Considering we are in the middle of a pandemic and have been forced to change the way we live our lives, sleepless nights are on the menu for many of us. Around 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, and insomnia is the most common. But don’t let those numbers fool you; an occasional lost night of sleep is one thing, but chronic insomnia is another. If you have difficulty sleeping, you may have insomnia, and it’s warning signs shouldn’t be ignored.
What is Insomnia?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines insomnia as “persistent difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation or quality.” Many contributing factors can cause it. But, in general, if you have enough allotted hours for sleep, but still have difficulty, and are impaired in the daytime due to poor sleep, it may be insomnia. If you have these symptoms at least three days a week for longer than three months, it is chronic insomnia.
Most diagnosed with insomnia have either difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It is believed to originate from being in a hyperarousal state, which can be mental, physical, or a combination of both. Other factors that play a role in insomnia include:
- Health problems such as physical pain, frequent urination, and sleep apnea.
- Mental disorders like depression, stress, and anxiety can contribute to loss of sleep.
- Ingesting or consuming substances that affect sleep like caffeine, nicotine, diet pills, alcohol, or other drugs.
If an underlying health condition causes your insomnia, treating it will help relieve symptoms. Talking to your doctor about any sleep concerns will assist in getting these issues addressed. In many cases, lifestyle changes and practicing good sleep hygiene will set the foundation for more restful sleep. If sound sleep continues to evade you, then over the counter sleep aids, prescription medication, and other therapeutic options are available.
We mentioned before that there could be numerous causes that contribute to sleep loss and insomnia. The different factors, coupled with how each person’s body functions differently, means there is still more to learn about insomnia. Clinical research studies and their participants provide a pathway for us to understand more about conditions like insomnia. From there, we can find better ways to prevent, manage, and detect them.
If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute to advancing options for insomnia through research studies here at Charlottesville Medical Research, call us at (434) 322-0276.