Do I have insomnia?

Insomnia is a lot more common than you may think. It’s estimated that at least one third of adults experience insomnia at one point in their lives. There is good news, though: only about five per cent of sufferers need professional treatment.

If you think you may suffer from insomnia, then it’s quite possible that you do. If you can’t sleep, if you feel like you have a lack of sleep, or if you’re always tired, then it’s worth looking into.

Let’s take a look at what insomnia actually is, to then look closely at the various insomnia symptoms – and what you can do about them.

What is insomnia?

If you were asked to define insomnia, what would you say? For the most part, insomnia is defined as a condition that prevents you from falling asleep or staying asleep.

If you suffer from insomnia, you may find it difficult to get to sleep. Or, you may get to sleep initially, and then wake through the night, having trouble getting back to sleep again. You may even wake too early in the morning, finding it impossible to return to sleep.It’s generally thought that there are two main types of insomnia. If someone has primary insomnia, their problem with sleeping is not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.

However, if someone has secondary insomnia, their sleep problems are caused by something. This could be medication they are taking, or another substance, such as alcohol, or it may be attributed to a health condition, such as depression or cancer, asthma, arthritis or heartburn.

Acute Insomnia

Insomnia can also vary according to how long it lasts and how extreme it is. On one hand, there is acute insomnia, which is only experienced in the short-term, passing quickly to allow regular sleeping patterns to return.

If you have acute insomnia, it could be caused by any number of things. You may be stressed about something happening at work, or anxious about an upcoming exam. You may be tense after receiving bad news, or you may be worried about a loved one’s health.

Acute insomnia can be fairly common, with sufferers finding it comes and goes over the years during stressful situations. Luckily, it tends to resolve without any need for treatment.

Chronic Insomnia

On the other hand, there is chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is often described as disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights a week, lasting for at least three months. This can have any number of causes.

Some people suffer from chronic insomnia because of unhealthy sleep habits or because of a change in environment. It can also be caused by shift work, certain medications or clinical disorders.

To resolve chronic insomnia issues, it often means delving deeper into the cause of the insomnia, in order to find ways to treat it. To find out more about this, check out our handy posts on the causes of insomnia and how to cure insomnia.

Insomnia Symptoms

If you’re worried that you may have insomnia – whether that’s acute insomnia or chronic insomnia – take a look at these insomnia symptoms to see if any apply to your situation.

  • A difficulty falling asleep, experiencing a feeling of sleeplessness that prevents you getting to sleep.
  • A difficulty staying asleep, where you wake up through the night and then find it difficult to get back to sleep.
  • Waking up too early in the morning, where you cannot return to sleep.
  • Waking up feeling unrefreshed by sleep.
  • Experiencing low energy levels or fatigue during the day.
  • Suffering cognitive impairment, where you may have trouble concentrating.
  • Suffering from mood disturbance, where you experience feelings such as irritability.
  • Experiencing behaviour problems, where you are impulsive or lash out aggressively.
  • Experiencing difficulty at school or work.
  • Experiencing difficulty in personal relationships with friends, family or anyone else close to you.

If you’re experiencing any of these ongoing insomnia symptoms and you have attempted to resolve the issue yourself, it may be worthwhile seeking professional help.