My whole family nags me about how long I sleep and I usually retort that I’m awake, I’m just too lazy to get out of bed even though I’m still tired. My husband, on the other hand, wakes up probably 4 hours before I do and is also still tired. Now, I’m not trying to self-diagnose, I just needed some sort of Segway into today’s insomnia topic.

One in every three people get the occasional bout of insomnia and very few actually need to see a professional about it. Short-term insomnia can be caused by a variety of things such as travel or stress and goes away once the situation has been resolved. Most treatments to short-term insomnia are obvious, such as not napping during the day; avoiding caffeine, smoking, and alcohol; and shutting down pretty much all activities and relaxing before bed. Having a bedtime and morning routine will also help your body know when to shut down and when to get up. Only go to bed when you’re tired and, if you can’t sleep, get out of bed to do something for a while until you’re tired again.

If the insomnia persists longer than a month, then the individual has persistent/chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia comes in three types: secondary insomnia, primary sleep disorders, and idiopathic insomnia. The first is due to medical and mental issues—perhaps your new medication is keeping you up or maybe it’s anxiety. Drug and alcohol use also fall under this category. Primary sleep disorders cover anything that cause abnormal activities during sleep (i.e. sleep walking) or disorders that make falling and staying asleep difficult (i.e. sleep apnea). If there is no known cause to the insomnia, that’s idiopathic insomnia.

For persistent insomnia, keeping a sleep diary will help professionals find patterns and pinpoint the cause. They may or may not also prescribe medication or a sleep deprivation program in order to try to fix your sleeping routine. Light exposure in the morning may also help.

So, insomnia is a common thing and usually has a simple cause and simple solution. Ironically, people worrying about their insomnia can even keep them awake. If you have insomnia, try a few simple solutions at home but go see a professional if it lasts longer than a month. Sleep is important to your daily functioning life and it can be dangerous if you don’t get enough good sleep.

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