, continued poor sleep reflects an expectation or "worry" about not being able to sleep – a vicious circle that’s difficult to overcome.

Other causes of insomnia include:

  • Poor sleep habits
  • Misuse of medications
  • Irregular work schedules or specific environmental disturbances
  • Persistent emotional difficulties
  • Disturbed breathing patterns (sleep apnea), repeated muscle spasms

Health Risks

In addition to the brain functions impaired by sleep deprivation, people with insomnia are at greater risk for workplace or driving accidents during “microsleep” episodes.

What You Can Do

Nighttime rituals might seem like a too-easy solution, but the following guidelines are proven to be critical in establishing healthy sleep patterns:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Always sleep in a bed in a dark, quiet room – avoid the temptation to sleep in a recliner or on the couch.
  • Give yourself time to unwind from daily activities to help clear your mind.
  • Follow the same “getting ready for bed” routine every night.
  • Get regular daily exercise.
  • Don’t eat within four hours of going to bed.
  • Avoid all caffeine six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco two hours before bedtime.

What Your Doctor Can Do

Your doctor may order an overnight sleep test to confirm or rule out other disorders, such as sleep apnea.

Several medicines can help relieve insomnia and re-establish a regular sleep schedule. However, if your insomnia is the symptom or side effect of another problem, it's important to treat the underlying cause (if possible).

A type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the anxiety that can prolong chronic (ongoing) insomnia. CBT targets the thoughts and actions that can disrupt sleep and encourages good sleep habits. The Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers offer CBT services by a licensed neuropsychologist.

Are you ready to put your sleep problems to rest?

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, call the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers at 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703) or use our easy online request form – our sleep technicians are available 24 hours a day.