What is insomnia?Insomnia is a problem with sleep. People with insomnia have trouble falling or staying asleep, or they do not feel rested when they wake up. Insomnia is not about the number of hours of sleep a person gets. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?People with insomnia often:
- Have trouble falling or staying asleep
- Feel tired or sleepy during the day
- Forget things or have trouble thinking clearly
- Get cranky, anxious, irritable, or depressed
- Have less energy or interest in doing things
- Make mistakes or get into accidents more often than normal
- Worry about their lack of sleep
Are there tests I should have?Probably not. Most people with insomnia need no tests. Your doctor or nurse will probably be able to tell what is wrong just by talking to you. He or she might also ask you to keep a daily log for 1 to 2 weeks, where you keep track of how you sleep each night. In some cases, people do need special sleep tests, such as “polysomnography” or “actigraphy.”
- Polysomnography : is a test that usually lasts all night and that is done in a sleep lab. During the test, monitors are attached to your body to record movement, brain activity, breathing, and other body functions.
- Actigraphy : is a device that records activity and movement with a monitor or motion detector that is usually worn on the wrist. The test is done at home, over several days and nights. It will record how much you sleep and when.
What can I do to improve my insomnia?You can follow good “sleep hygiene.” That means that you:
- Sleep only long enough to feel rested and then get out of bed
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
- Do not try to force yourself to sleep. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and try again later.
- Have coffee, tea, and other foods that have caffeine only in the morning
- Avoid alcohol in the late afternoon, evening, and bedtime
- Avoid smoking, especially in the evening
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet, and free of reminders of work or other things that cause you stress
- Solve problems you have before you go to bed
- Exercise several days a week, but not right before bed
- Avoid looking at phones or reading devices (“e-books”) that give off light before bed. This can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Relaxation therapy, in which you focus on relaxing all the muscles in your body 1 by 1
- Working with a counselor or psychologist to deal with the problems that might be causing poor sleep