Do you often wake up feeling unrested and groggy? You may be suffering from a common sleep disorder called sleeplessness, also known as insomnia.
With insomnia, you can have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may wake up too early and find it difficult getting back to sleep. If left untreated, insomnia can lower your energy level and mood, and it can also affect your health and quality of life. Insomnia is not the same as sleep deprivation; it’s the inability to sleep despite the opportunity to sleep. Insomnia is more often a symptom than a disease. And it’s the most common sleep complaint among patients.
Signs of insomnia can include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
There are two common types of insomnia, short-term and long-term. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, short-term insomnia is linked to stress or changes in your schedule or environment. It can last for a few days or weeks. Long-term or chronic insomnia occurs three or more nights a week and lasts more than three months. It can be linked to a health issue or poor sleep habits. Chronic insomnia, if left untreated, raises your risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, obesity, diabetes and/or cancer.
Some common causes of insomnia are:
- Acid reflux
- Urinary issues
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Mental health disorders
- Physical illness and chronic pain
Insomnia is experienced by all adults either acutely or chronically at some point. Poor sleep habits are a common perpetuator of insomnia. If you make better sleep choices nightly, you can avoid acute insomnia before it becomes a chronic problem.
If you have experienced some of these symptoms or think you may have insomnia, talk to your primary care physician and schedule an evaluation with a sleep medicine specialist.
Dr. Adil Degani is a pulmonary specialist at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center.