Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Insomnia

Insomnia

Types of Insomnia

There are three categories of insomnia. Adjustment insomnia is usually brought on by excitement or stress, and lasts no longer than four weeks. Any trouble falling or staying asleep that lasts between four weeks and six months is known as short-term insomnia. This too is usually brought on by a stressful situation, and once the problem subsides or the sleeper adjusts to it, the insomnia will disappear. Any thing lasting longer than six months is known as chronic insomnia. More than 20 million people in the US complain of having chronic insomnia, however research has shown that physical ailments and other sleeping disorders are often mistaken for this type of insomnia.

Causes of Insomnia

Some people are more vulnerable to insomnia than others, just as some of us are prone to headaches or any other sickness. Persistent stress, whether it be relationship problems or trouble at work, can also cause insomnia. Many lifestyle decision may contribute as well, such as the misuse of stimulants (caffeine and tobacco), alcohol, or sleeping pills, keeping erratic bedtime hours, and inactive behavior. Often, there are underlying physical or psychiatric problems that are the cause, such as a breathing disorder (Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea), or depression. These condition require special medical attention and cannot be treated with common insomnia treatments.

Behavioral Treatments

  • Sleep Restriction: Allow less time between bedtime and rise time. Excess time in bed spreads your sleep out over a longer period of time, which may lead to more fragmented sleep and more frustration
  • Stimulus Control: To improve the chances of falling asleep quickly, remove all non-sleeping activities (TV, computer, reading, work) from the bedroom Also, don't try to go to sleep until you feel drowsy. If you can't fall asleep in 20 minutes, or if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and go to another room Don't return to the bedroom until you are sleepy. Also, maintain a regular wake time, even on weekends and days off, and avoid napping during the day.
  • Relaxation: Do some sort of activity that requires the same method (reading, bathing, etc) that ends in a feeling of calmness.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Use methods of reasoning to pinpoint inaccurate ideas or thoughts about sleep and its results. This will help to alleviate daytime stress about it and bedtime wakefulness will decrease as well.

Insomnia is defined by a repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep and results in some form of daytime impairment.

If you have any symptoms or would like more information about sleep disorders call us at 713-441-3961 or e-mail us at sleep@houstonmethodist.org

Print version:
Insomnia