Allina Health Mental Health

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Insomnia

If you have insomnia, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early in the morning. This leaves you feeling unrefreshed in the morning and tired, irritated and drained of energy the next day.

Insomnia happens to everyone once in a while. Insomnia that occurs most nights for at least 1 month often needs treatment.

Insomnia occurs in men and women. You may be at a higher risk for insomnia if you:

  • are older (especially older than age 60)
  • are a woman (especially after menopause)
  • have a history of depression or anxiety
  • are under a lot of stress
  • have other medical problems

Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • problems falling asleep
  • waking up during the night without going back to sleep
  • waking up too early in the morning
  • feeling unrefreshed in the morning

There are some conditions which, when combined with age, gender and history of depression, can make insomnia more likely. These include stress, anxiety, a medical problem and some medicines.

Some causes of insomnia are:

  • napping too much during the day or evening
  • stress and worry

Your health care provider will diagnose insomnia by taking your medical and sleep histories. You may be asked to keep a sleep diary or talk with your partner about your night's sleep.

If your health care provider suspects another type of sleep disorder (such as sleep apnea), you may need to take other tests.

If your insomnia lasts only a few days, you can make lifestyle changes.

If your insomnia is chronic (long-lasting), you may want to consider behavioral changes such as improving sleep habits, treatment with a highly effective therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or temporarily use short-acting sleeping pills. Your health care provider can talk with you about the side effects of medicines. Over-the-counter sleep medicine does not usually work long-term in treating insomnia

Reviewed By: Dr. Michael Schmitz, PsyD, LP, CBSM, Abbott Northwestern Hospital; Andrew Stiehm, MD, Allina Health clinics
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 03/22/2016