It feels very lonely to suffer with insomnia. Laying there awaken when everyone is fast asleep. But actually, if you have insomnia, you’re in very good company. It affects around 1 in 3 of us at any given time. Most of us will be faced with an insomnia episode at some point in our lives. The extent of the problem is huge so you’re far from alone.
This article lists the common symptoms of insomnia. It’ll help you identify what type of insomnia you have and help clear up any misconceptions about what is and what isn’t insomnia.
The Symptoms of Insomnia
Insomnia is very loosely described as having difficulty sleeping. It has four main symptoms.
- Difficulty falling asleep.
- Problems falling back to sleep if you wake up in the night
- Waking up early in the morning and not being able to fall back to sleep
- Feeling unrefreshed by sleep no matter how long you’ve slept for
Insomnia often results in sleep deprivation. Signs that you might be sleep deprived include:
- Irritable mood
- Unable to concentrate for long periods of time
- Finding tasks much more difficult, even small daily tasks
- Feeling as though you could nod off and fall asleep during the day
Identifying your Insomnia
Insomnia is a multifaceted condition. It has a range of causes and a range of different treatments for each cause. Identifying what sort of insomnia is important to ensure you get the right treatment.
The type of insomnia is defined by the length of time you’ve had it for. They include:
- Transient insomnia – Lasting only a few days, up to a week
- Acute insomnia – Lasting several weeks and could last for a month or two
- Chronic insomnia – Long term insomnia that can last for months, years, or even decades
The pattern of insomnia is where in the night you suffer from insomnia. Either at the start of the night, the middle, or the end.
- Onset Insomnia – Difficulty falling asleep when you first go to bed
- Sleep Maintenance Insomnia – Keep waking up at multiple times during the night
- Terminal Insomnia – Wake up early in the morning and can’t fall back to sleep
You can combine the type and pattern to give your insomnia a name, such as chronic sleep maintenance insomnia. Each type and pattern is treated as separate conditions within the insomnia bracket. By identifying your insomnia can help narrow down the potential cause and discover which cause of a treatment would be most suitable.
Misconceptions about Insomnia
There’s a whole load of myths and half truths about insomnia floating around. Listening to advice from well meaning people can create an inaccurate and very unhelpful picture of insomnia. Here’s the truth behind the most common misperceptions about insomnia.
I can’t get 8 hours sleep per night so something must be wrong
Different people need different amounts of sleep. If you less than 8 hours but don’t suffer from any of the symptoms of sleep deprivation and don’t have any problems going to sleep or staying asleep, there’s unlikely to be any problems.
Everyone has difficulty with sleep so you should just put up with it
Around of third of us suffer with insomnia. But this is entirely preventable. Just because other people suffer with a condition doesn’t mean that you have to. You can’t reach your full potential if you’re constantly feeling sleep deprived. By identifying the cause and getting the right treatment, you can break free from insomnia for good.
Sometimes I wake up in the night. Does this mean I have insomnia?
Not unless you have problems falling back to sleep again. We experience waves of light sleep and deep sleep throughout the night. It’s completely normal to wake up after light sleep. Most people don’t even remember waking up because they fall back to sleep again. Just like most of us don’t remember having dreams.
I haven’t been able to sleep for decades. I’m untreatable.
I used to think like that. I had chronic onset insomnia as a child right up to my late teens. It would take me around 3 hours to fall asleep, sometimes longer. Now I fall asleep in around 5 to 10 minutes. That’s just by improving my sleep hygiene, learning a few relaxation techniques to stop mind chatter, sleeping on a comfortable mattress and keeping to a good sleep schedule. If I could do it, so can you, no matter how bad your insomnia is or how long you’ve had it for.
The only way to overcome insomnia is by using powerful sleeping pills
Sleeping pills are only recommended for certain cases of short term insomnia. They won’t help at all with long term insomnia. They only mask the symptoms of insomnia without tackling the root cause. They can also have very nasty side effects, particularly if you take them in high enough doses for long periods of time. Sleeping pills are a very small part of a huge range of treatments of insomnia that are available.