Insomnia is a sleep problem that affects 10-30% of people. Insomnia is described by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 3rd edition, as persistent difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation, or quality.
Insomnia can strike despite sufficient time allotted for sleep and a favorable sleeping environment. It is also accompanied by excessive daytime drowsiness and other issues caused by lack of sleep.
Many people struggle to sleep, but to acquire a formal insomnia diagnosis, they must fulfill specific criteria. The diagnostic procedure may include various tests and appointments.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
Insomnia symptoms may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up early
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Tiredness or sleepiness during the day
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- Problems with focusing on tasks or remembering
- Making more errors or accidents
- Worrying about sleep
When to see a doctor
If you find yourself having trouble functioning during the day due to your insomnia, see your doctor to find out why your sleep problem exists and how it may be treated. If your physician thinks you have a sleep issue, you might be referred to a sleep center for specialized testing.
If you’re having difficulties sleeping, it’s likely that your primary care doctor will ask about them. Make sure you prepare anything ahead of time, such as keeping a sleep diary. If feasible, bring your bedmate with you. Your doctor may wish to speak with your spouse to learn how much and well you are sleeping.
Here is what you can do before the visit:
Any symptoms you’re experiencing, such as how often you have trouble sleeping and when insomnia began. Also, include any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment. According to Mayoclinic.org, you should prepare answers to the following questions:
- How long does it take you to fall asleep?
- Do you snore or wake up choking for breath?
- How often do you awaken at night, and how long does it take to fall back to sleep?
- What is your response when you can’t sleep?
- What have you tried to improve your sleep?
Basic medical information
All sorts of personal information, such as newly acquired or developing health issues, significant stresses, or recent lifestyle changes. All medicines you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs and vitamins, as well as herbal and other supplements in dosages. Tell your doctor about any medicines you’ve taken to help you sleep.
Your doctor may ask you several questions, such as those below.
- Do you feel refreshed when you wake up, or are you tired during the day?
- Do you doze off or have trouble staying awake while sitting quietly or driving?
- Do you nap during the day?
- What do you typically eat and drink in the evening?
- What is your bedtime routine?
- Do you currently take any medications or sleeping pills before bed?
- What time do you go to bed and wake up? Is this different on weekends?
- How many hours a night do you sleep?
- Have you experienced any stressful events recently?
- Do you use tobacco or drink alcohol?
- Do you have any family members with sleep problems?
- What medications do you take regularly?
How is insomnia diagnosed?
Depending on your situation, the diagnosis of insomnia and the search for its cause may include:
Suppose you can’t identify the reason for your sleeplessness. In that case, your doctor may perform a physical examination to look for signs of medical issues that might be connected to insomnia. The doctor can order a blood test may occasionally to check for thyroid problems or other illnesses linked with poor sleep.
Sleep habits review
Your doctor may have you complete a questionnaire to assess your sleep-wake pattern and degree of daytime drowsiness, in addition to asking you questions about sleep. You could be requested to keep a sleep log for a few weeks in addition.
If the source of your sleeplessness is unclear, or if you have any symptoms of another sleep issue, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, you may be referred to a sleep center for a night. Several physiological processes are tracked and recorded during your slumber, including brain waves, breathing rate, heart rate, eye movements, and body movements.
Risk Factors for Insomnia
People are more susceptible to insomnia symptoms owing to certain risk factors, such as:
Age: Adult insomnia can manifest itself in various ways, including sleeplessness, difficulty falling asleep, and waking up too early. Although any age may develop insomnia symptoms, your risk for sleeplessness – and other sleep issues – rises as you get older.
Sex: In women, insomnia is more common. Pregnancy-related hormonal fluctuations can lead to sleeping difficulties in some women.
Family history: Insomnia symptoms are often hereditary, as is your propensity to be a “light” or “heavy” sleeper.
Bedroom environment: To encourage sound sleep, your bedroom should be as quiet as possible while still being light-free and a little lower than normal temperature.
Occupation: If you work shifts that begin late at night or early in the morning, you may be more likely to experience sleep problems. Frequent travel across different time zones can also cause jet lag.
Sleep routines: Too much napping during the day can cause you to feel exhausted at night, leading to sleep deprivation. Each day, make sure you follow a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
Lifestyle: Sleep issues can also develop if you don’t get enough exercise during the day. Caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs can impact how well and long you sleep each night.
Stress: Sleep problems caused by emotional or physical stress, difficulties in school or at work, marital strain, and the death of a loved one are all examples of external factors that can interrupt sleep onset, duration, and quality.
Medical Conditions: Insomnia can be caused by underlying medical conditions such as breathing difficulties or sleep apnea.
In conclusion, insomnia can be a complicated condition to diagnose and treat. The primary challenges faced by the medical community are identifying the cause of sleep disturbances and what treatment methods have been shown to work best for each individual involved. The primary causes of insomnia include stress, illness, lack of exercise, hormones, or medications that disrupt sleep.
You may need a physician referral for a night study at a sleep center. In these types of studies, the individual is monitored. At the same time, they sleep using several different tools such as electroencephalogram (EEG) devices which measure brain waves, and polysomnography monitors, which measure brain waves and bodily functions during sleep.