What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a symptom that most people have experienced from time to time. In 6-10 percent of adults, it occurs frequently enough to be considered a disorder. Insomnia may result in daytime sleepiness, as well as physical, psychological, and behavioral problems. Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep and/or maintaining sleep on a regular basis. The causes for insomnia are multiple and may be related to underlying sleep disorders, psychological problems, or medical diseases. Insomnia is more common in people who are under stress or who have depressed or anxious moods.

Children also may suffer from insomnia and exhibit associated symptoms of memory, attention, and mood changes. Increased activity in arousal systems of the brain are noted in insomniacs and suggest targets for therapy. As new pharmaceutical agents and behavioral approaches to treat insomnia are developed, our understanding of the biology of insomnia increases.

What Can Cause Insomnia?

The diagnosis of insomnia is often referred to as psychophysiological insomnia. This implies two distinct categories of dysfunction that, alone or in combination, may lead to insomnia.

Psychological Causes

The first category is psychological causes. Typically this includes psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and many others. Psychological causes also include self-defeating behaviors that may reinforce poor sleep habits and intensify and prolong insomnia. Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe the good and bad habits associated with insomnia. Proper sleep hygiene is essential to successful insomnia therapy, regardless of its underlying causes.

Physiological Causes

The second category of underlying problems that lead to insomnia is physiological causes. This is a broad category that includes medical diseases which result in pain or other physical disruptions of sleep. Other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and recurrent parasomnias may also give rise to physiological insomnia. Research shows us that an overly active brain may contribute to insomnia. Individuals who experience recurrent insomnia require a detailed sleep and medical history. Examination and further diagnostic testing may also be informative in tailoring a therapeutic approach.

Signs & Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Sleeplessness on a regular basis
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Sense of depression or anxiety
  • Changes in memory, attention and mood

Diagnosis of Insomnia

Insomnia is diagnosed by the clinical history and is often straightforward; however, diagnosing a cause for insomnia requires a multifaceted approach which may include medical, neurological, and psychological expertise. Laboratory and in-home testing may be helpful in some cases.

Treatment of Insomnia

Therapy for insomnia begins after the causes for it are understood. Every individual requires a tailored therapeutic approach that may include psychological, medical, and behavioral tools. At FusionSleep, we work with local psychiatrists and psychologists to provide cognitive behavioral therapies, as well as with multiple pharmaceutical companies to provide the latest in medical therapies. Of course, treatment for other sleep disorders that result in insomnia is always available at our Center.