“Over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and wakefulness with 2 million of those being children. An estimated 10 million Americans remain undiagnosed.”
Many people associate insomnia with sleep disorders. Simply put, insomnia is the perception of insufficient, disturbed or non-restorative sleep. Insomnia typically involves difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Doctors at the Alabama Sleep Clinic can help determine why you're suffering from insomnia and help you find an effective treatment.
How can the Alabama Sleep Clinic help?
The Alabama Sleep Clinic provides the most comprehensive and effective treatments of any sleep clinic in north Alabama and southern Tennessee. Our doctors have the experience to determine the cause of your insomnia and to recommend solutions.
Why is insomnia such an important issue?
Insomnia can diminish your quality of life by impairing concentration and memory, interfering with your ability to enjoy family and social relationships, and contributing to sleepiness and fatigue when you're awake. One of the most serious risks of insomnia is the increased chance of motor vehicle and work related accidents due to daytime fatigue.
What do most people do when they experience insomnia?
Unfortunately, most people never discuss insomnia with a doctor. Many people simply take OTC (over the counter) sleeping pills, drink alcohol or use prescription sleep aids without ever trying to identify the root cause of their insomnia.
What causes insomnia?
There are many potential causes of insomnia and often individuals have more than one factor contributing to their difficulty sleeping. Sometimes, chemical imbalances in the brain contribute to insomnia. Sometimes, stress can play a role. Certain medications, medical conditions and psychiatric illnesses can lead to insomnia. In addition, other sleep disorders can also contribute to insomnia.
What are some of the medical and psychiatric causes of insomnia?
Depression and anxiety are frequently associated with insomnia. Schizophrenia, certain personality disorders and other psychiatric illnesses may be associated with insomnia. If difficulty sleeping seems to fluctuate in relation to a mental illness, then treating the psychiatric disorder should help improve insomnia symptoms. Some patients need a psychiatric consultation.
Some medical conditions that can cause insomnia include hyperthyroidism, arthritic conditions, kidney disease, lung disease, liver disease, heart failure, acid reflux and some neurological disorders. If you suffer from insomnia, talk to your family doctor about ordering some tests to see if you have any medical conditions that may be contributing to your insomnia.
What are some of the primary sleep disorders that may have insomnia as a major symptom?
Inadequate Sleep Hygiene: This kind of insomnia is the result of poor sleep habits. For more information and treatment recommendations, read about how you can Improve Sleep Habits.
Psychophysiologic Insomnia: This is a condition in which you learn or become “conditioned” not to sleep well. Often, you dread bedtime and may even sleep better in places other than your own bedroom. People who suffer from this type of insomnia may describe that they become sleepy in the living room, but when in bed become wide awake (essentially because the brain has become conditioned to arouse in the bedroom). To review the most common treatment, download the Stimulus Control Therapy form.
Sleep State Misperception: This means that you sleep longer than you think.
Circadian Rhythm Disorders:These disorders involve desynchronization between the brain’s internal sleep/wake schedule and the “normal” sleep/wake schedule. In other words, you have a normal sleep cycle at an abnormal time. A common circadian rhythm disorder is “jet lag”. Another is delayed sleep phase syndrome, more often seen in teenagers and young adults, in whom the sleep phase is delayed. For example, a person may sleep from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. This makes it very difficult to fall asleep at a normal hour and wake up in the morning. In the elderly, the opposite sometimes occurs, leading to an early bedtime and early awakening, such as falling asleep at 8:00 pm and waking up at 4:00 am. Circadian rhythm disorders are often treated with “light therapy” and require close attention to maintaining a routine sleep schedule.
What should I do if I have insomnia?
First, discuss the problem with your doctor. Also try to improve your sleep habits. It's quite possible that you may have more than one bad habit that you should correct. For instance, if you stop drinking caffeine in the early afternoon, but still smoke close to bedtime or worry about things in bed, you will probably continue to have insomnia.
Tracking your progress with a sleep diary may help you see the results you achieve through changing your habits. Download the Sleep Log form to help you track your sleep-wake schedule.
If I've tried to improve my sleep but still have problems what should I do?
See your doctor or make an appointment with the Alabama Sleep Clinic. Try to keep a sleep log for a few weeks before you go in for an appointment. A sleep log can really help your doctor diagnose your problem.
What can I expect from an evaluation with a sleep specialist?
Don't expect to get a prescription sleep aid on your first visit, especially if your insomnia is chronic. While your doctor may prescribe a sleep aid, your doctor will likely first try to identify and treat the root cause of your insomnia and only consider a sleep aid after other treatments have failed.
For additional information about insomnia, visit the American Insomnia Association.