An estimated 30 to 50 percent of the American population experience insomnia. (1) Those who suffer with insomnia have trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or both. Insomnia can be acute or chronic, primary or secondary.
Desperate for a good night’s sleep, an insomniac may resort to sleeping pills or alcohol. Finding the underlying medical or emotional cause is a much more effective approach to treating insomnia.
Acute insomnia is a common sleep disorder, which can last for one night or up to a month. Short term insomnia is often a response to a specific situation. Jet lag, a change in shift work, stressful situations like loss of a job or exam preparation, hospitalization, and an uncomfortable room temperature can prevent you from sleeping well.
Fluctuations in the female hormones during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause contribute to temporary periods of insomnia. Caffeine, the nicotine in tobacco and a snoring partner will cause acute insomnia. (3) Acute insomnia may not require treatment and resolves once the underlying problem is corrected.
Chronic insomnia is a long term sleep disorder, which can last for one month or longer. Many times, chronic insomnia is a symptom or side effect of a medical condition, such as COPD, GERD or obstructive sleep apnea.
Anxiety, depression, ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder are the underlying cause of many cases of chronic insomnia. (3) Insomnia is a side effect of two antidepressant medications, fluoxetine and bupropion. (3)
Theophylline, a drug used to treat respiratory conditions, lamotrigine, a drug prescribed to treat certain types of seizures, felbamate, a medication reserved for case of severe or difficult to manage epilepsy, beta-blockers often used to treat angina and beta-agonists, used to open respiratory airways during an asthma attack or with COPD can cause chronic insomnia.
Substance abuse, particularly, alcohol, cocaine and sedatives, accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of all cases of long term insomnia.