Once in a while, most people have a hard time sleeping. Often, it’s because of a life event: worry about a current situation; excitement for an upcoming event; or being in an unfamiliar place. Sometimes it’s due to another condition, for example pain or depression. But when these troubles are frequent and persist in the absence of a contributing event or condition, it may be insomnia. About one third of adults report symptoms of insomnia with 10 to 15 percent experiencing daytime impairments. Six to 10 percent have symptoms that qualify for a diagnosis of insomnia disorder.
Increased irritability, daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, poor concentration and feeling depressed can all be caused by insomnia and can significantly affect in individual’s quality of life and ability to function. Long term, insomnia may lead to an increased risk of major depressive disorder, hypertension and even heart attack.
Insomnia is a treatable medical condition. Common treatments include relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy (a specific type of talk therapy); stimulus control therapy / learning good “sleep hygiene” as well as different types of medication including over the counter and prescription medications. All medications have side effects and some can carry risk of dependence. It’s often helpful to speak with a health care provider to discuss what kinds of treatment options may be best for you.