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Insomnia (Difficulty Falling/Staying Asleep)

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings throughout the night, or problems with non-rem (NREM) and/or rem (rapid eye movement) stages of sleep that may cause you to feel tired upon waking. It is often difficult for those with insomnia to fall asleep (sleep onset insomnia), as well as to stay asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia) without feeling tired upon waking up in the morning. There are different types of insomnia, including:

  • Chronic insomnia is a sleep disorder marked by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep on most nights for at least three months. This disorder may be caused by another underlying health condition, mental illness, medication, or poor sleep habits/environment.
  • Short-term insomnia is characterized by short-term sleeping difficulties, generally of less than three weeks in duration. Transient insomnia is often brought on by life changes, stress, or jet lag.
  • Other insomnia refers to insomnia that does not meet the diagnostic criteria for chronic or short-term insomnia.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

Insomnia can cause the following symptoms:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty staying asleep
  • frequent waking up during the night
  • irritability
  • depression
  • concentration and memory problems
  • daytime tiredness/fatigue

Who is at risk for insomnia?

Insomnia can affect anyone, however there are certain risk factors that can make a diagnosis more likely. These risk factors include:

  • life stressors
  • chronic pain
  • anxiety and/or depression
  • unhealthy lifestyle & sleep habits
  • chronic illnesses
  • hormone fluctuations associated with menstruation, menopause, or thyroid disorders
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • medications
  • neurological disorders
  • other sleep disorders (sleep apnea & restless leg syndrome)

What is the relationship between insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Many people assume that insomnia and OSA are two different types of sleep disorders that occur independently of one another. Although they are two distinct types of sleep disorders, they are commonly associated with one another. In fact, the International Classification of Sleep Disorders lists OSA as being a differential diagnosis of insomnia. Some research notes that OSA can cause insomnia as a way of avoiding apnea episodes of non-breathing, while other research notes that insomnia can be the result of OSA waking a person multiple times per night. 

Treating Insomnia and OSA

In cases where insomnia is believed to be a result of OSA, treatment is centered around treating the cause of insomnia; OSA. 

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)-The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP uses gentle air pressure through a mask placed over your nose or mouth to keep your throat open while you sleep. The goal of this treatment is not just to alleviate symptoms but also to improve your quality of life.
  • Oral Appliances – Oral appliances may also be used to reposition the jaw and tongue in order to open up the airway and promote proper airflow.
  • Lifestyle Modifications – Lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight with diet and exercise, and avoiding sleeping pills or alcohol, can also help reduce symptoms associated with sleep apnea.
  • Positional sleep techniques – Sleeping on your side instead of sleeping on your back.
  • Nerve Stimulators – Implanted hypoglossal nerve stimulator
  • Surgical Procedures 

Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Contact Doctor Dreamweaver today for your home sleep apnea test so you can sleep well and be well. 

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