We’ve all been there. It’s 2 a.m. and you’re still awake. You’re thinking about that big presentation you have for work tomorrow, worried about paying for the braces that your kid is getting next week, or the fight you had with your mom. Whatever it is, you just can’t shut down, but when is it just a bad night and when is it time to seek help? If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep for more than six hours 3 or more nights per week for a month, you are suffering from insomnia and your doctor can help.
Back in your college days, you thought nothing of sleeping just a couple of hours a night. Late night parties and all night study sessions were the norm, but now it’s just not the same. You crawl into bed exhausted after a hard day at work and as much as you want to pass out, sleep just doesn’t come. You’re not alone. As many as 35% of adults suffer from insomnia. Symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep at night
- Not feeling rested after sleeping at night
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Irritability or depression
- Memory or concentration problems
- Tension headaches
A diagnosis of insomnia falls into two categories; acute or chronic. Acute insomnia is short term lasting 3 months or less. It is generally caused by significant life stress, such as job loss, divorce, moving, or that new baby you just had, illness, medication, or environmental factors like too much noise. On the other hand, chronic insomnia occurs at least three times per week and lasts for more than 3 months. Some common causes of chronic insomnia include ongoing depression, chronic stress, and pain at night. Emerging research also suggests that there may be a difference in the brain structure of those with chronic insomnia. Insomnia sufferers tend to have less white matter which is associated with regulating sleep.
If you are suffering from chronic insomnia scheduling an appointment with a board certified sleep specialist can help. The doctor will ask you to keep a sleep diary recording such information as when you go to sleep, when you wake up as well as how long you stay awake during the night.
As a first line of defense, your doctor will probably request that you make some lifestyle changes. These changes will include things like reducing your caffeine intake, especially late in the day, avoiding a large meal in the evening, and trying to make your bedroom more comfortable. Of course, some changes are more difficult than others, like convincing your 3 year old that they do not need that drink of water of 4 a.m.
If lifestyle changes do not eliminate your insomnia, your doctor will most likely prescribe medication. There are several approved drugs for treating insomnia. A few examples include:
- Zolpidem – Zolpidem helps users to fall asleep, but should not be taken unless you can devote a full 7 to 8 hours to sleep. It is available as a pill and also as an oral spray that has been approved to treat acute insomnia.
- Eszopiclone – The FDA recommends starting with a low dose of eszopiclone such as 1 mg as it may cause significant impairment the next day.
- Ramelteon – Unlike other sleep drugs, ramelteon targets the sleep-wake cycle. It is generally prescribed for those who have difficulty falling asleep and has been approved for long-term use.
If you are suffering from insomnia, you do not need to suffer in silence. Your doctor can help and searchRx ensures you receive the best price on your medication. Download their app today to save money on all your prescription costs.