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You’ve probably had nights when you couldn’t fall asleep, no matter how desperately you tried.
When you can't sleep, the ticking of the clock only reminds you of your exhaustion and the endless hours until morning. And perhaps you finally drop off around dawn, only to be jarred awake by the alarm an hour later.
Insomnia, the term for having trouble sleeping at night, is one of the most common sleep complaints. About 1 in 3 adults has bouts of insomnia that last a few days at a time. This is acute insomnia. But 1 in 10 adults suffers ongoing difficulty sleeping, known as chronic insomnia. There are many different definitions for chronic insomnia, but a commonly accepted one is insomnia that occurs more than 3 nights a week for at least 3 months.
Insomnia affects people in different ways. If you suffer from it, you may not be able to go to sleep or you may not be able to stay asleep. You might constantly wake up earlier than you would like, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning, and find yourself unable to go back to sleep.
Women are more likely to have insomnia than men. It is also more common among shift workers, who don't have consistent sleep schedules; people with low incomes; people who have a history of depression; and those who don't get much physical activity.
Insomnia has many possible causes. The reasons you're lying awake when you don't want to be are individual. They can include any or all of these:
These are common symptoms of insomnia:
You may need to see a sleep medicine specialist to find out what's causing your insomnia. It will be helpful to bring a record of your sleep patterns.
The process of making a diagnosis may include:
You have many options for treatment:
The exact course will depend on what your doctor identifies as the possible causes of your insomnia.
Insomnia can have serious complications. Poor sleep quality is linked to:
Insomnia, the term for having trouble sleeping at night, is one of the most common sleep complaints. About 1 in 3 adults has bouts of insomnia that last a few days at a time. Women are more likely to have insomnia than men.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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