What is Insomnia?
Insomnia, characterized by trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, is highly prevalent. More than 30% of the Indian population experiences sleep difficulties lasting over a month each year, with around 15% facing ongoing sleep problems. It is important to consult a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions contributing to these difficulties. While well-meaning advice suggests that stress is the main cause of insomnia, for most individuals, stress is not the primary factor. Although stress can worsen sleep, insomnia often accompanies physical or mental illnesses, and some people simply struggle with sleep naturally.
What causes Insomnia?
To treat insomnia effectively, it is essential to identify and address its underlying causes. This process involves a thorough evaluation, including a comprehensive history taken by a doctor or sleep specialist. Additional tools such as a sleep diary, insomnia severity questionnaire, and assessment of sleep hygiene practices may also be utilized. In certain cases, further investigations like actigraphy, which monitors activity, light exposure, and sleep patterns, or a sleep study to rule out other sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, may be recommended.
What treatments are available for Insomnia?
The treatment of insomnia involves a combination of behavioral and cognitive interventions, along with medication if necessary. Reliance on medication alone is often unsuccessful and does not provide a cure for insomnia. Recent research suggests that long-term improvements are best achieved by initially using medication in conjunction with addressing behavioral and cognitive aspects of sleep, and then gradually discontinuing the medication rather than relying on it indefinitely.
However, some individuals may require ongoing medication treatment. The range of available medications is evolving, with new drugs being developed and tested to offer safe and effective long-term options for managing insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness techniques, and hypnosis can be used alongside a comprehensive assessment and supportive counseling to enhance sleep quality and regain control over sleep patterns. If your sleep issues are affecting your social, emotional, occupational, or physical well-being, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with one of our sleep psychologists.