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What is insomnia?

If you have difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep or wake up too early in the morning, you may be one of the 10 percent of adults who suffer from insomnia. This common sleep disorder can be divided into two types:

  • Acute insomnia occurs for only a brief period and is most often associated with a specific event or situation (such as preparing for a big exam, traveling or hearing stressful news). This type of insomnia normally resolves on its own without treatment.
  • Chronic insomnia is the term used when you experience insomnia at least three nights a week for at least three months.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

Chronic insomnia can be a serious issue. If you are routinely getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night despite spending enough time in bed and rarely wake feeling rested, it can take a significant toll on your health, mood, productivity and overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic insomnia may include:

  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Depression, anxiety, irritability or other mood disturbances
  • Worsening of chronic pain
  • Trouble concentrating, problems with learning and memory
  • Impaired decision making/slower reaction time resulting in increased errors or accidents
  • Increased insulin resistance/worsening diabetes

What causes insomnia?

There are many potential causes for insomnia, and sleep issues are frequently the result of some combination of causes, including:

  • Having a genetic predisposition for insomnia
  • Other medical conditions -- such as chronic pain -- or sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome
  • Stress or a big life change (such as giving birth or death of a spouse) 
  • Menopause
  • Use of stimulants 
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Change of environment or schedule

How is insomnia treated?

While there is no definitive cure for insomnia, at Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center, we offer two effective courses of treatment:

  • Medication: There are a variety of sleep medications we can prescribe to help manage your insomnia. These are normally recommended for short-term use only and are used in conjunction with behavioral therapy.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): We offer resources and special expertise for people who are interested in using CBT to treat insomnia. The process involves a series of counseling sessions during which patients learn a variety of techniques for improving their sleep.
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