We would all prefer to be less familiar with the buzzword “insomnia.” An estimated 50 percent of us have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep in the middle of our dreams. The condition actually has a number of facets and is quite varied. Here are six types of insomnia that may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
To clarify, insomnia is characterized by a lack of sleep that interferes with your ability to function normally. International Classification of Sleep Disorders defines insomnia as a persistent problem with initiation, duration, consolidation, or quality of sleep, despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep, and in turn results in some form of impairment during the day.
A neurologist and sleep specialist gives a comprehensive overview of the types of insomnia doctors look for. There are several different types of insomnia (and a person can suffer from multiple types concurrently), so knowing the kind that is causing your lack of dreams is key to effectively treating it.
Below are the 6 types of insomnia and how they are commonly treated.
1. Sleeping disorders
The condition of acute insomnia occurs when an individual has trouble sleeping for less than three months, says sleep medicine specialist Aneesa Das, MD. This is different from having one bad night of sleep. Rather, it affects you in some way and persists. Das says, “It must annoy you.”. It’s not [acute insomnia] when someone says it takes them an hour to fall asleep without getting frustrated.
Dr W notes that acute insomnia is often triggered by a stressor such as the loss of a loved one or the beginning of a new, intense job. The Sleep Solution: Why You’re Not Sleeping Well and How to Fix It by Dr. Christopher Winter. One of the good things about this type of insomnia is that it usually resolves without treatment.
2. Sleeping problems
As long as sleeplessness occurs more than three times a week, Dr. Winter considers it chronic insomnia. Dr. Das clarifies that individuals suffering from chronic insomnia can experience either difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep.
Researchers have found that chronic insomnia is defined as insomnia occurring three or more times each week for at least three months. Christoph Winter, MD
The treatment for chronic insomnia varies, but Dr. Winter says sleep specialists generally recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), counseling that aims to reframe a patient’s perception of sleep.
Changing patients’ perceptions about how much sleep they need, for example, can have a positive effect, says Das. Insomniacs often believe the world will end if they don’t fall asleep tonight. We encourage them to think, ‘I’ve been in insomnia before and I’ve survived’. “I’ll make it through,” she promises.
The use of medication may sometimes be used in conjunction with CBT-I, but it is usually for a short period of time, Dr. Das says.
3. Co-occurring insomnia
According to Dr. Sassower, this form of insomnia is caused by some underlying illness. That could mean you have anxiety or depression that keeps you awake at night, acid reflux that keeps you awake at night, or back pain that prevents you from falling asleep.
Dr. Sassower says you should try to deal with the underlying issue first when you have comorbid insomnia. If you do, your insomnia should disappear.
4. Insomnia on onset
During the beginning of the night, insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep. People with onset insomnia usually take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, Winter says.
Sleep-restriction therapy or CBT-I may be helpful in treating insomnia that occurs suddenly, says Dr. Das. Sleep-restriction therapy involves measuring how much sleep you’re actually getting from how much time you’re spending in bed. When you’re asleep (within reason), you can only stay in bed for the time you’ve actually slept. Your doctor might recommend that you only stay in bed for seven hours if you sleep for only six to seven hours. That time will be even shorter if you are still struggling. Dr. Das says patients should slowly stretch themselves out again once they have consolidated sleep.
5. Insomnia during maintenance
Dr. Sassower says people with maintenance insomnia can fall asleep fine, but wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep again. He says the treatment varies, but tracing the cause of waking up at night and fixing it is often the first step. If you have sleep apnea, your own snoring might wake you up, or maybe it’s something else keeping you awake during the night. Dr. Sassower says treating this type of insomnia can be accomplished by learning to work around or with those hurdles.
As Dr. Winter adds, people with maintenance insomnia can also benefit from exercising more, spending less time in bed, and encouraging their partners to treat any sleep problems that persist.
6. Insomnia psychological
It’s obvious that sleep is important, so if you’re struggling to get enough sleep, that alone can make you stressed. As a result of anxiety about sleep, Dr. Winter says, people who do not get enough sleep experience psychophysiological insomnia.
Dr. Das notes that relaxation treatments are often helpful in treating this issue. If you choose to do guided imagery, you could envision yourself walking through the woods or floating on the ocean. “When you go to bed, you control your thoughts so that your daily worries are not on your mind.” she adds. Relaxing muscles throughout your body by tensing and then relaxing them at the same time is also beneficial.
The first thing you should do if you’re struggling with sleep is to consult your primary-care physician. Referrals to sleep medicine specialists may be appropriate if problems persist.
Discover how one editor got rid of her insomnia by sleep training now that you have knowledge of the different causes. In addition, find out more about how to avoid orthosomnia, a phenomenon that may affect you in the future.
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