Insomnia (Sleeplessness): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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What is insomnia?

Insomnia is habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep, or a very disturbed sleep cycle. This sleep disorder can cover a range of stages of lack of sleep quality to lack of sleep quantity.

Insomnia can have tremendous adverse effects on your health and well-being. It leaves you feeling fatigued, drowsy, and depleted of energy during the day. This condition can greatly hamper your daily productivity at school or work since it affects your mood and attention levels.  

You may begin to rely on sleeping tablets, or alcohol, to be able to go to sleep which can have long-term adverse effects on your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Chronic insomnia can lead to other serious health conditions such as:

What are the types of insomnia and how do they occur?

There are numerous conditions which can lead to insomnia with the most common ones being anxiety, stress, and depression.

Commonly insomnia can be differentiated into the following types:

  • Transient insomnia: occurs when symptoms of sleeplessness lasts for up to three nights. This condition resolves by itself without treatment.

  • Acute insomnia: also called short-term insomnia is usually caused by a life event, such as a stressful change in a person's job, receiving shocking news, or travel exhaustion. The symptoms can persist for several weeks. This condition often resolves itself without any treatment.

  • Chronic insomnia: this type lasts for months, and sometimes years and thus is a  long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping. A person can be said to be suffering from chronic insomnia if he has difficulty staying asleep for at least three nights per week for three months or longer. The causes of chronic insomnia can be many.

  • Comorbid insomnia: occurs as an effect of another condition, such as psychiatric symptoms of anxiety and depression, or certain medical conditions such as arthritis or back pain.

  • Onset insomnia: is a condition when a person struggles to fall asleep every night.  

  • Maintenance insomnia: is a condition where a person has trouble staying asleep or difficulty in falling asleep once they suddenly wake up.

What are the causes of insomnia?

The causes of insomnia include:


Who is prone to insomnia?

Some people are more prone to insomnia than others such as:

  • Women who suffer from PMS

  • Women who have experienced menopause

  • Elderly people

  • People suffering from psychological conditions such as depression

  • People who suffer from medical conditions such as, arthritis, allergies, asthma, back pain, gastrointestinal problems etc.

  • People who take certain medications such as antidepressants, or medicines for allergy, cold and weight loss

What are the symptoms of insomnia? How is insomnia diagnosed?

The symptoms of insomnia include:

  • difficulty falling asleep at night

  • waking up in the middle of the night

  • waking up too early

  • Not feeling well-rested after a night's sleep

  • daytime tiredness or sleepiness

  • irritability, depression or anxiety

  • difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering

  • increased errors or accidents in daily life

  • ongoing worries about sleep

  • frequent urination

  • fatigue

  • nausea

Diagnosis


There is no specific test to diagnose insomnia. The doctor will first ask you about your medical history, your lifestyle, and your mental health conditions. You might have to fill out logs and questionnaires so that your sleep, lifestyle habits and mental health conditions become clear.

You may be asked to take a blood test. Based on the findings the doctor will prepare a treatment plan for you.


What are the complications of insomnia?


Insomnia may also raise your risk of developing certain health conditions, such as:

What is the treatment of insomnia?

Medical Treatment

 

Your doctor may prescribe medicines for insomnia depending upon other health conditions you may suffer from. He may also change your medicines or dosage of medicines for existing health problems which may be causing insomnia.

Sleeping tablets may help for a short time but cannot be taken for a prolonged period.

Please consult your doctor for advice on medications for insomnia and make sure you mention all your health conditions in detail.


Exercise

 

Vigorous exercising will not help you to get proper sleep and in fact, may hamper your sleep. Moderately exercising regularly for 30 minutes can give a good night’s sleep. Exercises such as moderate aerobics, swimming, a brisk walk can help.

Yoga can also help you to get proper sleep.

Would you like to consult a doctor for Insomnia (Sleeplessness) ?

Patient Experiences

Ms. Nishtha
Treatment for Insomnia
I am Nishtha gaur,34yrs. I came with interaction with doctor man vir bhatia at year 2014. I was suffering with acute anxiety and insomnia which Upsetter my emotional and mental life. After taking treatment from doctor ,my problem of insomnia started disappearing.thanks Nishtha ...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Manvir Bhatia
Neurology & Sleep Centre
Ms. Nishtha
Insomnia Cured
I am Nishtha gaur,34yrs. I came with interaction with doctor man vir bhatia at year 2014. I was suffering with acute anxiety and insomnia which Upsetter my emotional and mental life. After taking treatment from doctor ,my problem of insomnia started disappearing.thanks Nishtha ...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Manvir Bhatia
Neurology & Sleep Centre
Eshwar rao
No Sleep Since Two Years
I don't have sleep since 2 years consulted many doctors in corporate hospitals and super speciality doctors its of no use I can say I felt very depressed.after consulting here I developed some hope with his approach taken some medications till now since a week my sleep is better .hope I will recover completely by next visit .will review further after follow up .......Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Raghavendra Reddy
Oasis Health Care
Swathi
Insomnia for Two Years
I was suffering from insominia since from two years bt after visiting satish sir my sleep improved much better. Now am free from all depressions really I observed changes in me .now am doing all works with concentration nd with enjoying. Thank you sir thank you so much...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Satish Ramaiah
People Tree Hospitals
Swathi
Free From Insomnia and Depression
I was suffering from insominia since from two years bt after visiting satish sir my sleep improved much better. Now am free from all depressions really I observed changes in me .now am doing all works with concentration nd with enjoying. Thank you sir thank you so much...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Satish Ramaiah
People Tree Hospitals
Geetha
Insomnia Treatment Without Medicine
I feel very better without medicine, thanks for the valuable suggestions.like to visit again for my other complaints .consultation was really really good....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Raghavendra Reddy
Oasis Health Care

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
I am suffering with insomnia since one week I want suggestions to reduce this problem Please reply fast
Dr. Harisha N L
General Physician, Bangalore
No matter what your age, insomnia usually is treatable. The key often lies in changes to your routine during the day and when you go to bed. Good sleep habits promote sound sleep and daytime alertness. These tips may help. Basic tips: Exercise and stay active. Activity helps promote a good night's sleep. Get at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily at least five to six hours before bedtime. Check your medications. If you take medications regularly, check with your doctor to see if they may be contributing to your insomnia. Also check the labels of OTC products to see if they contain caffeine or other stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine. Avoid or limit naps. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can't get by without one, try to limit a nap to no more than 30 minutes and don't nap after 3 p.m. Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol and don't use nicotine. All of these can make it harder to sleep. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime. Avoiding alcohol can help prevent restless sleep and frequent awakenings. Don't put up with pain. If a painful condition bothers you, make sure the pain reliever you take is effective enough to control pain while you're sleeping. Stick to a sleep schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including on weekends. At bedtime: Avoid large meals and beverages before bed. A light snack is fine. But avoid eating too much late in the evening to reduce the chance of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and improve sleep. Drink less before bedtime so that you won't have to urinate as often.
Verified User
My mother has the problem of insomnia. Whom should I consult a neurologist, psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Dr. Swathi S Aithal
General Physician, Bangalore
hello...
better to consult a neurologist first to rule out any causes...they you can meet a psychiatrist if needed
Ask health queries and get free answers from doctors in 24 hrs

Did you know?

India’s New Nightmare

In India, lifestyle is the key contributor towards insomnia, leading to an alarming rise in the number of young people, especially young executives, suffering from sleeping disorders.

Women Suffer From Insomnia More

Women are twice more likely to suffer from insomnia than men

Risk of Insomnia More Among The Elderly

The risk of insomnia increases with advancing age. It is especially prevalent among post menopausal women.

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Home Remedies

Time Tested Methods For Treating Insomnia

If anxiety and stress is keeping you up all night, try yoga, meditating, or writing in a journal before bed. Tai chi is another powerful sleep-inducing (and stress-reducing!) exercise.

Take Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are a good source of minerals, calcium, carbohydrates and B-complex vitamins. And they are great sleep inducers! Take 1 teaspoon of poppy seed/oil before going to bed. Alternatively, mix 30 grams of poppy seeds’ with milk and consume it before sleeping.

Take Nutmeg

Nutmeg is loaded with myristicin which works as a tranquilizer and can help you get a good night’s sleep. You can mix a pinch of nutmeg powder with one teaspoon of fresh Indian gooseberry juice and consume it.

Take Saffron

Saffron has sedative properties that help treat the problem of insomnia. Soak 3-4 strands of saffron in a cup of warm milk. Sip this warm drink every day before you retire for the night.

Take a Hot Bath

Take a hot shower or a warm bath about two hours before going to sleep. It will relax your body and soothe your nerves. If taking a bath you can also add a few drops of essential oils like chamomile, lemon balm, lavender or rosemary to the bath water. This will soothe your senses and calm your nerves.
Book an appointment with a General Physician