Thousands of people worldwide suffer from sleep problems. Many of them go untreated because it can be hard to know the difference between a few sleepless nights and an underlying sleep disorder. If your sleep loss is getting in the way of your daily activities, it might be time to test for insomnia.
Insomnia symptoms may differ for everyone. They may even come and go. But for most people, insomnia includes the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you regularly wake up in the night or find yourself tossing and turning long before your alarm goes off, it could be a sleep disorder. Take this sleep insomnia test to see.
The National Sleep Foundation defines insomnia as difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep despite spending enough time in bed (4). You may have insomnia if you feel unsatisfied with your energy or concentration levels during the day. Other common complaints of insomniacs include mood disturbances, decreased performance in school or work, and waking up feeling tired even if they slept the night.
Insomnia can be acute (it only lasts for a few days or weeks) or it can be chronic (it lasts for months or years). Primary insomnia occurs when no underlying medical conditions are contributing to the condition. Secondary insomnia is often considered a symptom of another illness. It is the most common form and is usually treated by addressing the primary condition.
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 30 percent of all adults have sleep problems. Another ten percent say that they have daytime impairment due to their sleeping problems (4).
According to a 2007 study, insomnia is strongly linked to psychiatric disorders. Approximately 40 percent of all patients with insomnia also have an underlying mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety (5). Gender and age are the most prevalent risk factors for developing the condition. Older adult women are most likely to experience symptoms of insomnia. This may be due to an increased risk of other health conditions as well as menopause.
Other factors that contribute to insomnia may include working the night shift or having a chronic illness. Insomnia may also increase the likelihood of other diseases. As many as 90 percent of people with insomnia have an increased risk for comorbid medical disorders, including pain conditions, neurodegenerative disorders, digestive problems, dyspnea, and hypoxemia. It also enhances the risk of restless leg syndrome, sleep-related breathing disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea, and periodic limb movement. These conditions are more likely to occur in elderly patients with insomnia (5).
The consequences of insomnia range from mild to severe. One study showed that insomniacs had a decreased quality of life when compared to people without sleep problems. The report indicated that insomniacs had impaired physical functioning, limited abilities due to other health concerns, increased body aches and pain, worse perceptions of their health, more emotional problems, and increased mental health conditions (5). Insomniacs may even have a greater risk of developing congestive heart failure (5).
People with insomnia are less productive at work and have higher incidences of absenteeism, difficulty performing tasks, and trouble concentrating (5). One study found that people who don’t sleep well are more likely to miss work. Additionally, the total health care costs of an insomniac compared to someone who sleeps well was 60 percent higher (5).
Several tests can be done to determine if you have insomnia. Your doctor may ask you a series of questions based on your medical history and sleep habits. A physical examination or mental health assessment may also be conducted to determine if you have any underlying symptoms of a sleeping disorder.
Be sure to tell your doctor what medications you are currently taking as many have been shown to cause sleep problems. Your doctor may also ask about your exercise or work routine as well as whether or not you use caffeine, alcohol or tobacco products. Personal or work stress is a common cause of insomnia. In some cases, jet lag or traveling across several time zones may cause insomnia, but these symptoms should resolve on their own when you return to your normal sleep schedule.
Having a family history of sleep problems may increase your risk of developing insomnia.
If your doctor thinks you have a sleep disorder, they may ask to do blood work to check for thyroid problems, which can indicate a hormonal imbalance. A sleep study test called a polysomnogram might also be conducted. A polysomnogram may require you to sleep overnight at a clinic to monitor your brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and eye movement during sleep. A polysomnogram also monitors your blood oxygen levels as well as any abnormal chest movements or snoring habits. This can help determine if your insomnia is caused by problems breathing.
Although only a doctor can diagnose a sleep disorder, taking the following insomnia test may help determine if there is cause for concern. Show your results to your doctor, and he or she can help you decide what the next step in your treatment plan is. Write down your answers on a separate piece of paper or print out this insomnia test as a guide to determine how severe your symptoms are.
Insomnia symptoms are different for everyone, but a self-assessment test can help you determine if you might be suffering from insomnia. Getting a proper diagnosis is crucial for picking out the right treatment plan. If you think you may have insomnia based on your answers to this test, ask your doctor about treatment options.
Once an insomnia diagnosis is made, you have several treatment options. Prescription medications should only be used as a last resort only as they are addictive and may cause dangerous side effects. The first thing you should do is make an effort to improve your sleep habits.
Start by making your bedroom as cozy as possible. Remove all distractions, such as electronic devices and televisions. Invest in blackout curtains, a comfortable mattress, and new sheets. Consider a fan or a white noise machine if you need sound on in the background while you snooze. Make sure your room temperature is suitable for sleep. Most people find that it’s easier to sleep when it is a few degrees cooler in your room than in the rest of the house.
It may also help to develop a bedtime routine to mentally and physically prepare you for sleep. If you’re always worried about what you have going on the next day, do what you can to ease your mind before going to bed. Write out a to-do list or lay out your clothes for the morning. Pack your lunch or even prep for breakfast. Then, do something relaxing. Take a warm shower or read a book. Find a way to reduce stress that doesn’t involve a digital device.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a relaxation technique designed to enhance your problem-solving skills. Therapists use it to treat patients with insomnia and depression by guiding them through problematic scenarios and teaching them how to change their thought patterns and behaviors to deal with certain emotions (3). The idea behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that it will show you how to work through any stressful or emotional problems that keep you awake at night.
According to a 2015 study, meditation improves daytime impairment and quality of sleep in older patients with insomnia. Results of the survey found that meditation also improves stress, anxiety and inflammatory factors (2). Spending a few minutes meditating before bedtime can help you sleep. Try laying directly in bed while you meditate so you can drift off to sleep easier.
There are plenty of ways to help you get to sleep naturally without prescription medication. Herbs and essential oils are a gentle way to relax you and promote a good night’s sleep. Try diffusing lavender essential oil into your bedroom or add a few drops to a hot bath. Natural sleep aids are available in capsule form. Try taking one right before bed to fall asleep fast and stay asleep throughout the night.
Using an insomnia test is the first step toward determining the best treatment plan for you. Before you visit a doctor, take the time to answer the above test questions to find out if there is a need for intervention. Share your results with your doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Your doctor may ask additional questions about your family history or sleep habits. Try to keep your treatment plan as natural as possible. Start by improving your sleep habits and only use a prescription sleep aid as a last resort.