Insomnia is a sleep-related disorder characterized by an inability to initiate or maintain sleep. It becomes a chronic condition if it happens at least 3 times per week for three months or longer. Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia.
Individuals with insomnia typically complain that their sleep is poor and unrefreshing and that they often suffer from drowsiness, lack of focus, lower energy, fatigue, impaired mental function, and moodiness. Common causes of insomnia include stress, anxiety, depression, and age-related changes such as menopause. Other contributing factors include excess alcohol or caffeine consumption, excessive napping in the day, noise, jet lag, certain medications, and pain from medical problems.
The diagnosis of insomnia is complex because of its potential association with other health issues such as obesity, diabetes, trauma, emotional disorders, heart and lung problems and hormonal imbalances. Therefore, to diagnosis insomnia it is necessary to rule out other potential conditions such as other sleep disorders, side effects of medications, substance abuse, depression, or other previously undetected illnesses. Chronic psychophysiological insomnia (or “learned” or “conditioned” insomnia) may result from a stressor combined with the fear of being unable to sleep. Individuals with this condition may sleep better when not in their own beds.
Treatment of insomnia is focused on alleviating any physical and emotional problems that may be contributing to the condition, and exploring changes in lifestyle, behavioral therapy and drug therapy.