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How To Tell If You’re An Insomniac

Insomnia is trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night.

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep difficulties reported in the United States today, as it’s currently estimated that up to 30% of Americans have been diagnosed with some form of the disorder,1 which is characterized by a problem falling and/orstaying asleep.

Some of the tell-tale signs of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night and having trouble going back to sleep, waking up too early in the morning and feeling tired upon waking.

There are two particular known types of the disorder: primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is a condition that affects people who do not otherwise suffer from any other medical problems. Secondary insomnia is a condition, by contrast, that affects people who do suffer from other ailments, the complications from which cause a person to lose sleep at night. People who’ve been diagnosed with asthma, heart problems, depression, anxiety, or arthritis pain frequently suffer from the secondary category.

An important variable related to insomnia is the amount of time that one can suffer from it. Insomnia is either considered “acute” [short-term] or “chronic” [long-term]. Acute insomnia can last anywhere from just one night up to a few weeks, whereas the chronic variety can, in certain cases, last for several months or even years, occurring some three times a week or more2.

  • Stress: Whether it’s created by your job, schoolwork, or love life, stress can cause anxiety which often keeps you awake at night.
  • Health Conditions: Diagnoses such as depression, asthma, heart problems, restless leg syndrome, cancer, and arthritis pain can all contribute to trouble sleeping.
  • Disturbing Environment: Attempting to rest in a room that’s too noisy, too hot or cold, or that has too much light can affect your sleep.
  • Medications: Those drugs that are prescribed for colds, allergies, high blood pressure, or in the treatment of depression can contribute to sleep loss.
  • Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol: Drinks containing caffeine are well-known stimulants, and consuming coffee, for example, in the late afternoon can keep you from falling asleep at night. The nicotine found in tobacco products is another stimulant which can cause insomnia; and though the sedative effects of alcohol may help you fall asleep, drinking it will prevent deeper stages of sleep and often cause you to awaken in the middle of the night3.
  • Eating Habits: Either ingesting a big meal just before going to bed or eating something that causes your stomach to become unsettled can keep you up at night. Eating too much can cause you to feel uncomfortable in when you lay down, and eating something spicy can cause you to lie awake suffering from indigestion and heartburn.
  • Owning an Uncomfortable Mattress: A worn-out or otherwise uncomfortable mattress can easily keep you awake at night. Those manufactured of spring coils, water beds, and air mattresses can all create both pressure on and stiffness throughout the body. The best remedy is a simple switch to a memory foam mattress, which will increase blood flow and thus create improved circulation… not to mention its unique ability to alleviate pressure by conforming to your unique shape.

If you believe you may have insomnia and would like to find out for certain, the most practical course of action is to seek the opinion of a professional health care provider. An accurate diagnosis of insomnia can typically be detected by a standard physical examination, accompanied by your documented history of medical and sleep problems. In certain instances, the medical examiner may ask to interview your sleep partner, or request that you keep a journal in order to document your sleep habits. Advanced cases may also be referred to professionals who will perform more detailed tests at a sleep center.

Although insomnia is a serious sleep disorder that affects a tremendous number of people every night, you may “rest assured” that it can be both treated and cured– quite often by simply monitoring bedtime habits and making the necessary adjustments. If modest changes to your nightly ritual, etc. do not have the desired effect, however, don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your doctor, who can discuss appropriate alternatives [ranging from a temporary sleep medication prescription to referral to a behavioral therapist] for lasting relief.

1. Vogin, Gary D. M.D.To Sleep, Perchance to Dream: All about Insomnia. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50772. Last reviewed, January 30, 2005. 1996-2005. Retrieved on June 8, 2009.

2. WebMD. What is Insomnia?http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/insomnia. Retrieved on June 8, 2009.

3. MayoClinic.com. Insomniahttp://www.mayoclinic.com/health/insomnia/DS00187. Retrieved on June 8, 2009.

28 Comments Post a comment
  1. DH could surely benefit by this which ultimately will make my life a lot easier.

    April 17, 2012
  2. i read this and i do believe i have some sort of imsomnia. i have trouble falling asleep alot, and i feel tired in the morning 😦

    April 17, 2012
  3. It is starting to get really hot here in Arizona. I do not want to run the air conditioner yet and I seem to go into a “it’s hot” panic and can not get to sleep.I go from room to room or put a fan in front of me which does not see to help.

    April 17, 2012
  4. I think my husband is one. He never goes to sleep. He may fall asleep at midnight, only to wake up a few short hrs. later.

    April 17, 2012
  5. stress always make for a hard night of sleep and hard to forget

    April 17, 2012
  6. i believe stress and an uncomfortable mattress are my top two reasons.. i desperately need a new mattress.. SOON!

    April 17, 2012
  7. Insomnia is bad.

    April 17, 2012
  8. I used to suffer terribly from Insomnia – I could never switch off and would lay awake for hours and hours. Just the fact I couldn’t sleep would stress me out even further and make matters worse, it was a vicious circle. I think depression must have been a primary cause because since I have met my partner and settled down and am in a ‘happy place’ I sleep pretty well (even if its in a separate bed to my husband because he snores SO loudly!) 🙂

    April 17, 2012
  9. This article very informative. I have to say after reading this that I am an insomniac. It is ruining my life.

    April 17, 2012
  10. the eyes tell who doesnt sleep

    April 17, 2012
  11. Bed in a box mattress definitely is helping me sleep well each night. Now only if i could get a matching pillow…

    April 17, 2012
  12. I always toss and turn at night, I am looking into getting a memory foam mattress. I can’t wwait to wake up in the mornings pain free 🙂

    April 17, 2012
  13. Looks like i need to seek medical advice

    April 17, 2012
  14. i actually thought there was really no help or cure for me.. glad i read this!

    April 17, 2012
  15. I have cut out caffeine after 6 p.m, and also stopped getting on my laptop or cell phone when I’m in bed.,this helps a lot!

    April 17, 2012
  16. a good pillow would help with getting restful sleep!

    April 17, 2012
  17. This would be a good pillow for my hubby. He needs a sleep study he is a weird sleeper stops breathing snores and has rls

    April 17, 2012
  18. I can only sleep for 4 hours than I wake up. Not sure if it’s the pillow or the bed

    April 17, 2012
  19. I have a HORRIBLE time getting to sleep!

    April 17, 2012
  20. i have trouble falling asleep alot, and i feel tired in the morning, This would be a good pillow for me

    April 17, 2012
  21. Thanks for the helpful info!

    April 17, 2012
  22. Fortunately, I do not suffer from insomnia but if you do, memory foam is the way to go…best sleep ever!

    April 17, 2012
  23. I drink way too much caffeine!

    April 18, 2012
  24. Thank you for sharing another great article!

    April 18, 2012
  25. I guess it’s time for a doctor visit because some of those symptoms you have described sound way too familiar.

    April 18, 2012
  26. Very informative. Great tips on how to avoid insomnia. I can see some of my bad habits listed above as far as food and drink go.

    April 18, 2012
  27. I have had insomnia for years now and I design just proscribe more medication. Some of the things listed have helped at some time or another. Thank you

    April 18, 2012

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