What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder. Most adults, at some point in their life will experience a period of insomnia where they find it is difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or find they wake up earlier than is optimal.
A sleep disturbance can cause you to feel groggy or sleepy during the day. It can influence your ability to work effectively. It may even trigger moodiness or minor physical health symptoms.
While frustrating, short-term insomnia will usually resolve on its own.
However, insomnia can also become a long-term – or chronic – sleep issue. When insomnia symptoms are brought on by a traumatic event or if sleep problems are a co-occurrence with a mental health condition, insomnia may require treatment.
When Should I Seek Help If I’m Having Trouble Sleeping?
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep for more than a month, it’s probably time to speak to a professional about your sleep issues. Since insomnia is often a symptom of a larger issue, the sooner you address it, the sooner you’ll start to feel better.
If your partner mentions that you seem to stop breathing during periods of sleep, you may have sleep apnea. This is a serious medical condition that should be addressed by your primary care physician or a sleep disorder specialist. A medical sleep study may be in order to get a proper diagnosis.
If your sleep issues are in response to a stressful or traumatic event, you should seek care from a mental health provider. These professionals can assist you using different types of therapy or with short term use of a prescribed sleep medication.
What Are The Symptoms Of Insomnia?
Most adults need 7-8 hours of quality, restful sleep each evening, though the amount of sleep required can vary based on your individual needs. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms more than 3 nights a week, you may be dealing with a chronic sleep challenge:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Challenges staying asleep
- Waking and being unable to get back to sleep
- Rising earlier than you typically do
- Daytime sleepiness, feeling tired or groggy
- Struggles concentrating
- Moodiness or irritability
Insomnia itself is also a common symptom of other mental or physical health conditions. It’s important to consider your sleep patterns and sleep habits when you speak to your provider.
Can Mental Health Issues Contribute To Sleep Issues?
Sleep issues and mental health can turn into a “what came first?” issue. Struggling with getting enough sleep can cause anxiety and stress. On the other hand, anxiety and stress can cause sleep issues.
It can be hard to determine which issue came first if you’re having trouble getting the right amount of sleep to function well in your daily life.
Other mental health disorders like PTSD and OCD can also contribute to poor sleep. Nightmares or the attempt to compulsively avoid them can keep people up at night.
Substance use or some prescribed medications can affect your ability to get a good night’s rest.
What Are Some Of The Causes Of Sleep Challenges?
The Sleep Foundation estimates that over 35% of adults don’t reliably get enough sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to create a situation where you can struggle with sleep challenges. Our modern lifestyles aren’t the best for getting enough rest.
Common things that can keep you up at night:
- Interruptions to your normal sleep schedule. When our natural circadian rhythms are out of sync, it can be tough to get enough quality sleep. Jet lag and or shift work can upend your sleep.
- Electronic devices can contribute to sleep deprivation due to the blue light they emit – and for some people, the information received from social media via phones or tablets causes emotional upset and stress.
- Food or drink can keep you from drifting off. Caffeine, alcohol, or a heavy meal too close to bedtime.
- Physical pain or discomfort. Whether it is a new ache or a chronic condition, being uncomfortable can make it tough to sleep.
- In 40% of adolescents and adults, mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder can interrupt normal sleep patterns. Additionally, lack of sleep can cause underlying mood disorders to worsen.
What Are Typical Treatment Options For Mental Health Related Sleep Issues?
If you find yourself lying awake most nights, you may slip into a pattern of anxiety related to bedtime. Our mental health professionals can help you determine the cause of your sleeplessness and tailor a treatment plan to address your specific concerns.
At Elite DNA, we take a holistic approach to developing your treatment plan. We look at everything such as your current sleep hygiene habits, lifestyle, and what your body and mind are experiencing.
Our team can address each of these areas. Typically, a treatment plan will include therapy, psychiatric care and, as needed, medication. Some people might also benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Related Conditions to Explore
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderView Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive DisorderView Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Substance UseView Substance Use