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Many people have trouble sleeping.
TYPES & CAUSES
There are several types of sleep problems.
Sometimes, trouble sleeping may be a condition all on its own. In other cases, it’s a symptom of something else happening in a person’s body. One of the most common diagnoses is insomnia.
Short-term sleep difficulty (acute insomnia) is a problem that occurs at least 3 nights a week but for less than 3 months.
A person may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or may wake too early. As a result, they do not feel rested. In some cases, it results from family or work problems or an upsetting event.
Long-term sleep difficulty (chronic insomnia) is a problem that occurs at least 3 nights a week and lasts more than 3 months.
Like acute insomnia, a person may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or may wake too early. As a result, they do not feel rested. Chronic insomnia is often secondary insomnia, meaning it occurs with other conditions.
Other Sleep Issues
(Other than insomnia)
Other types of sleep problems beyond insomnia also interfere with sleep, but have a different cause. These sleep issues are usually treated by a person’s doctor or a sleep specialist.
One example of a non-insomnia sleep issue is restless leg syndrome. This causes uncontrollable leg movements interfere with sleep. Another example is obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes a person to briefly stop breathing during periods of sleep.
And, there are many possible causes.
The cause of a person’s sleeping problem may be unknown. Often, the cause may be many factors instead of just one. Below, we have outlined several common causes of sleep issues.
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Treating sleep problems depends on a number of different factors. For example, the length of time that a person has had trouble sleeping. An individual’s environment, medical history, and lifestyle also play a role.
So, which treatments best fit a given person? Take our assessment to get a get a personalized care plan in 4 minutes or less.
Treatment options vary based on need.
Depending on an individual’s sleep problems, their treatment plan might include medicines, lifestyle changes, or other approaches. Once a person gets treatment for their sleep problem, they may need to keep up with healthy changes to help prevent it from recurring.
Treatment for Short-Term Sleep Problems
A person who has a short-term sleep problem may take an over-the-counter (OTC) product or natural supplement to help with sleep. And, they may learn about sleep hygiene, stimulus control, or lifestyle changes that can help with sleep. As they make some of the changes they may find that their sleep problems improve.
Treatment for Long-Term Sleep Problems
A person with long-term sleep problems may receive cognitive behavioral therapy-insomnia (CBT-I). And, they may begin other parts of a sleep treatment plan, like sleep hygiene, stimulus control, or lifestyle changes.
Until these take effect, a person may need to take medicine for sleep. If the therapy, sleep hygiene, stimulus control, or lifestyle changes help with their sleep problem, the person may be able to stop taking or reduce the amount of medicine they take.
Treatment for Sleep Problems due to Underlying Conditions
Sleep problems caused by underlying conditions (comorbid insomnia) may go away with proper treatment for those conditions. For example, a person who has trouble sleeping due to depression may have improved sleep if depression is well-managed.
Treatment for Sleep Problems Other than Insomnia
Sleep problems other than insomnia may also go away if the problem is treated. For example, a person with obstructive sleep apnea (periods when they briefly stop breathing during sleep) may begin using a continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) machine while sleeping. The CPAP keeps the throat open and prevents the apnea. This allows for more restful sleep.
There are various treatments that can fit a person's symptoms:
Some sleep problems are preventable.
When a person has sleep problems or has had them in the past, they may be wondering how to prevent them in the future.
Fortunately, there are several common options available to avoid ongoing sleep problems. In more serious cases, visiting a doctor may be necessary where exams, tests, and possible referrals can share more information.