Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Insomnia definition and facts
- What is insomnia?
- 3 classes of insomnia based on the duration of symptoms and signs
- Signs and symptoms of insomnia
- Who gets insomnia?
- What causes insomnia?
- Insomnia caused by stress and lifestyle factors
- When should I call the doctor or other health care professional if I can't sleep?
- Is there a test to diagnose the condition?
- What are the treatments for insomnia; can it be cured?
- Natural and home remedies to cure insomnia
- Sleep hygiene
- Stimulus control
- Sleep restriction
- Benzodiazepine, non-benzodiazepine, and antidepressant medications to cure insomnia
- Melatonin, Rozerem, and Belsomra for problems sleeping
- Can insomnia be cured?
- Insomnia FAQs
- Find a local Sleep Specialist in your town
What causes insomnia?
Insomnia may have many causes and, as described earlier, it can be classified based upon the underlying cause. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders, has classified insomnia into multiple categories:
- Adjustment insomnia (acute insomnia): short-term or acute insomnia usually do to stress or environmental changes
- Psychophysiologic insomnia (primary insomnia): prolonged stress with chronic insomnia
- Paradoxical insomnia: little or no sleep at nights with rare normal night sleep because of a pattern of consciousness throughout the night, or where near constant awareness of environmental stimuli occurs
- Insomnia due to medical condition: insomnia associated with disorders such as advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arthritis, cancer, renal disease, fibromyalgia, neurologic problems, Parkinson's disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Insomnia due to mental disorder: depression, schizophrenia, and maniac phase of bipolar illness, for example
- Insomnia due to drug or substance abuse: for example, alcohol abuse, stimulant abuse, caffeine abuse
- Insomnia not due to substances or known physiologic conditions, unspecified: temporary diagnostic term used for suspected but unproven underlying mental, physiological or environmental problems
- Inadequate sleep hygiene: proper sleep scheduling, routine use of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, frequent daytime napping, using the bed for watching TV, snacking, or reading and/or studying for tests or work related subjects
- Idiopathic insomnia: long-term insomnia begun in infancy or childhood with no readily identifiable underlying cause
- Behavioral insomnia of childhood: insomnia in children based on adult caregiver observations
- Primary sleep disorders causing insomnia: insomnia due to restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea (shallow breathing) syndrome, nocturia (need to urinate at night) or circadian rhythm disorders for example
Insomnia caused by stress and lifestyle factors
Common situational and stress factors leading to acute or adjustment insomnia may include:
- Jet lag
- Physical discomfort (hot, cold, lighting, noise, unfamiliar surroundings)
- Working different shifts
- Stressful life situations (divorce or separation, death of a loved one, losing a job, preparing for an examination)
- Illicit drug use
- Cigarette smoking
- Caffeine intake prior to going to bed
- Alcohol intoxication or withdrawal
- Certain medications
Most of these factors may be short-term, transient, and controllable or modifiable by actions a patient decides to take, and therefore insomnia may resolve in many patients when the underlying factor is removed or corrected.
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