Everyone experiences difficulty sleeping at some point in life. Chronic insomnia— frequent difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep—can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform daily routine tasks.
Getting enough sleep each night is vital to one’s overall health and well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 22% of Americans experience insomnia almost every night.
Signs and Symptoms
Although they vary from person to person, common signs and symptoms of insomnia include the following:
Insomnia becomes more common with age. The various factors that may contribute to or exacerbate insomnia are classified as psychological, physical, and environmental. Following are some common factors among individuals who experience insomnia:
Tests and Diagnosis
Because insomnia can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform daily routine tasks, sleep-deprived individuals who experience frequent or chronic episodes of insomnia should consult their doctor.
Your doctor will ask you about your sleep habits and medical and medication history. He or she may also order blood tests to check for certain medical conditions that may cause insomnia and possibly order a sleep study to rule out sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
Treatment and Care
Treatment for insomnia depends on the cause, so the initial step is to determine the cause, which may be a medical condition or a medication you are taking. Other strategies may include changing your sleep habits, practicing relaxation techniques, and using prescription and nonprescription medications. Your doctor will determine the best treatment for you.
Homeopathic and Alternative Remedies
Many patients who experience insomnia rely on alternative forms of treatment, including herbal remedies and homeopathic medicine. Alternative remedies may include the following:
Patients should always check with a pharmacist or physician before taking any supplements, including herbal and homeopathic remedies, to prevent potentially harmful interactions or contraindications.
Nonprescription drugs marketed for insomnia are indicated for the treatment of transient and short-term sleep disorders in individuals who occasionally have sleep problems. The available formulations include single-entity antihistamine products containing diphenhydramine or doxylamine. To prevent drug interactions or contraindications, it may be helpful to consult with a pharmacist before using any sleep aid.
Resources for Patients
Resources for Health Care Professionals