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Insomnia (cont.)

Insomnia Symptoms

Doctors associate a variety of signs and symptoms with insomnia. Often, these symptoms complicate other medical or mental conditions.

  • Some people with insomnia may complain of difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night. The problem may begin with stress. Then, as you begin to associate the bed with your inability to sleep, the problem may become chronic.
  • Most often daytime symptoms will bring people to seek medical attention. Daytime problems caused by insomnia include the following:
    • Poor concentration and focus
    • Difficulty with memory
    • Impaired motor coordination (being uncoordinated)
    • Irritability and impaired social interaction
    • Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers
  • People may worsen these daytime symptoms by their own attempts to treat the symptoms.
    • Alcohol and antihistamines may compound the problems with sleep deprivation.
    • Others have tried nonprescription sleep aids.

Many people with insomnia do not complain of daytime sleepiness, and in fact, they may have difficulty falling asleep during intentional daytime naps.

Primary Sleep Disorders

In addition to the causes and conditions listed above, there are also a number of conditions that are associated with insomnia in the absence of another underlying condition. These are called primary sleep disorders, in which the sleep disorder is the main cause of insomnia. These conditions generally cause chronic or long-term insomnia. Some of the diseases are listed below:

  • Idiopathic insomnia (unknown cause) or childhood insomnia, which start early on in life and results in lifelong sleep problems. This may run in families.
  • Central sleep apnea. This is a complex disorder. It can be the primary cause of the insomnia itself or it may be caused by other conditions, such as brain injury, heart failure, high altitude, and low oxygen levels.
  • Restless legs syndrome (a condition associated with creeping sensations in the leg during sleep that are relieved by leg movement)
  • Periodic Limb movement disorder (a condition associated with involuntary repeated leg movement during sleep)
  • Circadian rhythm disorders (disturbance of the biological clock) which are conditions with unusual timing of sleep (for example, going to sleep later and waking up late, or going to sleep very early and getting up very early).
  • Sleep state misperception, in which the patient has a perception or feeling of not sleeping adequately, but there are no objective (polysomnographic or actigraphic) findings of any sleep disturbance.
  • Insufficient sleep syndrome, in which the person's sleep is insufficient because of environmental situations and lifestyle choices, such as sleeping in a bright or noisy room.
  • Inadequate sleep hygiene, in which the individual has poor sleep or sleep preparation habits (described in the following treatment section.)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/25/2016

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Insomnia »

Insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with the initiation, duration, maintenance, or quality of sleep that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep that results in some form of daytime impairment.

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